Jeremy Doku was one of the standout performers in Manchester City's 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday. What was impressive was his ability to retain possession in difficult positions as he completed 21 of his 22 passes at the Etihad Stadium.
Seen as something of a wildcard addition by Pep Guardiola in the summer, Doku was part of a stylistic shift as City added ball carriers. Along with Matheus Nunes and Mateo Kovacic, it appeared to be a conscious effort to combat the rise of man-marking.
Doku has already proven his value, scoring against West Ham last weekend, and nobody completed more dribbles against Forest. Of players to have taken on their defender 20 or more times this season, only Jack Grealish does so more regularly than him.
But Doku has shown a different side to his game too. Nobody won more duels against Forest and Guardiola praised the winger for his all-round game when speaking afterwards. He admitted to those of us in the press conference that he had been surprised.
"I am really impressed how good he is one-on-one but [also] how good he is tracking back. He can see the extra pass. He does not exaggerate his running in two-against-ones. He is a really good, clever player, taking decisions in the final third that I did not expect."
Guardiola knew he had signed a quality player in Doku but he did not know he was this good: "I expected incredible speed, incredible one-against-one, but after that, to have the composure, to make the decisions in the final third..." This is a polished player.
Doku can still be Guardiola's wildcard on the wing, testing defences with pace and trickery. But the signs are that there is much more to his game. With his ball retention and his impressive decision-making, he is aRead on m.allfootballapp.com