A successful first-season in French football has set up Terem Moffi to succeed in his second year as well. We take a look at what makes him a super Super Eagle.
Terem Moffi began the 2021/22 Ligue 1 season as he ended his previous campaign, by putting the ball in the back of the net.
He did that 14 times in Ligue 1 last season. Assisted a further three goals as well. The Nigerian’s first year in France was, safe to say, a good one. Without his goals, it is difficult to imagine that Lorient would have stayed up.
Despite being only 22 years of age, Moffi’s young career has seen a lot of change.
Taking the brave step to move to Lithuania to begin his professional career, Moffi then moved to Belgium after being picked up by KV Kortrijk. After a brief spell with the Belgian outfit, he was signed by Lorient. A career path not too dissimilar from his compatriot, Victor Osimhen.
It is a career that he certainly takes inspiration from. We try to analyze what made his debut season in French football enjoyable to watch.
Delivering the goals
Moffi is no stranger to carrying the burden of his team’s need for goals. He has done it time and again throughout his career.
For his club, Riteriai, in Lithuania, Moffi scored 20 goals from chances worth a total xG of 20.4.
It is perhaps those numbers, amongst others, that impressed his future employer the most. At Kortrijk, in his limited game time, he managed to do enough to catch the eye.
Scoring four goals in 461 minutes played overall in the Belgian first division, before moving to France.
Since then, Moffi has moved to Lorient and things are looking up for him.
Last season, Moffi’s non-penalty xG tally alone accounted for 28% of Lorient’s overall tally(41.6).
What’s interesting and worth noting from the above shot-map is that a lot of Moffi’s shots came from within the goal-mouth. Fortunately, he was able to score most of his high-value chances as well.
Multiple approaches in attack
There is a lot to like about the way Moffi takes his chances as well. He is usually able to find himself on the end of crosses when Lorient are in possession high up the pitch. Alternatively, he is just as capable of exploiting spaces behind the opposition defence during offensive transitions.
Whether it is driving into the space between the centre backs or dragging them towards areas where they aren’t comfortable defending, Moffi is able to do both reasonably well.
Another key aspect of Moffi’s approach to attack is that he is always lurking in anticipation of an error from the opposition. Averaging 0.52 interceptions per90, he is ready to pounce on the slightest of errors. As Ligue 1 teams found out last season.
Moffi is predominantly a left-footed striker and has cited Robin van Persie as an inspiration in the past. He told Ouest France, “I grew up watching Jay-Jay Okocha, Obafemi Martins, Nwankwo Kanu, and then Victor Osimhen. I watched the last play a lot, and then we played together, and he’s a real model for me. I’m also a big fan of Robin Van Persie. He was the best for me.”
Playing on the shoulder of the opposition’s defender, Moffi is able to use his acceleration to speed away from their clutches. This has proven useful for Lorient on countless occasions where Moffi has always been available to latch onto the out ball from midfield or defence.
Strong underlying numbers for Moffi
Moffi’s 20/21 was further underlined by his excellent underlying numbers.
In terms of non-penalty expected goals, he was one of the league’s best.
With 0.51 npxG per90, Moffi’s numbers were right up there with some of Ligue 1′ best forwards.
When compared with forwards from Europe’s Top Five Leagues for this metric, Moffi was in the top 19% last season. However, to simply label him as a goalscorer would be an unfair thing to do.
Whilst Moffi may not be a creative link-up player, he does show up nicely in terms of his chance creation numbers. For Lorient last season, there were games where Moffi was deployed as the lone striker in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1.
This meant that he had to act as the focal point and bring the likes of Wissa and Lauriente into play. Taking advantage of their advancing runs and feeding them with passes.
Moffi’s technique when delivering the final pass or taking the penultimate shot is sound and often pleasing to the eye. He often seems as though he is almost passing the ball past the keeper in 1v1 situations using his left foot to open up the angle to take his shot.
In terms of Expected Assists, Moffi is better than the average forward and with 0.16 xA per90, finds himself in the 69th percentile amongst Top Five Leagues forwards.
Further, he also averages 2.57 Shot Creating Actions per90, according to football reference.
Room for improvement
At 22, Moffi still has a lot of learning to do as a forward. Modern-day forwards are expected to be well-suited to a number of different requirements and Moffi won’t be any different.
Given that Lorient averaged only about 44% possession of the ball last season, any future team would have to consider if playing in a ball-dominant side would affect his output. Moffi’s in-possession game still has to improve significantly.
Aside from slight concerns about scaling his talents from Lorient to a better team, there is no doubt that Moffi would be a great transfer pick in future windows.
There are no glaring deficiencies in his game and at 22, he may yet get the chance to catch up to his mate Osimhen in the Serie A at some point.
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