Fewer sights on a football pitch make the ventricles of a spectator pump faster than that of a winger’s drop of the shoulder or a quick step-over, the moment when he skips past opponents as though they weren’t there or delivers a well-tailored pass to his teammate.
If you love all that, you’ll love Techiman XI Wonders’ Salifu Ibrahim. His performances on matchdays corroborate all the fuss about him and have already earned the 20-year-old cult status among fans of his club and attention from neutrals.
Wonders, belying their underdog status, sit comfortably in a mid-table slot (8th) eight games into the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League season, with Ibrahim — on one goal, four assists, and five man-of-the-match prizes — playing a starring role in reaching those heights.
Unsurprisingly, the league’s stronger clubs have started circling. According to reports in the Ghanaian media, Wonders expect to lose their prized asset in the next transfer window, or that which follows.
Why so much interest in a player who was virtually unknown until this season, though?
What’s the big deal?
Well, for starters, Ibrahim is a textbook example of an intelligent, versatile winger — adept in both defence and attack — and a keystone of Ignatius Osei-Fosu’s dazzling team.
Wonders crush the opposition with their flowing attacking fleet, and Ibrahim, displaying offensive discipline and exceptional game management in his role on the flank, gives them the license to do so.
The youngster has a swagger to his play, gliding past markers with the ease, elegance and grace associated with the game’s more renowned names (think Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria), but also exhibiting the ferocity and determination needed to succeed in an industrious Wonders side.
Digging deeper into Ibrahim’s skill-set, you’ll find an imposing tackling ability and astute positional awareness. His movement, on and off the ball, makes him perfect for kick-starting attacking transitions — a principle that his team has thrived off thus far.
Out of possession, Ibrahim loves to press and use his pace to overwhelm opponents. He’s press-resistant, too, and although he doesn’t dribble his way out of situations, Ibrahim shows great composure to find a team-mate when under pressure.
Observers would also find Ibrahim an elite reader of the game, boasting a good ball recovery rate. Those, and other boxes he ticks, make Ibrahim a valuable asset to have, and a handful to play against.
But if you believe the season is still too young to rate the new kid on the block so highly, well, remember that Ibrahim — a nominee for December’s Player of the Month award — is young, too.
The startling prospect of what he could yet become, I suspect, is why the clubs chasing him would push for a deal sooner, rather than later.