Everton Scout Report: Vadis Odidja-Ofoe Analysis

The final transfer window purchase from David Moyes left many fans asking ‘Vadis who?’ as the club swooped to get the Belgian Vadis Odidja-Ofoe on loan with a view to a permanent deal in the summer – a move which should be ratified by FIFA tomorrow morning. With previous moves for long standing Moyes target Michael Essien and the rangy/ limited Steven Nzonzi proceeding it, the idea of a 3rd choice target may have concerned some fans but as we will explore this late midfield deadline day deal has a lot more ‘Fellaini’ than ‘Castillo’ about it.

Quick career synopsis

Vadis is a defensive midfielder by trade who has in recent times developed more into an attacking midfielder. His form playing in this role last season led to him being nominated for the Jupiler Pro Player of the Year award after his best season at Brugge. Since moving to the club in 2009 he has bagged 12 goals in just over 100 games. He is half Ghanaian but has committed his international allegiance to Belgium where he has a couple of caps thus far.

He has decent experience considering he is just 23;  initially at Gent as a youth he then spent his formative years at Belgian powerhouse Anderlecht before moving onto Club Brugge, the bigger of the 2 sides based in Belgium’s beer capital. Sandwiched between this was a 12 month spell in the Bundesliga where Vadis followed his former Anderlecht team mate Vincent Kompany – a move which had limited success. Interestingly, Kompany was vocal on Twitter yesterday of what a top talent Vadis is.

Versatility 

As noted, Vadis can play as a defensive midfielder or as an attacking midfielder. Whilst he is 6ft and has the physical presence required for the Premier League, he is very capable on the ball with great feet and capable of short/long range distribution and possesses the agility to take players on – certainly more so then his compatriot Fellaini. His natural game is to roam forward rather than sit.

Over to the man himself…..

. “It’s only logical that I can play more directly forward. We didn’t have Niki Zimling (former colleague) who has brought rest and backing to the table. Not that the guys playing at Club before him weren’t worthy, but no one filled the shoes of the regulator in midfield. I did what I could, but I couldn’t just let go of that frivolous part of my play. That leads to bad positioning choices at times, with dire consequences. Self-confidence plays its part too, of course. Making an action leading to the first goal in our home game against AA Gent, getting past five opponents that can only happen when you feel sure of yourself as a player. It doesn’t matter that much to me where in midfield I play. That certainly hasn’t made a difference to me, and I have no trouble playing a bit higher or lower at times”.

Ball Winner

For me its more likely that when called upon Vadis will fill in as a defensive midfielder with Fellaini now deployed further forward. The ideal centre midfield combination is one ball player and one runner/ball winner. Currently Osman and Gibson look like ‘first picks’ in centre midfield but neither is a ball winner hence Neville slotting in vs Man Utd. For this reason I can see his ball winning capability more suited to games against sides who keep the ball better in the higher echelons of the division.

At 6ft he brings an imposing, ruthless physical stature to compliment the existing midfield options we have at the club. Last season he picked up 7 yellow cards and has also picked up 3 red cards in as many seasons during his time at Brugge so he isn’t afraid of imposing himself on opponents.

Mentality

Here lies the rub. It’s known that his departure from the club owes quite a bit to his feud with current boss Georges Leekens and some of the coaches he has clashed with. Last week, Leekens said he didn’t want to work with players who wanted to leave with Vadis increasingly vocal of his desire to move to one of the bigger leagues in Europe as have lots of his Belgian team mates.

His earlier career at Brugge was perhaps unfulfilled due to his lack of professionalism which is fair enough given his age. He seems to have taken this on board though as he describes his preparation for last season….

“I told myself to put all side projects aside. I worked hard, and my focus was 100% on football. And it paid off. Physically, I feel better this season, I recover more quickly; feel less tired during games and training sessions. Maybe I was putting too much energy in the things that weren’t all that important. Because I had trouble handling criticism. Because I wasn’t entirely living for my career like I do now. The things I now handle differently are not earth shattering, you know. Just getting to bed on time or minding my diet more efficiently. I’ll never become thin, but I did work on my weight. The only think I gained was muscles. I have also read that many people, also close to me, reckon I have grown more mature this season. I guess that must be the right conclusion.”

Final Word

By the looks of it this is another decent piece of business by Moyes in terms of beefing up our midfield options, particularly in terms of the versatility Vadis has in being equally comfortable as the midfield enforcer as he is playing further up field.  For me he is a much better prospect than Nzonzi and has nearly 10 years on Essien so its potentially worked out very well for us. Ultimately if he turns out to be gash (which I doubt) we can always send him back like we did with Segundo.

EB

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