Why Has Onyekuru Failed To Kick On In Last 12 Months? - 9jaflaver

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Why Has Onyekuru Failed To Kick On In Last 12 Months?

The talented forward has had an underwhelming year, leading to suggestions he may struggle to reach lofty expectations from his youth 

Nico Kovac’s appointment at AS Monaco was supposed to signal a new lease of life for Henry Onyekuru but, despite a small sample size of one game, doubts could creep in again.

The attacker was selected in the former Bayern Munich trainer’s first Ligue 1 game against Stade de Reims but was withdrawn at half-time after an underwhelming showing at Stade Louis II. Onyekuru lost possession on four occasions, won a single duel from five tussles and, surprisingly, played just one shot at goal in 45 minutes, which was blocked.

For a frontman whose principal asset has always been his goalscoring, it was quite meagre that he could only muster one attempt of Les Monegasques’ 13 in the opening 45 minutes.

His replacement Sofiane Diop was more lively, completing nearly twice as many passes as the 23-year-old Nigeria attacker (17-9), attempting two shots at goal while winning fouls for his side.

Also, the 20-year-old France youth international won four of five total duels after the interval and largely got involved in the game more, evidenced by the fact he made 29 touches to Onyekuru’s 15.

While the below-par showing doesn’t indicate as to how the former Everton man will perform throughout the season, a desire to start on a positive note has surely been defeated. This continued a disappointing year for the West African forward whose goalscoring potential was so great that the Merseyside giants swooped after his breakthrough 16/17 campaign at Belgian side Eupen.

Work permit issues meant that transfer never truly got off the ground but encouraging spells at Anderlecht in (17/18) and Galatasaray (18/19) suggested Onyekuru could still become a pretty consistent wide forward who got a fair share of goals. While reaching the level of African icons like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah may have been out of reach, there was a feeling that the young inside forward could reach a level below the brilliant Liverpool pair.

Unfortunately, the year-long decline for the ex-Eupen forward came about after a transfer to Monaco last year.

Indeed, he started the first two games of the campaign, and even assisted Islam Slimani’s strike against Nimes, but was soon dropped by Leonardo Jardim as a major move to another top-five league in Europe quickly turned sour.

A hamstring injury sustained in the opening months of the campaign meant the forward couldn’t show what he was capable of and was already down the pecking order by the time he returned.

Onyekuru’s last league appearance for the Ligue 1 outfit, a 15-minute cameo against Stade de Reims, came in September, a truly telling fact. The attacker was rarely seen on matchdays by the time Robert Moreno replaced Jardim in December, weeks before another temporary return to Turkey to play under Fatih Terim.

Even though a return to the Yellow-Reds promised much, the Monaco loanee didn’t thrive at the Turk Telekom Stadium the second time around as Terim’s troops ended sixth, outside the European spots.

There were mitigating factors for the forward’s inability to pick up where he left off months earlier when he netted 14 league goals in 31 appearances (28 starts), with the team’s topsy-turvy season a contrast to the settled atmosphere in 18/19.

In fairness, Onyekuru wasn’t at his sharpest in front of goal either, with his confidence seemingly shot after a fairly miserable six months in the Principality. Statistics showed that he missed seven clear-cut chances in just 10 appearances, a contributing factor to his return of a solitary strike on his short second spell.

The mere fact that the loanee missed only eight in his 14-goal campaign proves his finishing wasn’t as top-notch as it was previously, raising questions about him and his stalled development.

The new season is still in its infancy, but another disappointing performance when presented with another opportunity to make his mark in the French top flight under Kovac. Monaco play Metz on Sunday afternoon and it remains to be seen if the Croat will give Onyekuru another opportunity in the starting line-up.

Despite stalling in the last 12 months, the hope for the once-prodigious forward would be to return to the goalscoring form he showed in Belgium and Turkey. Still 23, Onyekuru has time to reach his potential and a better season in the Principality this year would put him on the right path.

source:- goal

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