In a recent interview these were Jordon’s words, when asked about replacing Raheem.
“He’s a good player, I’m happy for him, but it’s a chance for me to prove myself to the gaffer and hopefully I can get a chance to play in the Premier League.
“It’s good for all the young players to get out there, especially for me.
“Hopefully I can do well in the pre-season, improve and show I can play in the first team.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of double sessions, but I’m enjoying the training, hopefully when the season starts we’re all fit and we can win games.”
Those are the words of a nineteen year old man who is keen to impress and establish himself in the side. He as with his standing on the pitch, displays a sense of maturity, well beyond his years. He has self awareness, is grounded and is showing great signs that he has the mental attributes to combine with his undeniable potential, to become a very special player indeed.
His key quality for me is his fearlessness. Once the ball reaches his feet, he has the confidence to drive at the heart of the opposition, turn opponents and put the team on the front foot. That quality to dribble at pace and with penetration is rare in seasoned performers, but to do it at 19 is almost unthinkable.
His physical power and strength is quite astounding. By his own admission he does no extra gym work, he was luckily built the way he is and doesn’t want to add anymore muscle to take away any of his natural pace. Not many players in world football have that raw power, with such pure unadulterated pace. The speed, that could give ever the most fleet footed of defenders something to fear; is an undeniably strong asset when combined with his strength, especially for the pace and intensity of the Premier League.
Another facet of Ibe’s game, is that he can play effectively in multiple positions. Whilst others may struggle when asked to fill a role, such as wing back. Ibe embraced the opportunity last season, with both hands. Not only did he attack, directly with power, speed and tenacity as you’d expect with his explosiveness and raw pace. But he also played with a level of discipline and positional nous, which more than pleasantly surprised me.
I’ve often expressed that game intelligence is the key element, from making a young player good, too great. For me Ibe shows real promise due to this. Firstly because of his positional flexibility, but also because his movement. He makes incisive runs, with excellent timing. He knows when to drive forward and when it’s wise to lay the ball off. He looks to have that tactical understanding that so many players of his age lack.
At this stage, I honestly couldn’t say where I see him becoming a fixture in the first 11. Not because he doesn’t have the talent required, just because he’s so versatile. His dribbling and acceleration, eludes to success as a winger. His pace and movement, a striker. But he has intelligence and subtlety to his game, that makes me think he’d be a strong 10. Ideally in a fluid system, he can start in one position, but switch and drift to influence the game.
I do respect that he’s raw, his decision making at times is questionable, but that’s to be expected for his age. I just look at the strides he’s made in the last year alone and whilst I’m not a fan of the talk of a players ‘ceiling’, Jordon’s is very very high. He’s improving game on game, the next step being goals and assists, but that will come sooner, rather than later.
I rarely get carried away with the hype younger players receive, because it can add a level of expectancy, which a player simply cannot live up too. Simply put Jordon Ibe excites supporters, no matter where he plays on the pitch. When he receives the ball, the sense of expectation in the ground is palpable. That anticipation is not only inspiring to the player, but the team mates surrounding him. Players that command that level of attention are a rare breed, they can create fear in the heart of an opposition, something all supporters crave.
It’s clear Jordon has a bright future, will he replicate Sterling’s success or value?! Right now, nobody knows. My question is why does it matter? For too long, players are now the next this player, or the next that. Jordon, just as with all young players, will be compared to others. My hope and wish, is that people judge Jordon on his own merits, on his own talents and appreciate him for the player he is, a very talented one at that.
Latest posts by Rory Greenfield (see all)
- Liverpool Football Club – Success will arrive, it’s only a matter of time. - November 21, 2015
- Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge – The architects of success - October 1, 2015
- Liverpool Supporters – We deserve more - September 16, 2015