The Exciting AFCON Star Made In Denmark

The African Cup of Nations is a rich and colourful competition laden with talent from across the world.

So far, some of the less fancied teams have thrived, and on Tuesday, the teams ranked 54th and 51st in the world will face off for a place in the quarter-finals. Mali, the higher-ranked side, boast several players from Europe and one from Scandinavia, goalkeeper Ismael Diawara.

Their opponents, Burkina Faso, have never qualified for a World Cup but have finished third and fourth in the last two AFCON competitions. They’ll be hoping to go one further this year, and they’re hoping to do so with one of the rising stars of Danish football playing at the back.

Adamo Nagalo might play in defence, but his technical abilities are more suited to midfield, which is where he started out as a youth. Still only 21, the Nordsjælland player has only appeared once in AFCON thus far for Les Étalons, at right back, as they drew 2-2 with Algeria. However, he has age on his side, and he comes from a Super Liga team garnering a reputation for developing players. Indeed, just this week, Ibrahim Osman was linked with West Ham and if he moves to East London, he’ll join another African Nordsjælland alumni, Mohammed Kudosm, at the Hammers.

Why is Nagalo special? He already has a wealth of first-team experience for his club, including games against Fenerbahce in the Conference League, where he assisted one of his team’s six goals. In a truly bizarre group stage, his side won 7-1 and 6-1 against Ludogorets and Fenerbahce and still failed to qualify above either! However, despite the defeats, the big defender stood out as a real talent, with his ability to pass out of defence. In the modern game, ball-playing defenders are a real asset.

He usually plays on the left of their defence and can play equally as comfortably as part of a two or a three. He’s often eager to be part of attacks but has a nice turn of pace, aided doubtless by his youth, that allows him to get back. He has aggression as well as awareness and is often found anticipating a forward move to complete a block or interception.

His stats also stand up, especially when you consider his tender age. He’s won 54.76% of his aerial duels this campaign, making his defensive prowess equally as impressive as his technical ability. The boy can defend and attack, and when you consider he only broke into the Burkina Faso team in November, he’s done incredibly well to be a part of their AFCON squad.

Still only 21, he might not get on the field on Tuesday. However, that will not stop a host of Europe’s top clubs from looking at him. For now, Brighton and Fenerbahce have been credited with an interest, but come the summer, the list of suitors is sure to be much longer.

 

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