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Mohammed Kudus: How is the Ajax and Ghana star scoring so frequently?

10:53 WAT 22/09/2022
Mohammed Kudus Brazil-Ghana
The attacker, who has been in outstanding form for the Eredivisie side, could continue that form in Friday’s friendly against Brazil

Kudus has had an interesting few weeks at Ajax, from going absent hoping to force a move to Everton, to becoming the club’s in-form forward who can do no wrong.

A couple of Kudus’ goals have been remarkable, with a cracking effort at Anfield probably the pick of the bunch.

In this feature, GOAL highlight the numbers that have typified the Ghana international’s outstanding run in front of goal, analyse some of those efforts and point out why Otto Addo will be delighted with the 22-year-old’s opportune streak.

  • Mohammed Kudus

    Scoring rate

    Kudus’ four Eredivisie strikes have come in seven appearances, with only two being starts.

    The Ghana international is scoring a goal every 60 minutes, although this is not the best frequency in the Dutch top flight among players to have scored more than once — Feyenoord’s Santiago Gimenez has found the back of the net twice from five substitute appearances, with those goals coming every 55 minutes.

    Among Champions League participants to have netted at least twice, only nine outdo Kudus who is averaging a goal every 88 minutes — a list that includes Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski who respectively are scoring every 55, 60 and 60 minutes.

  • Mohamed Kudus of Ghana and Ajax.

    Breakdown of goals

    All four of the 22-year-old’s Eredivisie strikes have come inside the box, with the Ghanaian proving to be a menace inside the penalty area.

    The theme is repeated in Europe, where none of Kudus’ strikes has come from outside the area.

    Unexpectedly, four of the in-form forward’s six goals in all competitions have been netted with his left foot, with two right-footed goals making up the rest of his return.

  • Best goal

    Kudus’ first strike in Europe’s premier competition was one to remember and carries some sentimental value, too.

    The Ghana international still had much to do after receiving a pass from Calvin Bassey in the left half-space, but he held off then spun Rangers right-back James Tavernier, carried the ball into the box before arrowing an effort past Jon McLaughlin that went in off the far post.

    However, the red-hot attacker’s goal at Anfield slightly edges that cracker against the Scottish giants.

    Kudus sealed a 25-pass move against Liverpool which came about after Alfred Schreuder’s troops kept the ball away from the Reds for 84 seconds.

    The finish was a thing of beauty: Kudus received possession from a Steven Berghuis cut-back and took a touch that created separation from Virgil van Dijk before powering his effort off the underside of the bar before Allison Becker could set himself.

    It was the perfect strike to seal an outstanding team move.

  • Mohammed Kudus

    Underrated movement

    Kudus’ intelligent positioning off the ball, which has led to high-percentage chances or shot attempts, has been another striking theme.

    This has been evident in goals against Cambuur, where he found room for a tap-in, in the 5-0 success over Heerenveen, where his second came about similarly, and Sunday’s strike at AZ Alkmaar.

    Two notable incidents in the last month have not resulted in a goal but demonstrated Kudus’ recognition of the best positions to occupy.

    In the 4-0 success over Rangers, he lost Tavernier and is open for a tap-in from six yards, but Devyne Rensch understandably opts to shoot after a flowing Ajax move culminated in the right-back one-v-one with the Gers’ shot-stopper.

    Against Sunday’s opponents, AZ, Kudus created separation from all the bodies in the penalty area following a cross into the box. This allowed the Ghanaian to take a touch amid the cluster after Steven Bergwijn found him, but his effort was cleared off the line by Dani de Wit, preventing an equaliser with 20 minutes to play.

    Ten minutes later, the ball found Dusan Tadic in the right channel inside the box, and the Ghana international moved to the far post hoping to be picked out by the Serbian. However, the Ajax captain opts for a cut-back to Edson Alvarez, whose lay-off to Bergwijn does not result in an equaliser following a goal-line block.

    The ball eventually drops to Kudus in that phase of play; after Tijjani Reijnders’ opportune block ricochets off AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst but the angle was already against the in-form forward.

    Those situations did not result in goals, but that awareness to occupy the favourable spaces and positions should lead to “easy” strikes for the young attacker.

  • Ajax Jurrien Timber (L) and teammate Mohammed Kudus

    Sustainability

    How long can Kudus keep this going?

    The Ajax man has hit nine shots on target in the last five games games, resulting in six goals, and both Champions League strikes have come from Expected Goals (xG) of 0.3.

    Considering one of those shots was cleared off the line against AZ, the said stat should probably read seven goals from nine shots on target.

    While Kudus’ talent in occupying the favourable spaces is unmistakable, such an over-performance is ultimately unsustainable, and a mean reversion is expected sooner or later for a player whose 40 percent goal conversion in the Eredivisie will be unrealistic to sustain.

    The analysis comes with the caveat of a small sample size of games, so it will be sensible to monitor his progress over the coming months.

  • Otto Addo Ghana

    Otto Addo’s Kudus prayer

    Admittedly, there has been an influx of players who have switched allegiance, including Athletic Club’s Inaki Williams.

    However, the forward is not the most prolific in La Liga, while the Ayew brothers are either unproductive in Jordan’s case, or playing outside the competitive leagues in Andre’s case.

    Felix Afena-Gyan has been confined to the Cremonese bench, Benjamin Tetteh has not opened his Hull City account, and Kamaldeen Sulemana has not fired on all cylinders.

    Having Kudus in this form will benefit Addo, even if the Ajax man may not play a central striking role for the Brazil game and the World Cup.