Noni Madueke


Noni Madueke playing for PSV Eindhoven
Joe Donnohue

FEBRUARY 17, 2022

Note: This profile was first written in May 2021. All statistics and facts are correct to that time period.

Update – February 2022: Injuries have limited Noni Madueke’s ability to play a lot of first-team football in 2021/22. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old is close to matching his minutes total from last season.

On February 12, the English winger made his first league start since October in a match against Vitesse, providing an assist in his 59 minutes on the pitch. He also started a cup game against NAC Breda on February 8, scoring and assisting from his position on the right wing in 45 mins of game time.

Who is Noni Madueke?

Not often do clubs of PSV Eindhoven’s stature beat the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to the punch when it comes to signing players. Normally these clubs buy PSV players. 

Steven Bergwijn moved to North London from the Dutch side in January 2020, while Memphis Depay switched the Philips Stadion for Old Trafford in a high-profile 2015 transfer.

Between those deals though, PSV managed to lure Noni Madueke from the Tottenham Hotspur academy, supposedly away from Manchester Unit­ed and Chelsea ’s watchful gazes. The teenager turned down the chance to sign professional terms at Spurs, boldly opting for PSV instead as he plotted his path to senior football. 

Moving abroad with his parents at the age of 16, Madueke has made good on his claim that he could become a first team player much sooner in the Netherlands, as opposed to making it at all with Tottenham. In the autumn of 2018, Madueke joined up with PSV’s under-17 side, occasionally competing in the UEFA Youth League, predominantly an under-19 tournament. 

A year later, it was apparent he had outgrown even the youth levels above – the Under-19 Eredivisie – after scoring, assisting, or both in ten of the 11 matches he played for PSV’s under-19s at the beginning of 2019/20 season. 

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Madueke’s development has accelerated so quickly that he leapfrogged PSV’s under-21 side – Jong PSV – who com­pete in the second tier of Dutch football, the Eerste Divisie. There he scored four times in six outings before taking on a squad role with the senior group, one well-stocked with di­verse attacking profiles. 

He made his first-team debut off the bench in January 2019 against VVV-Venlo, still aged just 17. Despite his excellent natural pro­file, Madueke is not yet a regular starter at PSV, though he is trusted by coach Roger Schmidt. The Londoner has over 30 appearances for the Dutch side this season, but only around a third have been starts.

Noni Madueke dribbling with the ball

Noni Madueke's style of play

Noni Madueke is a left-footed, right-sided forward who operates mostly in the channel between the centre of the pitch and the wing. The England under-21 international at­tacks the half-space with his out-to-in runs but it would be a mischaracterisation to suggest this is solely where he in­fluences games. 

Schmidt has trialled Madueke as a supple­mentary forward, twice alongside Cody Gakpo – a less con­ventional striker – as well as with Eran Zahavi and Donyell Malen, who are more notorious goal-getters. Across rough­ly 500 Eredivisie minutes in this role, played over multi­ple appearances, Madueke has notched four goals and five assists. 

Across all competitions, he is tantalisingly close to reaching double figures in both goals and assists in his first senior campaign, with a total of 17 goal involvements in 29 appearances. To be posting such numbers in a debut season is impressive, even more so considering his appearances are often diluted into 15-45 minute spurts.

The most notable attribute of Madueke’s skillset is his drib­bling – he careers through challenges, he does not glide. In contrast to archetypal nimble wide players who seem to skirt through tackles untouched with feline agility, Ma­dueke uses opponents like sideboards in ten-pin bowling, shuffling through pressure at varying speeds. Not unlike most young attackers with great acceleration, he is most effective with wide open space to surge into.

Madueke creates off the dribble against teams who afford him a run up. An occupational hazard of being a frequent dribbler is that Madueke is fouled often too. Regardless, he is a player who protects the ball exceedingly well for someone of his age and top-level experience.

He so often appears on the cusp of giving up possession, so it is encouraging that he seldom holds onto the ball for extended, unnecessary periods. That said, his passes could be punched into team-mates with more tempo and running into trouble often results in him forcing a sub-optimal pass out of desperation.

“The most notable attribute of Madueke’s skillset is his drib­bling – he careers through challenges, he does not glide. Ma­dueke uses opponents like sideboards in ten-pin bowling, shuffling through pressure at varying speeds.”

Crucially though, he is learning and de­livering, despite being given a fraction of the time to gen­erate something positive in comparison to his team-mates. Granted, his first touch coming off the bench can be a tad sloppy, but his ability to assimilate to the speed of the game is a key reason why Schmidt has called on Madueke around the 60 to 70-minute mark several times this season. 

He is an individual who can impact a game; he can carry a waning team up the pitch with his dribbling, as well as cre­ate shots for himself and others when chances have been sparse prior to his introduction.

An underrated aspect of Madueke’s game is how quick­ly he has developed his link-up play. In matches for Eng­land’s youth teams, and at under-19 level, Madueke’s brief was much more focused on directness and verticality. 

With PSV, he is sometimes asked to play more centrally, with his back to goal, and has developed quite the penchant for knocking balls around the corner to a third-man runner. Equally, he can function by receiving a wall-pass, posi­tioning himself at an angle where a team-mate can play through him to access another. 

He is not guilty of overplay­ing in these situations, which belies his years and demon­strates he is coachable and capable of making better deci­sions than his occasionally selfish on-ball endeavours.

Forecasting Noni Madueke's future

Madueke was recently given his England under-21 debut at the UEFA Under-21 European Championships, but is also eligible to represent Nigeria. His allegiance would be quite a coup for the African country given the trajectory Madueke’s early career promises.

While he was one of many English youngsters seeking op­portunities abroad a few years ago, he was certainly among the youngest. Passing the incremental tests with PSV’s under-17, under-19 and under-21 sides before making his first-team bow suggests he was not mistakenly fast-tracked which bodes well for the future.

A summer exodus is al­ways likely for the Netherlands’ big clubs, meaning a reg­ular starting role for Madueke next season is very possible, either by proxy or on merit. Another six months to a year at PSV would probably be beneficial, as he could shake the super-sub tag while accruing more and more minutes under a coach whose style complements Madueke’s natural early career strengths. 

Accepting a lucrative offer to play a lesser role at a club in one of Europe’s big five leagues could cer­tainly stall his development, when a year of patience may be all that is required.

And, as is always the case with the best players in the Eredivisie, scouts from many top European clubs will be watching.

Noni Madueke is a high level dribbler, combining it with a fantastic physical profile from the right wing.

Madueke’s key weakness is that he is always looking to bring play inside, often negleticing to stretch the play. It makes him a little bit predictable.

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