Scouted: Mohamed Daramy
Nordic countries are producing high-level prospects again. Josh Hobbs analyses a gem of Denmark's new generation: Mohamed Daramy.
There is a whole host of talent coming through in Scandinavia at the moment. FK København are stockpiling a good few of them, having bought Victor Nelsson, a centre back from FC Nordsjælland, and Mikkel Kaufmann, a centre forward from Aalborg BK last season. They already had a homegrown favourite up front in Jonas Wind, and now they can add Mohamed Daramy to that list – who could perhaps be the best of them all.
Originally hailing from Sierra Leone, Mo Daramy has a Danish passport and has represented his adopted country at various age-group levels. He's a versatile forward who can play across the front line. After impressing in the under-19s, Daramy’s breakthrough at first-team level came in the second half of the 2018/19 season, when he played 509 minutes and scored once as FCK took the title in convincing style.
The 2019/20 season has seen him truly come to the fore. After a slow start to the season – he had to wait three months to get a start in Superliga – he became a mainstay in the team and started every single game after the return from the COVID-19 shutdown. He finished the season having played 1,719 minutes, returning 4 goals and 4 assists at a rate of 0.21 per 90.
His underlying numbers are almost as impressive. With 0.2 expected goals per 90 and 0.19 expected assists per 90, his expected goals contribution per 90 ranks very impressively against the rest of those in Superligaen to have played a minimum of 1000 minutes.
To put that in context, his figure of 0.39 xG+A per 90 is higher than Mohammed Kudus, who has just moved to AFC Ajax, and Mikkel Damsgaard who has joined UC Sampdoria in Serie A.
Those numbers alone make the FCK youngster a good bet to join those two players in making a big move away from Denmark in the future. Before considering his future though, we’ll break down some of his key attributes.
As you can see in the player profile graphic above, the 18-year-old ranks in the 80th percentile or above for dribbles per 90, dribbles success % and progressive runs per 90. It’s fair to say that ball-carrying is a big part of his game. He's measured here against forwards who played a minimum of 1,000 minutes in the 2019/20 Superligaen season.
Daramy possesses great pace, which makes him a real weapon in transition for FCK.
In the example above, København had broken forwards after sustained pressure from Aalborg. Daramy provided a threat in behind and he received the ball in the midfield, driving forwards and exposing an Aalborg centre back. Running at him at pace, he shifted the ball quickly to the left and powered past him, creating space to get a shot away in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper. On this occasion the shot was pushed wide – but the warning was there for Aalborg. Although they were trying to push for an equaliser in the game, leaving themselves open was asking Daramy to cause damage in a counter-attack.
His pace and direct running are as vital to København off the ball as they are on it: Pep Biel, who largely plays on the right, fits a playmaking mould and the rest of their centre forward options prefer to receive the ball into their feet.
In this case, with opponent Rasmus Thelander’s eyes focused on FCK's Rasmus Falk, Daramy had the intelligence to run off the blindside of the former. Spotting his run, Falk slid the ball into his path.
Now in yards of space, Daramy demonstrated superb composure to get his head up quickly and cross for Michael Santos to head his team into a 3-0 lead.
His willingness to make runs in behind like this is sees him in the 94th percentile for deep completions per 90: passes which are completed no more than 20 yards away from the opposition goal. His desire is always to get behind the opposition defensive line and, if he then can’t place a shot on goal, find a teammate better-placed to score.
LINK-UP PLAY & CREATIVITY
His love for running in behind doesn't mean he isn’t capable of linking well with the midfield and coming short to receive the ball. In fact, he ranks in the 80th percentile for passes per 90 with 28.33, so he’s not a forward on the periphery of a game.
Particularly notable is that when he does receive the ball in the midfield third, he often makes looks to play the ball in behind, perhaps expecting his teammates to make the same runs as he would. It’s not rare to see these passes run to the opponent due to Daramy being on a different wavelength to his teammates.
But when he gets it right these passes can lead to big chances, such as in the example below.
Against Halmstads BK, Daramy dropped off his marker into space just inside the opposing half and received the ball on the half-turn. On this occasion, Michael Santos was fully aware of what his strike partner had in mind and set off on a run.
With the Halmstad defenders back-pedalling, Daramy waited for the perfect moment to slide the ball into Santos' path for a clear sight of goal. Unfortunately, Daramy overhit the pass, but the vision to create such chances explains why he is averaging 0.18 xA per 90: enough to rank him joint 5th for all under-23 players who have played at least 1,000 minutes in the league this season. This kind of creativity has allowed him to assist 4 goals this term and will likely lead to many more.
Rightly or wrongly, all forwards tend to be ultimately judged on their ability to score goals. Daramy has more than held his own in this regard, scoring 8 goals from 8.11 xG in all competitions since breaking through to the first team.
That goal return from 2775 minutes is very impressive for a player who made his debut as a 17-year-old and that it matches his expected goals almost identically is good news. He’s not a youngster on a fragile hot-streak, but instead is frequently getting himself into good goalscoring positions.
Looking at his shot map from 2020, we can see that he took just under half of his 30 shots from within the ‘golden zone’: the width of the 6-yard-box between the goal line and the 18-yard-line. Of those taken from outside the ‘golden zone’, the vast majority are only just outside it, rather than from wide areas in the box. There are just 4 shots from very long distance; wild longshots are not amongst his bad habits.
Although his xG-per-shot of 0.13 shows that he’s getting good value for his attempts on average, he could increase his number of high-value chances from in and around the six-yard box.
In one of the first games after the lockdown period, Daramy scored two very different types of goals:
For his first, he dropped off the centre back to receive the ball to his feet, again receiving it on the half turn.
He then demonstrated his explosiveness from a standing start, bursting through the middle of the Aalborg defence.
With 3 defenders surrounding him, he demonstrated excellent composure to shoot low into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Whilst this first goal could be described as an individual effort, he proved with his second that he can also provide the movement and one-touch finish of a clinical striker.
He timed his late run into the box perfectly, allowing him to arrive unmarked and volley the cross side-footed into the near corner.
As FC København were the second highest-rated team in Superligaen for passes per defensive action, a metric used to judge pressing, it’s important that Daramy puts a lot of work in defensively.
As his player profile shows, he ranks just above average for defensive duels per 90, with 4.17. This is impressive considering that FCK are the most possessive team in the league. He also makes 2.99 possession-adjusted interceptions per 90, putting him in the 77th percentile. This is due to his good anticipation to seize on defensive mistakes, as well as his pace allowing him to cover ground quickly to steal the ball when passed between defenders - as demonstrated in the example below:
Daramy anticipated the pass coming into the feet of Midtjylland’s Jens Kajuste and sprinted to make up the ground on him. Had he not done so, Kajuste was in acres of space to turn and pass. The Midtjylland midfielder wasn’t aware of Daramy closing him down so quickly and turned straight into his path, losing the ball and giving FCK an opportunity to break.
As with his running in-behind, Daramy is tireless in his efforts to win the ball back. In an age when pressing has become a key part of the tactics of the vast majority of elite clubs, this willingness to commit to the press could serve the youngster very well in the future.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Daramy still needs to develop his technical skills. Still only 18, he is understandably a little raw in this area. His first touch can let him down at times, particularly when he is trying to do everything at such speed. When carrying the ball, he is also prone to possession running away from him, so could do with working on his close control to mitigate his reliance on his explosive speed.
As mentioned earlier, he should also take more efforts on goal from in and around the six-yard box; playing for a league-dominant side like Copenhagen, such dangerous positioning should not be difficult to come by. This is the missing element in his goal-scoring equation and would see him score far more.
It's certain that top teams will already be tracking Daramy, but he should be fully expected to stay in Denmark for at least another full season. His underlying numbers this term have been more impressive than some players who have made career-defining moves for 2020/21. If he can show progression and consistency, he won’t be far behind them.
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