Position(s): RW, LW, ST
Preferred Foot: Right
Strengths: speed, finishing, ambidexterity, ball-striking, agility, dribbling, upper-body strength, vision
Areas for Development: aerial duels, senior football experience
Premier League 2 Stats: 26 Games, 1970 Mins, 21.9x90s, 11 Goals, 18 Assists
The 2021/22 season would see Manchester City’s U-23 side win their second straight 2021–22 Professional U23 Development League title, with City winning a third straight championship the following season. From that team, Cole Palmer and Romeo Lavia now find themselves at Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea, Rico Lewis is a full-fledged member of City’s first team, whilst Darko Gyabi is at Leeds. James McAtee has returned to Sheffield United on loan after playing a key role in their promotion, whilst Shea Charles, Gavin Bazunu, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Juan Larios and Samuel Edozie are now at Southampton.
There are several players from that team who have chosen to continue their development outside of England — Carlos Forbs Borges made the move to Ajax this summer, Josh Wilson-Esbrand joined Reims on loan, whilst Adedire Mebude has joined Westerlo for £1.65 million. Born in London to Nigerian parents, Mebude joined Rangers’ academy at 10 years of age, progressing through the ranks before rejecting a contract at the age of 16 and taking his talents to Manchester City. He quickly made an impression, being named the academy player’s player of the year for the 2021/22 season.
The following season would see him play a key role in City’s third consecutive title with 11 goals and 13 assists in 26 Premier League 2 appearances as well as three goals and one assist in six UEFA Youth League appearances. This would see him nominated for the Premier League 2 Player of the Season award alongside City teammates Oscar Bobb and Borges, Southampton’s Dominic Ballard, West Brom’s Reyes Cleary, Chelsea’s Alfie Gilchrist, Crystal Palace’s Jack Wells-Morrison and Leeds’ Mateo Joseph Fernandez, but it was Borges who took home the accolade.
With contract talks stalled, Mebude had plenty of interest from clubs like PSV, Club Brugge and Tottenham, but instead, he chose to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Dapo — who had moved to Oostende the previous year — and take his talents to Belgium. He has electric speed with a direct, dynamic style of play, and he loves to take on players and has plenty of flair and tricks up his sleeves to drift past defenders.
Mebude is dangerous on both his left and right side so when running at defenders and using stepovers, it can be hard to predict which way he’ll go. Then with the drop of a shoulder, he can accelerate past defenders and his top agility enables him to weave in and out of challenges.
The Scotland youth international possesses a coolness & composure in front of goal. His ambidexterity makes him such a dangerous winger because he’s equally as dangerous cutting inside on his ‘weak’-foot as he is going outside on his stronger foot (right). That much so that he’s just as deadly on both flanks, and his ball-striking & finishing prowess on both feet offers a unique threat to an attacking line-up.
One of the reasons Mebude is a dangerous dribbler is his explosive power & upper-body strength. When shoulder-to-shoulder with defender, he just shrugs them off him to barge through a defence. Physicality + athleticism + clinical finishing + precise delivery + 1v1 ability = a scarily good prospect. He has immense technique and composure in the final third. His vision and creativity merged with his direct style of play accredits his top chance creation and high assists numbers (18). When beating his man to get to the byline, he looks up to see players in space and executes pinpoint passes to teammates in space.
With his contract set to expire in 2024, Mebude elected to depart England and make the move to Belgium, coming off the bench in their 1-0 defeat to Club Brugge and 3-1 defeat to Gent. He made his first start for the club in Brussels, only to be replaced at halftime for Yusuke Matsuo with Anderlecht winning 1-0 and holding onto a 2-1 victory. Westerlo have suffered a dismal start with just one point from six matches, and they’ll be counting on Mebude as they look to escape the relegation zone and bounce back with a daunting run of fixtures that will see them host defending champions Antwerp before traveling to Standard Liege and Genk.
By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / James Gill – Danehouse / Getty Images