Date of Birth: 20.10.1997 (20 years old)
Position: Defensive Midfielder, Center Midfielder
Value: 200.000 €
Contract Until: 30.07.2020
Height: 1.73 m
Ifeanyi Matthew was born on 20.01.1997 in Nigeria. He also started his career there by playing for El-Kanemi Warriors in 2015-2016 season. Later in that season another Nigerian side Kano Pillars signed him temporarily till the end of the season. At the end of the season he was reportedly wanted by Belgian giants Gent but he chose to move to Norway. He signed 4 years long contract with Lillestrom where he stepped up to highest level of football and since than he has played 27 games and scored 4 goals while delivering 6 assists. With his remarkable performance for Lillestrom, he has become an starter and an essential part of squad.
He’s still waiting for a call from Nigerian National Team but in 2013 he was a part of U-17 AFCON Championship finalists Nigerian U-17 along with Premier League players Kelechi Ihenacho, Chideibere Nwakali and Isaac Success. He was a key player of that team and played all the games.
In 2015 he made his breakthrough in U-20 AFCON Championship. He lead his team to glory with scoring 2 goals and assisting 3 times. Nigeria played 5 games and won 4 one of them while Matthew was on the pitch. Nigeria were the favorites of the cup without Matthew they had some hard-sledding. At the end of the tournament his coach honored him by saying “ He was the best player of my team.” Also in 2015 he had a vital part in U-20 World Cup which was held in Brazil. He had only one appearance in the tournament and it was against their loss against Brazil by 4-2.
He is used to play for every variation of 4-4-2 at the top level of football but he would be more effective in 4-2-3-1 and its variations. Because of his age and therefore physical disadvantages he is struggling while playing in formations requiring one defensive midfielder. As a consequence it is seen that he is playing as central midfielder in formations requiring one defensive midfielder. It is not expected for him to stay in Norway till the end of his contract and it is said that Club Brugge and some MLS teams are making inquiries about his transfer fee.
Strengths (Playmaking, Box to Box, Pace, Counter Attacks)
Arguably Lillestrom has one of the weakest attacking line in the Tippeligean and Matthew is the only player who can play both ends of the pitch. With his pace and dynamic style he can run through every inch of the pitch and still pass accurately. Even though his efficiency depends on his partner in the midfield, his offensive activity only depends on him.
He deliveres 47 passes per game and has a success rate of 80%. Both his vertical and diagonal passes are threating the opposition. He can deliver both lob and through passes which increase the efficiency of wingers.
Sometimes he’s given the role of marking key players and not booking with his tackling ability. In his last 20 games his tackles were only punished 1 times with a yellow card. He challenges15 times per game and has a success rate of 52%. Despite his contribution to defensive side of the game sometimes underestimated, his pace and challenging style give opponent midfielders no space.
In Lillestrom who are playing with 4-2-2 formation, he also plays as a playmaker in offensive side of the game. Apart from his threatful key passes, he isn’t hesitant about taking shots. He tries to beat the keeper 2.3 times per game. Even he is unable to score often, denied balls become a real threat for the opponent keeper and defense. Of 2.5 key passes he deliver, it can be said that mostly create real counter attack threats. Since he came to Norway, he developed his skills and become a real box to box midfielder. He’s become the first option while attacking and faces the opponent while defending.
Weaknesses (Experience, Physique, Aerial Duels)
At the age of 20, his competitors at Europe and Norway have already played many games but for Matthew the situation is not the same. He is still waiting for a call from Super Eagles even though he played at U-20 and U-17 for them. In addition he hasn’t played in a single Europa League or a Champions League game either.
As he’s 1.73 m and relatively short for his position he has having problems winning aerial duels. He has a success rate of 45% in 2.4 aerial duels per game but he is also hesitant about getting involved in it. His involvement in aerial duels are so low that his efficiency in defense becomes questionable.
Since Lillestrom don’t have a winger, playmaker or a decent poacher he has to have a great role in attacking organizations. In his involvements we can see his weaknesses in attack easily. Such as: he sometimes plays as a winger while attacking but he can’t deliver crosses and his unwillingness to do it is easily be seen. He only tries to cross only 1 times per match.
Similar Players: Badou N’Diaye
Especially in 2017 Tippeligean season Matthew is showing some real offensive threat and dominating the game like Badou N’diaye from Osmanlıspor. Before his arrival to Osmanlıspor, Badou didn’t have a chance to play at top level but Matthew is still 20 and including playmaking abilities and vision his dynamic style he can easily cope with Badou’s current state. While in attack he plays like a traditional playmaker while in defense he plays like an ideal 6 effectively. As he is getting more experienced every single match his self confidence is increasing but still he’s not playing vertically as Badou. Even if he plays in a team of defensive minded Lillestrom, their statistics and dominance in game is in same productivity therefore it shows us that Matthew has a potential to make his mark in our league.