Hibs new signing Rocky Bushiri put it succinctly and accurately when asked to describe his attributes to the club’s support on the day of his signing on loan from Norwich City. In fact, he was being humble when it came to use of the word “quite” to describe his physicality. “Very” would have been more apt.
The 22-year-old is as strong as they come, even for a centre-back. He’s got a broad, steely physique which enables him to win the majority of physical duels.
He plays the game aggressively and should suit the hustle-and-bustle nature of the Scottish top flight. He needs no second invitation to charge out and engage opposition attackers. It’s a part of his game which he could actually do with reigning in a little, if we’re being critical.
At 1.43 fouls per 90 minutes (per Wyscout) his career average is a little high. Only two centre-backs who played ten or more games in last season’s cinch Premiership averaged more. Again, though, he may find greater tolerance from Scottish officials in this regard.
Charging out is a trait that can sometimes leave gaps in the defensive line, but he’s right in saying he’s got the make-up speed to get back quickly. He’s not rapid, but does have above-average pace for a central defender.
Unsurprisingly for an inexperienced defender, he will need to work on his awareness, anticipation and sense of danger, but his football intelligence is enough to get by in the present and improve over time.
His abilities on the ball are there in the advanced statistics. An 87.8 passing accuracy is impressive for someone who’s never played on a team which routinely dominates opponents.
His dribbling success is also high, at 80.6 per cent. Again, only two Premiership defenders scored higher averages last season and he ranks just above Ryan Porteous in that particular table.
Shaun Maloney will probably look to encourage him to take more chances in possession. Despite a stronger success rate, he attempts half as many dribbles as Porteous, while his passing is a little on the safe side.
Hibs have adopted an expansive approach under the new manager with defenders trusted to be instigators of the attack and in this area Bushiri will need to improve. His long passing isn’t anywhere near as accurate as his short game and he’ll be asked to attempt fewer square balls and pass through the lines more often.
Maloney pointed to the ex-Oostende youngster’s “versatility” in defence when waxing lyrical about his fourth January signing. Bushiri is predominantly right-footed but comfortable on his left. He has plenty of experience as both the left and right-sided centre-back, either in a two or a three.
One immediate concern is his lack of aerial prowess. The under-21 international only wins 47.6 per cent of his aerial duels, a worrisome average. The good news is that he doesn’t lack the physical capabilities (height, leap etc) and it’s common for a young defenders to improve this side of their game as they mature. Again taking Porteous as an example, his average has risen from 61 per cent to over 70 in just the last year. The Hibee is a good figure from which Bushiri can learn.