At the end of this season’s Ligue 1, Lille narrowly missed out on this season’s Champions League by one point. They were in fourth place, behind Rennes, who occupied the last Champions League spot.
The pandemic and the French authorities’ decision to cancel all sporting activities seemed like a cruel twist of fate for Christophe Galtier’s men. With no Champions League football, Lille would once again have to sell their best player. Their star striker, Victor Osimhen, joined Napoli in a €50 million deal. However, it seems they have replaced Osimehn already, with highly-rated Canadian star Jonathan David.
How Jonathan David Will Help Lille
Lille With Osimhen
Lille lined up predominantly in a 4-2-3-1 formation last season, with Osimhen as the lone striker. Otherwise, they were sometimes in a 4-4-2 with Osimhen alongside Jonathan Ikone up front. Galtier utilised Osimhen’s unique ability to be a target man and his ability to run in behind to devastating effect.
In either formation, Osimhen drifted out wide and stuck on to the full-back. With long balls into him and the channels, Osimhen used his 6’1” frame to dominate the full-back physically. He got in behind the defence and either played in his teammates or put his deadly finishing to good use.
All of this resulted in Osimhen scoring 18 goals and providing six assists in this short season. This led to him being named Lille’s Player of the Year. With a mix of deadly finishing and excellent link-up play, it would be hard to replace the exceptional Nigerian. Nevertheless, in Jonathan David, Lille has the man to do so.
Jonathan David Has Great Technical Ability
David is only 20-years-old and was a highly-coveted player. For Lille to obtain him is a coup in itself. The Canadian scored 23 goals last season for Gent in Belgium’s first division, and he provided ten assists as well. David possesses Osimhen’s unique knack of scoring from acute angles, with his laser-like finishing, impressive shot power and ability to shoot with both feet.
However, the main thing which Galtier will be most keen to work with is David’s technical ability, and vision to set teammates up.
Replacing Osimhen’s ability to dominate full-backs will prove impossible for David as he stands at 5’8” compared to Osimhen’s 6’1”. However, with his passing ability and searing pace, he will be able to do an incredible amount of damage.
David’s ability to drop deep and combine with midfielders is mightily impressive for someone of his age. His ability to pick the ball up in midfield and play through others beyond him would make you think he was a number ten, not a striker. This is one part of his game which is better than Osimhen’s and can provide a new dimension to Lille’s attack. The likes of Jonathan Ikone and Loic Remy will benefit heavily from David’s passing ability, with their runs in behind.
David’s ability to drop in deep will also allow Lille to dominate possession for longer periods of time. This is because the options for the man on the ball would increase, with him dropping into the number ten position. This will be more favourable for them, as Lille have several technicians in their team, Renato Sanches and Boubakary Soumare being the standout players.
These two will, more often than not, play the ball to David when he is in an excellent position to receive it. This means he can turn and cause damage to opposing defences in a number of ways.
As previously mentioned, David is not blessed with Osimhen’s height, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in speed. With his 5’8” frame and a low centre of gravity, David’s dribbling ability is of a high level. This combined with his searing pace makes him almost impossible to tackle when he is in full flight. The long balls to Osimhen directly will now have to change to more balls in behind defences. With Sanches and Soumare in behind him, David will be sure to get many chances in the following season.
Besides how he will help Lille with his movement and technical ability, David will also need to replace Osimhen’s goal tally. He has scored 23 times this season, and being in an attack focused Lille team will help him replicate this in France. He is ice cold one-v-one with the goalkeeper, and his movement off the ball means he always finds space in the box. Even when crowded out, his quick feet and ability to remain calm in tight situations means that he can create space for his own shot. With Ikone and Jonathan Bamba alongside him feeding him chances, he will likely score a host of goals for Lille.
All in all, Lille have struck gold with Jonathan David. The only thing potentially stopping him from succeeding would be injuries. He has all the tools at his disposal to make a huge impact at the French club, and the fact that he is moving from one attack-minded team to another will make the transition easier. David’s impact may be so big that he may even command a larger fee than Osimhen when he is sold on. With him, they have not just replaced Osimhen, but they have upgraded. This upgrade will definitely help them on their quest for Champions League qualification for next season.
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