Viktor Gyökeres


Liam Tharme

October 13, 2021

Viktor Gyokeres at Coventry City

Who is Viktor Gyökeres?

A player who showed so much promise in the PL2 and 2. Bundesliga, Viktor Gyökeres’ is a perfect example of the time it can take youth players to acclimatise to the senior game. 

Picked up by Brighton as an 18-year-old in 2017, off the back of a season where he ranked third in the Superettan (Sweden’s second division) for shots on target (38) and goals scored (13). He went on to record 16 goal involvements in marginally over 2,000 PL2 minutes at Brighton, helping fire them from the second division to the top tier, netting twice in the playoff semi-final.

Viktor Gyökeres' style of play



At the Albion, the Swede was deployed in a sort of hybrid winger-forward role, and many elements of his game there are still evident in his play style now – this is arguably a weakness of his, too, as he does not stand out as an exceptional box forward, nor is he outstanding as a winger driving at a full-back. 

This is not to say he cannot eventually become either, he is still only 23 after all. His ‘weaknesses’ (if you want to call them that) acknowledged, what is important is that Coventry’s fluent approach to attacking transitions might just be the perfect fit for the forward. 

Opta data has the Sky Blues as the second-most ‘direct’ side in terms of ball speed, and after 10 games they were top for direct attacks (29), which are considered to be sequences ending in a shot/touch in the opposition box, whereby at least 50% of movement has been forward.

The best way to describe Gyökeres is as a chaos player, who thrives in attacking transitions and when given the opportunity to be reactive to second balls dropping in the opposition box; there is not a typical Gyökeres goal in terms of repeatability just yet, but perhaps there is in terms of attacking scenario. 

Nine goals in his first 11 games of the season make him the third-most prolific forward in the league, and he has been directly involved (scored/assisted) in over two-thirds of Coventry’s goals. 

He does not always score the most aesthetically pleasing goals, sometimes toe-poking or tapping shots in from close range (typically directly off/from seconds balls of crosses from wide areas) and frequently finishing from seemingly impossible wide angles or situations where there are numerous defenders between the ball and the goal. 

Eight of his nine strikes have been with his dominant right-foot, and whilst the margins do seem to be going his way in terms of deflections and efforts finding the corners, he undoubtedly is talented in having such a wide finishing library: fired shots across the goalkeeper, one-touch finishes close to goal from crosses/pull-backs/shot rebounds, shots from range whilst dribbling, dribbles around the goalkeeper to score into an empty net – he has scored all of those goals already this season.

But it is clear that he repeatedly gets into quality scoring locations, and his shot-map shows that he has the capacity to shoot, hit the target, and score from a range of widths as well as depths.

He operates as their most advanced player both in and out of possession, typically the only Sky Blue to remain high when they are defending deep. Consequently, he is often the recipient (or target) of their first or second pass when breaking, and his movements to receive vary between dropping deep to link play with the player(s) starting the counter-attack, and making runs – straight, diagonal or arced – beyond the back-line in an attempt to be destructive. 

When dropping deep, he has the spatial awareness to protect the ball from a defender, as well as the physical presence to maintain balance when contact is initiated; he is not just a powerful forward, and he boasts a very neat turning circle when spinning an opposition central defender – he can go either way, and looks pretty adept at using both feet to turn with his first touch or off multiple touches in a variety of ways.

His running with the ball is just as good, if not better, than his running without it; typically, Gyökeres’ dribbles occur off the left-hand side, whereby he drifts in onto his stronger right foot, and his shot-map is evidence of his penchant to shoot from such situations – his 17 shot-ending dribbles are a league high this season, as are his 27 total chance ending carries, when you factor in the 10 chances he has created following carries. 

Of course, dribbles are central to Coventry’s counter-attacking approach, and Gyökeres undoubtedly benefits from having the forward support of Martyn Waghorn and Matt Godden; he and Waghorn have assisted each other already this season, whilst the link-up between Gyokeres and Callum O’Hare has already produced two goals. 

On the Sky Sports EFL podcast, Keith Andrews pointed out that the former St. Pauli forward operates as best as part of a strike partnership – he thrived alongside Aaron Connolly at Brighton, and has done so in a forward unit with the more conventional number nines (plus O’Hare) mentioned above – his struggles at Swansea were potentially down, at least in some degree, to operating more as a lone forward, in a higher possession (and thus less frequently getting counter-attack opportunities) outfit.

When carrying the ball, in true inverted winger fashion, the Swede likes to isolate a defender one-on-one in wide areas, often using a high touch approach with his laces, to draw in the opponent; when he has them and the ball where he wants them – in relation to pitch spaces or waiting for team-mates to make supporting runs – he explodes away with a big touch and is incredibly prepared to take risks in terms of shots (from tight angles/distance) or attempting a final ball.

Aside from the attacking benefits, he gains Coventry invaluable yards through his dribbles, an underrated tool in game management; Gyökeres has clocked over 120 carries in less than 1,000 minutes this season. On average he moves the ball 6.8 metres towards the opposition goal – among the top eight players in the league.

"The best way to describe Gyökeres is as a chaos player, who thrives in attacking transitions and when given the opportunity to be reactive to second balls dropping in the opposition box..."

Whilst his acceleration is far from the most elite, his physical ability, particularly in his upper body, keeps him resistant to any contact from defenders – if he gets his shoulder in-front of the defender, then it is advantage Gyökeres. 

That said, his on-ball speed is good, as is his ability to change direction through swerves as he moves, enabling him to switch the ball pretty seamlessly between either foot, changing the passing and shooting angles that are available to him – he is by no means a specialist dribbler, and is quite versatile in this regard.

From a creation perspective, his final ball from a carry is typically a neat, threaded pass into one of the more advanced forwards, who likely have filled the vacant space when he has moved deeper or wide. Such passes are typically grounded, though the 23-year-old is prepared to try and play around, through and over defenders at times, perhaps evidence more than anything as to how sky-high his confidence levels currently are. 

He has just been called up (again) to the Swedish national team – to replace Zlatan Ibrahimović, no less – whom he scored for on his full debut in 2019, though he has not featured since that appearance. 

Forecasting Viktor Gyökeres' Future Prospects

His career perhaps took a little while to get going from academy to senior level, and given how symbiotic the relationship is between him and Coventry’s play style, staying there seems the best thing currently.
Long term, progression to a higher-level Championship side seems natural, though there is certainly no need to rush that.
He is on the fringes of the Swedish national side too (though he was eligible for Hungary as well until making his competitive Sweden debut this week). He is no longer eligible for under-21 football, so he needs somewhere he can get game time and develop in a competitive league if he is to make that a more permanent place.

Gyökeres is a chaos player that thrives in transition, either from wide or centrals paces. He is particularly effective cutting in off the left side to create chances for himself.

As a player that thrives in transition, Gyökeres has his struggles attacking deep, set defensive blocks. He also struggles operating as a lone forward, as we saw during his time with Swansea.

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