The Harambee Stars defender popularly nicknamed ‘Crouch ‘ due to his height, has developed an interest in recent seasons from top European clubs but nothing as top rate as the Bundesliga.
By Steve Ruigu
Runners up BVB and EPL side Arsenal are all keen on getting him and here’s why he would fit well in both those sides:
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Defensive positioning and Ability
- In the 2021/22 season, Okumu has played extensively both domestically and in Europe, and despite Gent as a club having a shaky season, he’s been key to a lot of the good things they’ve done.
- He is second at the club in clearances per game (3.2) only bettered by Cameroon’s 2017 AFCON winner, Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui (3.9) and also in blocks per game where he has 0.9 blocks per game while Ngadeu has 1.4.
- He still leaves a lot to be desired in passing with a pass completion rate of 77.8 percent but this is primarily due to the fact that he attempts more as the ball passes through him in the build-up, he is 3rd on the team on average passes per game and highest among defenders which underline his the faith his coaches and teammates have in his ball-playing abilities.
Okumu during his days at IF Elfsborg (Image/Courtesy)
- Okumu clocked the fastest in-game speed in Sweden’s top-flight two seasons ago with a sprint at 34.58 km/hr.
- Just to illustrate how fast this is, Arsenal winger Gabriel Martinelli’s fastest speed this season was in a sprint in the game against Chelsea that clocked 34.11 km/hr.
- This ability to maneuver up and down the pitch would be ideal for coach Mikel Arteta who likes to push his Center backs up the pitch during attacking phases and would make Okumu ideal as a CB in a back two or back three or on man-marking duties.
- At BVB only Emre Can would be faster than him (35.49 km/hr). He would also complement that young core of defenders with new signings Nicklas Sule and Nico Schlotterback as well as current squad member Manuel Akanji and help them challenge on all fronts
- You will struggle to find anyone taller on a football pitch than Joseph Okumu. Standing at 1.93 meters, he can rival most strikers in aerial battles as well as being a set-piece attacking threat.
- This coupled with his speed and great positioning makes him an attacker’s nightmare in the Bundesliga and in the EPL where most strikers make their goalscoring opportunities by pulling wide or dropping deep and exploiting Center Backs who can’t match their pace
- Okumu is not known for having chronic injuries or underlying problems and is rarely out for more than 3 or 4 weeks. He played 31 games domestically and twice in the UEFA conference league.
- This consistency makes him an asset to any team that takes him on and both Arsenal and BVB expect to have very long 22/23 seasons where consistency will be key.
Okumu in national team colours. He has been a mainstay with the team in recent years.
Compared to other central defenders with similar attributes who play for European national sides such as French international Jules Kounde or Dutch youngsterJurrien Timber who are going to cost upwards of €45 million, Okumu is likely to cost only a tenth of that with estimates ranging between €4.5-5 million which for clubs like BVB represents a low risk, high reward option given that Okumu has the ability to become a first-team member immediately without much of an adjustment period.
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