Hibs completed the signing of exciting Ghanaian winger Thomas Agyepong on Wednesday. Joel Sked looks at fans can expect from the new recruit.
Style of play
If Thomas Agyepong gets up to speed with the Scottish game quickly, Hibs fans should have an exciting player on their hands. There are similarities to Brandon Barker, who has joined Preston following last season’s loan to Hibs from Manchester City.
Aside from a very similar career path – Barker spent time on loan at NAC Breda alongside Agyepong - both are very direct and very quick, playing from the left. Where they separate is in how they carry the ball. Barker utilises uses his pace, drop of the shoulder and acceleration to motor away from opponents. Agyepong is more ambidextrous, more comfortable using both feet, while he is fond of a stepover.
His dribbling is his key asset. The season he was with Barker in the Netherlands he averaged 12.58 dribbles per 90 minutes. Only Barker managed to top that with 12.79.
Agyepong has missed a lot of football in the past three campaigns. The 21-year-old played only 638 minutes last season, his campaign ravaged by a hamstring injury, while 2016/2017 was more productive although he only started ten league games for NAC Breda as they won promotion to the Dutch top tier. His first year in the Netherlands with Twente brought just over 700 minutes of game time.
In an interview with Dutch TV, the player spoke of the muscle injuries and strains he has picked up due to his pace and getting his body more suited to first-team football.
Former NAC manager Stijn Vreven, when speaking to Manchester City for a feature on the player, said that towards the end of the promotion season Agyepong was finally at his peak fitness. As a result he started all four play-off matches and played a crucial role as the team won three and drew won.
Hibs are one of the best counter-attacking sides in the country. In Martin Boyle, Hibs have a player who strikes fear into opponents with his pace.
Add Agyepong into the equation and opposition defences will be scared to push too high up the pitch. If they do they leave themselves vulnerable to the Ghanaian’s pace into the space behind. If they back off they allow the 21-year-old to gather up speed with his dribbling. Not to mention it opens up the pitch for the likes of Boyle, Stevie Mallan and Flo Kamberi.
Pace is such an asset and can mask a number of other weaknesses in other players. Agyepong has pace in abundance but a skill and technical ability to supplement it.
Hot prospect in Ghana
Following Agyepong’s loan move from Manchester City to Twente in 2015 Reuters wrote: “Agyepong is considered one of the brightest emerging stars to have graduated from Ghana’s famous Right to Dream academy.”
Founded in 1999, the academy is one of the most prestigious in Africa, offering children from extreme poverty in West Africa with an opportunity to build a better life.
According to the academy’s website, 38 graduates have gone on to become professional footballers, with a number going on to represent Ghana, including Agyepong.
While not a professional football club, the academy is invited to youth tournaments around the world.
Trial at Celtic
Agyepong spent a week on trial at Celtic when he was 14 but he failed to win a deal, something which he puts down to the Scottish climate having never seen snow before.
Switching Accra, the capital of Ghana, for the east end of Glasgow was a culture shock for the player, who was joined by two fellow trialists.
He told Dutch website BN DeStem: “It was so incredibly cold. I did not know what happened to me. We were not allowed to wear gloves, while white flakes fell from the air. ‘What is this?’ I had never seen snow.
“My hands were frozen after training and I could barely move my feet. Do you know what I think is the worst? Go inside and then have to sweat out again for the second half.”
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