Chelsea and Spurs in race to land £30m demon dribbler with world class potential
A frighteningly fun teenager has been linked with a move to London - and has the skill to light up the Premier League.
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At just 18 years of age, Antonio Nusa is already an international goalscorer and a man in demand –the supremely talented young Norwegian has been linked with a move to London, with Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham all allegedly interested in a deal which Football Insider suggest could cost as much as £30m. It’s a lot of money for a young man, but Nusa could well be worth the risk.
Since moving from Stabæk in his home country to Belgian Pro League outfit Club Brugge in 2021, Nusa has earned himself a reputation as an exciting and explosive inside forward with the ball-carrying skills to take opposing defences to pieces – and he’s recently demonstrated that his skills transfer a higher level, winning four caps for Norway since scoring on his debut in a friendly game against Jordan in September. It isn’t surprising that Premier League clubs would be tracking his progress.
Nusa, a right-footed player who typically plays as an inside forward cutting in from the left flank, is exceptionally impressive with the ball – his control and ability to shift quickly from one foot to the other, combined with the full range of flicks and tricks, means he has the skill to beat just about any defender at will, and while he isn’t necessarily up there with the very fastest players he has the ability to burst forward from a standing start, making him a nightmare to tackle.
That capacity to beat his man means he has some pretty staggering dribbling stats, with nearly seven progressive carries per game and five successful one-on-ones every match he plays, both numbers that eclipse all but the very best wingers in the biggest leagues.
He’s also got great movement off the ball, drifting quickly into space and dragging defenders out of position with regularity – and as such he provides a ton of dangerous passing options, with nearly 14 progressive passing receptions per game, an absolutely colossal number. All that skill means he gets a ton of shooting opportunities, too, which result in nearly four shots per match and a goal every three games.
Those numbers hint a little at some of the development he still needs to do – he generates an enormous volume of chances for himself but his composure and decision-making need work. He scores at a healthy enough rate, but that’s down to quantity rather than quality, with his average shot on goal worth only a shade over 0.05xG. That’s been good for two league goals this season, but it could easily have been more with better shot selection.
If he can learn when to look for a second option rather than taking a pot shot, he will probably generate quite a few more chances for his team. Happily, he’s so good at creating space and shooting chances that his profligacy aren’t really an issue – he might not make the right call with one chance, but he’ll make sure he has another go very soon.
He could also be smarter with his defensive positioning – while he’s a very willing member of a team press with good number of tackles and interceptions, he does tend to charge in rather than knowing when to go for the ball and when to stand off and close down a passing angle. He’ll make tackles, but also get beaten too often and too easily when defending one-on-one.
Of course, the issues are one you’d expect from a teenager – his decision-making and reading of a situation are works in progress, but his raw talent is unquestionable. If he gets the right coach at his next club, one who can teach him how to weigh up his options more effectively, he has the tools to become a world-class player.
The question for any Premier League team considering a bid is whether he would make an impact on their performances right away, or whether he’s a developmental prospect who would need time on loan. He’s surely too good to not be getting gametime somewhere, but are those quick feet and mazy dribbling skills enough to make him a player who would make a difference in the English top tier right away?
Fulham would stand to gain the most, perhaps, with their rather limp attacking line in need of someone who could give it some spark. Nusa will have games where he frustrates, but he will likely win a team in the lower half of the table at least some points on his own.
Chelsea, by comparison, would be hard-pressed to find room for yet another wide forward and ensure that he spent enough time on the field of play. They already have work to do in developing Noni Madueke and Mykhayko Mudryk in similar roles. Spurs seem like the middle ground option – they could do with depth on the wing with Richarlison and Manor Solomon out and Son Heung-Min required up front, and while he might not be a regular from the get-go, he should still be good enough to contribute.
There are some injury concerns to note, too – he missed Norway’s matches this international break with a recurrence of a back injury that already saw him miss several games earlier this season. Whether that injury is liable to linger isn’t clear, but persistent problems at such a young age may give potential purchasers pause for thought, at least.
Whoever gets Nusa – and whatever the veracity of the rumours linking him with a move to the Premier League, he won’t be in Belgium for too much longer – will get a truly thrilling player, and one who has the talent to turn defences inside out time and again and who adds a ton of flair and threat to an attack. He’s a hell of a lot of fun, and looks like he could be a huge part of the future of European football if he can learn the lessons he needs to. Whether a Premier League club becomes the one who takes the chance on him remains to be seen.
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