Celtic’s ‘extensive analysis’ on Ryan Mmaee beats the old ‘eye for a player’ approach

Celtic’s links with Ferecncvaros striker Ryan Mmaee seem at this stage to be little more than information on ‘extensive analysis’ being undertaken on the player, as Celtic at long last have a manager willing to embrace the clear benefits of data analysis, rather than solely the good old ‘eye for a player’ we may have adopted in the past.

But the links are out there in the public domain, so what do we know about the Moroccan international striker that appears to have attracted someone’s eye behind the scenes at Celtic?

Firstly, Celtic’s need for a striker is perhaps not acute, particularly with two now proven goalscorers in Kyogo and Giorgos Giakoumakis already rotating. As such if moves are made for a striker, then it may well be someone considered a back-up option. Yet to counter that there is little point in purchasing anyone simply to settle for third choice. Instead, you would hope that anyone being brought to the club is a player who can reasonably be expected to be a bona fide challenge to those we already have in place.

With that in mind Mmaee’s career to date had been slow to get going and didn’t immediately jump out as a stand-out performer. Indeed, the player now 24 may well be described as a slow burner in terms of career development, but he’s certainly picking up pace.

Mmaee came through at Belgian side Standard Liege, where he only made 13 appearances and scored only one goal. Predominately a striker, but also one who has played as a second striker and occasionally as a right winger, his goalscoring exploits for his first club were unremarkable, as was a loan spell with Waasland-Beveren where the net was against hit just once in 20 appearances, and at Danish side Aarhus GF where his goal return measured three goals in 12 appearances.

But that changed with a switch to Cypriot side AEL Limassol where Mmaee found his goalscoring boots. The striker netted 25 times in 58 appearances over two seasons for AEL, as well as seven assists. And at current club Ferencvaros, where he moved to last summer, that impressive goal return has been maintained as Mmaee has grabbed 19 goals in 37 games and his assist record is improving also, with 11 contributions for teammates.

All of this could point to a player who is building an upward career trajectory, but at the same time should also be tempered given both the Cypriot and Hungarian leagues are perhaps of a lesser standard than the competitions the player had previously performed in – but in truth it’s likely to be a bit of both.

One thing worth noting is Mmaee was a Belgian international, and a regular one at that, from Under 16 level right up to Under 21 level. He was a regular scorer at all levels, before deciding to represent Morocco at full international level -whom he qualified for through his mother – where the player has been capped 11 time and scored four goals. Once again, the figures show a steady progression for the player after a slow scoring start to his career.

In total his club career accounts for 51 goals and 21 assists from a total of 143 appearances across all competitions, and at only 24 there is a solid argument to be made that further improvement is likely.

Mmamee stand at just over 6ft, is predominately right footed, and despite occasionally being played behind a main striker and on the wing, he isn’t particularly versatile, and is certainly and out and out striker.

He is however a good ball carrier and has a strong dribbling ability. Alongside his eye for goal, he has a good turn of pace and can move direction when carrying the ball comfortably whilst maintaining a good understanding of where teammates and opponents are alike. And at Ferencvaros he has added European experience performing in both the Europa League and in Champions League qualifiers for the Hungarian Champions, meanwhile at international level experience has been gained in both World Cup qualifiers and in the African Cup of Nations.

There may be little substance in the link between Ryan Mmaee and Celtic at this stage, but it would appear to be one player Celtic have earmarked for analysis, and it has to be said there is a lot to like about the players attributes, and the fact he’s got his career moving in an upward direction after something of a slow start.

Mmaee also offers something different to Celtic’s striking option at present with that ball carrying ability something notably different from both Kyogo and Giakoumakis, and as such his acquisition would certainly add another layer to Celtic’s attacking options.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Celtic will move beyond scouting to genuine interest in the player, but if they do Mmaee could well be a useful addition to the squad and even one who could conceivably push for a place in the starting eleven.

Niall J

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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