Man Utd target Kamaldeen Sulemana is the new king of rounding the ‘keeper
When a footballer player comes face-to-face with the goalkeeper, there are several different options available. The blast, the dink, the lob, the nutmeg and the perfectly placed shot into the corner.
All have a time and place, all can be effective if executed correctly.
None, though, are as noble as the last option: rounding the ‘keeper. It is football’s finest art. It is a move for a select few because it requires a player to have skill, silken touch, perfect spatial awareness, and balance. Most of all, to perform it correctly, they need to have ice running through their veins.
If it doesn’t come off, the player who’s tried it looks very silly indeed – so much so, that many have now abandoned it for more statistically effective methods of finishing one-on-ones.
But when it does come off, there are few better things to watch. The sidestep, the goalkeeper on their backside, the ball effortlessly tucked in the back of the empty net. And Manchester United target Kamaldeen Sulemana, it seems, is looking to revive the art.
Sulemana made a good start to the 2020-21 Danish league season, scoring four in 12 in the lead up to the winter break. And when Norsjaelland returned to action, the 19-year-old Ghana international showed every sign that he was ready to pick back up where he’d left off.
Just before half-time in a post-Christmas friendly against Helsingor, Sulemana received a bullet through-ball at waist height. No worry. He used the pace on the ball to flick it up, over and past his marker, and he was through.
The next touch was vital. Most would have chosen to shoot immediately, but not this young man. He stared into the whites of the goalkeeper’s eyes, knew he had his number, gave a little shimmy to the left and poked it to his right. Sulemana was in and the ‘keeper lay helpless on the frozen ground. It was clearly enough to get the scouts looking in his direction.
Ghanaian wonderkid Kamaldeen Sulemana had seven goal contributions in the first half of the Danish Superliga season for FC Nordsjaelland.
— Tom Maston (@TomMaston) January 17, 2021
That should, by all rights, have been the start of a brilliant start to the second half of the season. Unfortunately for young Sulemana, his form dropped off a little in February and March.
At the business end of the campaign however, when things got serious, he started performing once more. Sulemana now has six goals in his last six. And how did he start off that brilliant run? By sitting a ‘keeper on his backside, of course.
As the Danish season entered the play-off stage in April, Nordsjaelland faced AGF and when the ball broke on the counter in the 17th minute, Sulemana was ready.
He darted onto a through-ball, surged past his nearest marker, looked the ‘keeper in the eyes once more and repeated the trick. A shimmy to the left, a touch to the right, a goalkeeper prostrate and a tap in to top off a lethal break.
The pace and poise of Kamaldeen Sulemana ⚡️…
The 19-year-old Ghanaian forward scores his first Nordsjaelland goal since November.
— Tom Maston (@TomMaston) April 4, 2021
That lighting speed and ability to counter-attack would make him a fine fit for Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s plans to create a super-nimble United attack. But Sulemana has plenty more strings to his bow. He loves a trick, can assist and can cut in and curl shots into the corner.
So skilful is he that Nordsjaelland coach Flemming Pedersen told TV3 Sport: “We are talking about a player with potential on a par with Neymar, and maybe even more than that because he is even faster.”
But the option he takes when one-on-one mean, in this particular instance, comparisons to another Brazilian might be more apt. His choice of finish is more Ronaldo Fenomeno than Neymar.
Rounding the ‘keeper is a footballing fine art. And if Sulemana can bring it to the Premier League, we have one thing to say: yes please.