Football can be a really cruel game at times. We have seen youngsters who are chased by massive clubs with multi-million dollar contracts disappear into footballing obscurity. We know we will be too pessimistic to label young Jordon Ibe into that category, but the Englishman has been abysmal whenever presented an opportunity. Many believed that the departure of Sterling to Manchester City would present Ibe with an opportunity to establish himself at Liverpool. However, it has not gone according to the plan for the 19 year old. Despite being the only winger at the club, he has failed to nail down a starting spot in the league and has been absolutely abysmal in Europe.
Where is the Jordon Ibe we think we know?
Ibe burst on the footballing scene as a 15 year old who was unafraid to take on his man. The winger has since flirted with consistent first team football in the Premier League before being loaned out to Championship sides Birmingham and Derby County for development. However, the Jordon Ibe we see these days seems a shadow of himself at just 19 years of age. So how has he fared this season?
Ibe has been largely tidy with his passing. He has averaged an impressive pass completion of close to 86%. However, there are two aspects to his passing that need to be addressed. First of all, a massive 75% of his passes were backwards passes, the second being that he often doesn’t make the right passes, as he often turns a blind eye to his team mates’ runs off the ball.
Former manager Brendan Rodgers had preferred to play the youngster as a wing-back and that has not helped the Englishman’s prospects either. Ibe has created just 3 chances this season, none of which resulted in an assist. We have seen the winger try and get beyond his man on the wings unsuccessfully time and again. He has been dispossessed more than 3 times every 90 minutes often disrupting a good attacking move. For a player who has demonstrated good close control, Ibe has had a number of distinct heavy touches this season, depriving him of that extra moment to split the opposition (3 unsuccessful touches per 90 minutes in League and Europa League).
Ibe always appeared as a player who did not fear taking his man on and beating him with his pace and trickery. However, I can recall instances from this season where Ibe had a chance to lead a counter attack by beating his man, but chose to play safe and let go of opportunities. He has completed just 7 take-ons this season, has not been good in link-up and has often been found guilty of overdoing things. He has not contributed greatly to the defence either, winning just 2 tackles, making two interceptions and winning a solitary aerial duel.
Many pundits and critics claim that Ibe should be played through the centre of the park, rather than on the wings. That would bring out the best of the youngster, who has performed well in that role for England age groups, Birmingham, Derby County and even Liverpool when occasionally deployed there. The arrival of Jurgen Klopp, who has shown a great penchant for developing young raw talent into finished products would only mean positive news for a player who features in the “Youngsters to watch out in the Premier League” list time and again. He remains vital to Liverpool currently as well as in the future and should he be nurtured well, could turn out to be a world beater.