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Samuel Chukwueze: What to expect in 2021?

  • 27 November, 2020
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The exciting Villarreal winger needs more game time in the New Year after seemingly stagnating in 2020

It’s hard to disagree with anyone who reckons Samuel Chukwueze didn’t have the best 2020, due to a failure to kick on following that breakthrough campaign in 2018/19.

While this is not entirely his fault, the 21-year-old has undoubtedly fallen away in the last year, mostly due to a paucity of appearances at Villarreal.

The Nigeria winger averaged 66 minutes per game in that maiden season with the Yellow Submarine, before a drop to 55 minutes per match in the following year. Match action under Unai Emery this term is even lower, with the young attacker averaging only 43 minutes per game in La Liga so far.

While his stock may have fallen in the last 12 to 18 months, the wide forward interestingly leads the way for shot-creating actions per 90 and goal-creating actions per 90 in the Villarreal team this term, and he sits in third for key passes per 90.

Chukwueze began 2021 with an assist — his second in the league this season — to set up Gerard Moreno’s winning goal against Levante to end an unwanted run without a direct goal contribution since scoring against Real Valladolid on November 2.

At first sight, there’s an inclination to criticise the youngster for his paucity of goals or assists, before taking into account he’s started only six of the side’s 17 top flight games this season.

Getting consistency in performances is twice as difficult when you’re in and out of the XI, an upshot of Chukwueze’s situation under Emery. This has to change in 2021.

Chukwueze: The story of 2020

In fairness, it was quite an uneventful year for the 21-year-old, largely due to a shortage of ample game time in the second half of 19/20 and the start of 20/21.

The high point for Chukwueze probably came in that 2-0 success over Valladolid in early November, a match greatly significant for the West African as he ended a La Liga goal drought that was 22 days shy of 12 months.

In total, the wideman posted three goals and four assists in all competitions in the entire year, frankly underwhelming numbers but, perhaps, understandable due to the erratic nature of his appearances.

Chukwueze: Any transfer rumours?

None, and therein lies the problem.

The initial buzz generated by Chukwueze’s breakout campaign has died down significantly, with links to top sides in Europe now at a premium.

Chukwueze: One big hope for 2021

For the youngster to either somehow find himself in favour at Villarreal again or get a move elsewhere to continue a development that’s seemingly stalled in the last year or thereabouts due to insufficient minutes on the pitch.

If Chukwueze does stay, playing a part in the Yellow Submarine’s tussle to finish in the top four in La Liga and potentially win the Europa League will boost the winger’s fading profile once again.

Chukwueze: One big fear for 2021

The prospect of staying nothing but a bit-part player at Estadio de la Ceramica will worry the 21-year-old.

Not only will this further stall his growth as a player, but it’ll also make any potential switch away from the Spanish side harder than it ought to be, with potential buyers likely put off by his lack of proper minutes.


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