Abdou Diedhiou Jarju: Gambia’s Precocious Young Winger

Abdou Diedhiou Jarju was born in the small West African nation of Gambia on 19 February 2002. He began his footballing career at Gambian club Tallinding United. While playing there he caught the attention of established Senegalese Ligue 1 (Senegal’s top division) side Casa Sports.


Subsequently, Jarju transferred to Casa Sports in November 2019. His transition was seamless as he became one of Casa Sports key players during the second half of the 2019/2020 Senegalese Ligue 1 season.  The Coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the 2020/2021 season and a long-term injury meant that Jarju barely featured in the latter part of 2020 and into early 2021. Since recovering from injury in May 2021 he regained his place and was a regular in Casa Sports’ starting line-up until the end of the season. 


Jarju is a dual national and although born in Gambia is also eligible to represent Senegal. He did receive a call up to the Senegal U20 team in February 2020 but did not feature due to an ankle injury. At present, it is unclear which country he will commit his international future to.


Player Summary


Jarju is right-footed and usually plays on the left wing for Casa Sports. His strengths and areas of improvement are set out in the table below.


Strengths Areas for Improvement
– Quick with good acceleration – Lacks strength
– Great balance, coordination and agility – Stamina is not impressive
– Excellent close control when travelling with the ball  – Sometimes too predictable in his dribbling as he cuts infield often
– Fluid and languid dribbling style helps him evade challenges – Rarely makes runs in behind the opposition’s defence 
– Keeps his head up and scans the field while dribbling  – Little aerial presence 
– Has the vision to spot teammates movements while dribbling and find them with a pass – Does not score enough goals 
– Strikes the ball cleanly with his right foot  – Inconsistent passing accuracy
– Good set piece taker  – Lacks defensive workrate and intensity
– Active and busy in his movements to receive the ball to feet  – Lacks aggressiveness in duels and in his dribbling 


A detailed analysis of Jarju’s profile, projected potential, and two clubs that would be advisable for his next move is provided below.




Jarju usually starts matches as a left winger in a 4-3-3 formation for Casa Sports. However, there are times when he is moved across to the right wing to try and influence the match from that area as well. As he predominantly plays as a left winger this is the position focused on. 


When his team have possession, it appears as if Jarju is given freedom to roam around the left-hand side of the pitch. This means he is not forced to stay solely on the touchline to receive the ball but also encouraged to drop deeper and narrower to receive the ball. Additionally, he appears to be assigned the role of a wide creator in that he is expected to receive the ball, beat opponents and then provide crosses or defence-splitting passes for his attacking teammates to exploit.



With regards to defensive responsibilities, it seems that Jarju is primarily tasked with pressing the opposition’s right back and right-sided centre back when they receive the ball to try and win the ball higher up the field and initiate a counterattack.


If the opponents beat his press, there does not seem to be any expectation that he sprints back into a more defensive position to help his team defend. There also does not appear to be any other defensive instructions given to him regarding his defensive positioning. 


Attributes and Style of Play


Physical Attributes


Jarju looks around 1.75m to 1.78m in height which is a common height for many wide players. His smallish height gives him a lower centre of gravity which aids his balance and coordination. This enables him to change direction quickly and smoothly and maintain his footing while travelling with the ball at varying speeds. His good balance also allows him to frequently use body swerves and feints as a way of creating distance and space between himself and his nearest marker to manoeuvre the ball more easily. 


Jarju can burst away from opponents over the first few yards and reaches his top speed quickly. He also has the capability of maintaining his top speed over longer distances with and without the ball. Once he has accelerated, he can create and maintain separation between himself and his nearest opponent as it is hard for them to keep pace with him. 


The interlinking of Jarju’s agility and speed is evident when he receives the ball on his back foot with his back to the nearest opponent. He quickly moves the ball a few steps infield, throws a feint or body swerve as if he is going to turn back outfield. This forces his nearest opponent to try and anticipate the movement by stepping towards their right i.e., the touchline.


Just as he throws the feint and shifts his body towards his back foot, he rapidly catapults himself forward using his back foot to swivel away from the defender and back infield. This allows him to create the space needed to turn and speed away from his nearest marker. 


Although Jarju’s agility and speed is impressive, he is very skinny and lacks strength. This is a major weakness in his profile as he is too easily outmuscled and unbalanced when he comes into close contact with opponents especially in 1v1 situations and in tighter areas. This results in him losing possession more frequently than he should and makes it easier for opponents to defend against him.


He can improve his strength through a strength-based exercise regime that focuses on the gradual increase of lean muscle to his upper body in particular. Muscle gain will give him added stability and robustness when receiving physical contact and will help him hold off opponents’ physical pressure more effectively. 



From the games reviewed, Jarju’s stamina looks ok. He can produce high speed sprints with and without the ball for most of the match. Like many players, he does tire in the mid-to-late second half period from around 65 minutes onwards. However, it was noticeable on a few occasions that after 65-70 minutes that he was struggling to contribute physically.


He could certainly improve his stamina and it would be advisable that he does if he wishes to perform at a higher, more intense level of football than the Senegalese Ligue 1. His stamina can be improved by incorporating a high-intensity workout regime into his lifestyle as this will help him produce more sprints throughout the matches.


As a wide player being able to produce many high-intensity sprints with and without the ball will enable him to break clear of opponents more often in turn helping his team have more passing options, retain possession, create chances and score goals. 


Close Control and Dribbling 


Jarju has excellent close control when travelling with the ball. He always keeps the ball very close to his foot and takes lots of delicate touches with his foot as he carries the ball forward and changes direction. He also incorporates tricks and skills when faced with an opponent to try and evade their challenges.


His dribbling style encompasses excellent close control, distinctive poise and fluid, languid movements. This enables him to weave past opponents at high speed and orientate his body in one direction then another quickly while retaining close control of the ball and dodging challenges. This style also means he is good at drawing fouls as he can outwit and unbalance defenders forcing them to foul him to prevent his progress. 


Generally, Jarju will receive the ball on the left wing and attempt to dribble by cutting infield and driving at opponents. This can make him too predictable at times and smart defenders can read his intentions and take steps to force him backwards or pinch the ball off him as he attempts to cut infield. He therefore needs to become more unpredictable on receipt of the ball by using his dribbling style, speed and agility to take on defenders down the touchline too. 


When Jarju does cut infield with his dribbling, not only does he attempt to drive at and beat onrushing opponents, but he also keeps his head up and scans the pitch to see if he can play a forward pass. Most noticeably when he cuts infield, he regularly attempts to feed a reverse pass into a teammate making a run from a central area out to the left wing. These passes highlight his good vision while dribbling as he can identify teammates runs and try to find them with a pass. 


Jarju tends to keep his arms very close to his body when dribbling which means opponents can easily step across or barge him out of the way and recover the ball. He therefore needs to learn how to use his arms more effectively to fend off and push aside opponents trying to get close to him and impose their physical strength.



Half of that will come from increasing the strength of his arms as mentioned previously but the other half comes from him moving his arms slightly further away from his body when opponents are nearby to make it harder for them to get close enough to him to win the ball without committing an obvious foul. 


Striking Technique


Jarju has a nice ball-striking technique with the instep of his right foot. This shows itself in his corner kicks and free kicks as well as his crosses and shots at goal from inside and outside the box in open play. The accuracy of these crosses and shots is not perfect but often he will produce a dangerous cross or shot when the opportunity presents itself. 


With the quality Jarju possesses when he strikes the ball with the inside of his right foot, he needs to utilise this more often to be more impactful and influential in the final third for his team. To do this he needs to arrive more frequently in positions in and around the box where he can receive the ball or capitalise on defensive errors to provide crosses or take shots at goal.


He can do this by working on the training ground on making more subtle, diagonal and curved runs from the left wing and left channel into the area in and around the box. Like Jarju’s crossing and shooting, he also strikes the ball well when passing the ball. However, the accuracy of his passing is very inconsistent. He is comfortable passing via quick, short pass interplays in the middle third and rarely secedes possession in this situation.


Whereas when he tries to make reverse passes as he comes infield and passes the ball out wide, he is more inaccurate. Sometimes he executes the reverse pass precisely but on other occasions, he underhits the pass or plays the pass at the wrong angle which results in the opponent’s defender intercepting the pass. He also occasionally attempts longer range passes, but these are often underhit which gives the opposition the opportunity to win the ball and disrupts the flow of the build-up or attacking phase. 


Jarju can improve his passing in two ways. Firstly, he needs to improve his attentiveness on the ball as he attempts to deliver a pass by focusing on making the pass with the requisite speed and at the right angle. Secondly, he can improve his passing by striking the ball with a little bit more force to increase the speed of his passes therefore reducing the chances of his passes being underhit. He can work on improving the speed of his passes in training ground drills which should help him replicate this in matches. 


Movement off the Ball


Jarju is active off the ball throughout matches and does not tend to stay in one position to receive the ball. Sometimes he will be stood on the touchline and position himself to receive the ball and other times he will move into a central midfield area to show for the ball.


He will also roam into the left channel between the opposition’s left winger and central midfielder or left back and centre back to offer a passing option. While occasionally he will drop very deep, deeper than the defensive midfielder and almost in line with the left back to collect the ball.


Jarju’s continuous off the ball movement into different areas to receive the ball during matches is useful as it means he cannot be pinned down easily and marked out of the game. It also shows that he is hungry to receive the ball and try to help his team in possession whether they are winning or losing. 



The only concern with Jarju’s off the ball movement is that he usually moves into areas to receive the ball in front of his direct opponent. This means they can always see where he is and do not have to worry about him posing a threat in behind them. As such, making him easier to defend against. He therefore needs to make more off-the-ball runs behind the opposition’s left back and left centre-back.


This will cause an added defensive headache and make it harder for opposition defenders to predict what he is going to do off the ball. He can rehearse off the ball runs in behind the defence in training as that will help him time these runs and ensure he is not caught offside too often. A clever run he can work on perfecting is moving towards the ball to offer a passing option, in turn drawing his nearest marker with him into a deeper position leaving space in behind them.


Then quickly spinning in behind his marker unexpectedly and signaling for the ball to be played into the space his nearest marker has vacated by following him further up the field as he dropped deeper to offer a passing option.


This will mean he can then receive the ball in space with his nearest marker chasing him, the opposition’s defence unbalanced and with the opportunity to play a dangerous cross or pass free from pressure or drive at a centre-back or midfielder dragged out of position to cover the space left by their right back teammate. 


Defensive Workrate


Jarju has poor defensive workrate and intensity. It appears that he is expected to press the opposition’s right back when they receive the ball, but he usually does so begrudgingly and rarely makes it difficult for the right back to find a forward pass. 


When Jarju does get close enough to an opposition player to make a challenge to impede their progress they are usually half-hearted and ineffective. In most cases he commits a foul or the opponent simply moves past him without much difficulty. 



In addition, when Jarju is bypassed and is higher up the field than he should be his desire to race back into a solid defensive position is questionable. Sometimes he will show a willingness to get back and help his team defend but other times he will dawdle back and fail to help his team defensively. 


Jarju needs to improve his defensive workrate and intensity significantly if he wants to succeed at a higher level. He will need to change his mindset and realise that he needs to consistently contribute to the defensive side of the game.


This includes pressing intensely to try and win possession or disrupt the opposition’s build-up rather than pressing for the sake of it as well as using his speed to recover into helpful defensive positions as soon as he can when a turnover occurs, or he is bypassed in the opposition’s build-up play. This change of mindset along with improving his stamina should make him better defensively. 




Gauging Jarju’s mentality purely from video footage is not easy and may not be reflective of what is seen when watching him live. Nevertheless, from the footage analysed he looks too laid back in his approach. He lacks determination to fight for the ball and hold his ground when he receives physical pressure. Consequently, he is too easily bundled off the ball. There were instances where if he had shown a bit more aggression, he may have been able to withstand the pressure and maintain possession. 


Jarju’s lack of determination and aggressiveness as seen when tussling for the ball is also apparent when he is in possession of the ball. He does not drive at opponents with as much purpose as he should do and fails to utilise his dribbling style, speed and balance to allude opponents as often as he should.


Instead, too often he receives the ball faces the defender up and then makes a simple pass infield or turns and passes backwards. On other occasions he will beat his man in a deeper position and then play a simple sideways pass rather than carrying the ball further upfield and look to create an opening.


Player Analysis: Dembo Darboe


Jarju’s apparent relaxed attitude does not mean he cannot be more aggressive and determined in and out of possession. As he matures and is given more direct demands and instructions from his coaches in terms of what they require from him in and out of possession this should help improve his on-pitch mentality. 


Long-term Potential


Having analysed Jarju across numerous Senegalese Ligue 1 and Coupe de Senegal matches he has shown the technical quality, dribbling style, off the ball movement, speed and coordination to suggest he can perform at a higher level. Jarju’s potential is that of a starting left winger for a club in Europe’s top 10 leagues providing he can address the weaknesses in his game. 


Potential Future Clubs


Jarju should ideally play a full uninterrupted season in the Senegalese Ligue 1 for Casa Sports before transferring to a club at a higher level. However, moving this summer would not be a terrible decision. He would just have to be prepared to be a backup player and work to iron out his key deficiencies before he will be ready to start matches. 


Jarju needs to make sure his next step is the right one. At 19 years of age a wrong move could derail his career completely or set it back years.  There are plenty of clubs that Jarju can go to that would provide him with the right environment on and off the pitch for him to succeed. So, let’s take a look at two of the clubs where he could move to, adapt and flourish:


  1. Eupen


Eupen finished 12th in the Jupiler Pro League (Belgium’s top division). They had an average season and will be hoping to improve next season. The minimum expectation of keeping their place in the Jupiler Pro League should be possible with their current squad. 


A position where Eupen evidently need to strengthen for the future is the left-wing position. They have a few players who can play in that position like Konan N’Dri and Julien Ngoy however it is uncertain if either of them will remain at the club this summer or next summer. With this in mind, they will lack depth in this position if they do not sign another left winger this summer or next summer.


A good option to fulfil this backup left-wing role is Jarju. He is a technically gifted player, who can slalom past opponents, combine with teammates and create chances. He is also used to playing in a 4-3-3 formation, which is usually adopted by their coach. In consideration of his flaws along with the time needed to adapt to a higher-level competition, if he joined this summer, especially, he would probably be an impact substitute for at least 12 months.


However, the qualities he possesses mean that after 18 months in which time he should have developed physically and improved in some, if not all, of the weaker facets of his game he would be capable of starting on a regular basis.  Transferring to Eupen would be ideal for Jarju. Whether it be this summer or next summer such a move would provide him with a nice environment to advance.


Player Analysis: Charles De Ketelaere


They are a club who have a good reputation for developing young talent, including young African players. Therefore, they know when a young player is ready for first-team football and will give them the right opportunities at the right time. Alongside this Eupen have the mechanisms in place that would ensure Jarju is able to access good coaching and get adequate guidance and support to enhance his strengths and hone his weaknesses.


For a young player this is vital. Another bonus is that having grown up in Gambia but also having family and playing in Senegal, he will likely be able to speak both English and French. This would make the transition to Belgium easier as many people in Belgium speak both languages. 


    2. Nancy


Nancy is currently in Ligue 2 (the French second tier) and finished in 8th position last season. It will be tough for them to compete for promotion next season with their current squad. They should therefore look to strengthen their squad by adding a blend of experienced players and young exciting talent to their squad this summer and next summer with the goal of pushing for promotion in the 2022/2023 season. 


In consideration of their current squad Nancy lack wingers but this is somewhat understandable as towards the end of last season they played with either a 5-3-2 or 3-4-1-2 formation. Neither system requires wingers. It is important however to have players of varying profiles, capable of playing different roles to allow for tactical variation and flexibility. They should therefore look to add a couple more wingers to their squad this summer and next summer.


One of those should be Jarju. He has qualities such as his fluid dribbling style which they have little of in their squad. He would therefore provide them with something a little unique and give them more attacking weapons to utilise against opponents, especially off the bench. While he would also be cheap compared to similar level players currently playing in Europe. 


Moving to Nancy either this summer or next summer, makes sense for Jarju. They are playing in a better league than the Senegalese Ligue 1, are likely to be in upper midtable next season and potentially challenging for promotion the season after and there would be little expectation or pressure on him. As such he could arrive under the radar and focus on his game.


Additionally, if he joined them, he would probably be an impact sub as it is likely the manager would switch to a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 formation if they were chasing a goal or looking to counter-attack later in matches. This would suit him during his period of adaptation. After maybe 6-12 months he would then be ready to start consistently.


However, the manager would probably need to play a 4-2-3-1, 3-4-3, 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 formation for him to start regularly. Although, he could be converted into an attacking midfielder occupying spaces more centrally which would enable him to start if the manager persisted with a starting formation without wingers. 


By: Daniel Ajuh / @Daniel_Ajuh

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / https://www.facebook.com/Abdou-Lamin-Jarju-SoxcyChris-100570125274763/