Brentford has become one of the clubs that is annoyingly good when it comes to transfer deals.
Just 12 years ago, they found themselves moving from the fourth tier, to now proudly calling themselves a Premier League outfit.
Frank Onyeka in action against Ajax / ANP Sport / Getty Images
Of course, there have been several factors behind the bees’ growth, although their fantastic work in the transfer market has undoubtedly been the catalyst for their success.
The club recently announced the arrival of midfielder Frank Onyeka – followed by moans of “oh we should have signed him” from supporters of all other clubs in England, probably – but what can the bees expect from the 23-year-old?
First of all, it is important to note that the former club FC Midtjylland plays in a very similar form to Brentford – whether it is 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 – and despite the obvious challenges of moving to a another country entails, the transition between systems should hopefully not be too problematic.
Bee’s recruiting teams are known for their thorough use of football data when evaluating a player’s references – a topic deeply discussed by the club’s recruiting director Lee Dykes recently in an exclusive 90 – minute interview – and a brief check of Onyeka’s stats from last season will tell a lot about the midfielder.
No Midtjylland player committed more fouls than the Nigeria international in last season’s Danish Superliga, although he also made the most fouls of any of his sides, with his ability to run with the ball in pace an important aspect of his game.
It is fair to say that Onyeka is something of a versatile midfielder, who has both the noise and the physicality needed to sit in midfield and break up the game, while he can carry the ball from midfield and pull his side up on the pitch.
✍ We are pleased to confirm that midfielder Frank Onyeka has signed a five-year contract from FC Midtjylland
? https://t.co/oxSjwlJw14#OnyekaAnnoncerad pic.twitter.com/tzONkVct8n
– Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) July 20, 2021
Although he is a combative midfielder whose six-foot frame makes him a commanding presence in the middle of the field, an area in Onyeka’s game that needs to improve his course ability, although Brentford hope they prefer to get the ball on the floor and move forward in pace means it does not hold him back in the Premier League.
Speaking of Brentford’s style of play, so far we have focused almost exclusively on Onyeka’s physical strengths – but he is much more than just a striker from a midfielder.
The 23-year-old’s footwork in tight spaces is as good as you’ll see, and his ability to play one-and-two-touch football to keep the ball moving is perfect for Brentford’s current system.
Although Onyeka has the ability to drive forward with the ball at his feet, he sees more often than downloading to a teammate to give himself time to fight back into position. But given his pace and power, it would not be at all surprising to see Thomas Frank allow him more freedom to move through the thirds.
Thomas Frank seems to have gotten a real catch in Onyeka / Alex Pantling / Getty Images
One of the crucial aspects of Brentford’s campaign last season was their floating midfield, with no player limited to the role of “sitting midfielder” or “number ten”. Onyeka has all the attributes needed to fit into such a system.
If bees will avoid being drawn into a relegation scrap next season, they will need to add more bites and more endurance in midfield.
Having good footballers on your side is all well and good, but when you face teams with better footballers on their side – something that Brentford will experience on more than a few occasions next season – you need to level the playing field in other ways.
Onyeka not only has the footballing ability to play in Brentford’s midfield, he will also add a nastyness that the bees have lacked and he can prove to be a massive player for the club next season.