Isaac Atanga has more than just the Right to Dream

At smarterscout we're big fans of Right to Dream, the pioneering football academy in Ghana. The academy prepares boys and girls not just to play in top leagues all over the world but also to pursue fulfilling lives off the pitch. Denmark's FC Nordsjaelland is part of the Right to Dream platform, giving the most promising academy players a chance to show their stuff in Europe. And that's where we come to Isaac Atanga.

The 19-year-old smarterscout young prospect is having a breakout season in the Superliga, with numbers that wouldn't look out of place in Europe's top five leagues. Just have a look at his stats at RW this season using a Premier League standard:

He's got very good attacking output, in large part thanks to a playing style and role that see him getting into the box regularly to shoot, though he also passes from just inside the right-hand edge of the area. He's sufficiently dangerous to have been involved in 57% of Nordsjaelland's goals while playing RW. Atanga's smartermap shows just how many touches he gets in the box, and also how unpredictable he can be when he's in the final third:

Atanga is also a fine defender, albeit not really dangerous in the air. And if we look for players with a similar style in the past few seasons of Europe's top five leagues (using our "Search by similar player" feature), we get quite a list:

Those are quite simply some of the most expensive forwards in the world. Kylian Mbappe playing RW in 2017-18 is actually quite a close match for Atanga's style, as you can see in this side-by-side comparison:

Interestingly, Atanga is rather more avid in terms of his overall defending than Mbappe or Maxwell Cornet, the next closest match. But there's also some concern here – in addition to getting into the box to shoot and doing a fair amount of link-up passing, the other attribute these players have in common stylistically is dribbling. And Atanga's skill in ground duels is nothing like that of Mbappe or Cornet, at least not yet.

That's probably one reason why Atanga hasn't attracted more attention so far. Yet with six goals and four assists in just over 1,500' at all positions, we think Atanga will soon be drawing the eyes of major European clubs. He'll follow in the footsteps of Right to Dream graduates like Majeed Waris, who's played in the top tiers of France, Portugal, Russia, and Turkey, and David Accam, one of the most exciting wingers in recent MLS history. And who knows – he may have the right to dream even bigger.

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