Manchester City's Abdul Razak: The New Michael Essien

Last night's Carling Cup clash between Manchester City and Wolves gave Mancini an opportunity to assess his 18 year old midfielder Abdul Razak - whose size, mobility and of course nationality have led to comparisons with the Chelsea enforcer.
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Last night's Carling Cup clash between Manchester City and Wolves gave Mancini an opportunity to assess his 18 year old midfielder Abdul Razak - whose size, mobility and of course nationality have led to comparisons with the Chelsea enforcer.

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It’s always unfair to judge a player on one or two games – especially when he’s just a lad of 18 years of age who is attempting to make any impact in a side amongst such established, experienced personnel. But hell such is the nature of scouting reports.

Here we look at an immensely promising young midfielder in the Man City ranks who, prior to last night’s 85 minutes against Wolves, had only racked up a half of a Carling Cup game plus two late league substitute appearances.

Who is he?

Abdul Razak is a young Ivorian who joined City under a cloud from Crystal Palace – a drawn-out immigration issue that wasn’t resolved until March of this year. Neil Warnock, the Eagles gaffer at the time, described him as the best player he’s ever seen in his age group. Since then Razak has come on leaps and bounds at Carrington and has even already broken into the first team. Mancini evidently rates him highly and his ability and playing style has even prompted premature comparisons to Michael Essien. He is a combative midfielder blessed with tremendous technical ability and has the box-to-box athleticism that Bobby Manc favours.

His contract expires next year and, with rumours that Liverpool are sniffing around, it is imperative for City’s intention to bring through their academy talent and integrate them into the first team that he is quickly tied down to a long-term deal.

His mobility and physique certainly lend themselves to the Essien comparisons

How did he fare?

Considering this was his first ever start - against a Wolves side who came out firing from the opening whistle until they were tamed by City’s goal-fest - this was an impressive debut.

Abdul imposed himself well in the centre of midfield, mentored throughout by Nigel De Jong, and noticeably gained confidence as the game progressed. His pass completion rate of 36/42 looks decent at first glance but it must be said that the ones that went awry were pretty glaring; whether they were lapses in concentration or a lack of awareness remains to be seen.

He shielded the ball superbly and his movement off the ball was highly competent, instinctively knowing when to leave his man and when to track him into wide areas.

Doubts persist over his decision making when in possession – on a couple of occasions he drove forward imperiously then visibly looked unsure of his options once he reached the final third.

Until he's settled and feels fully part of the first team set-up, I'd like to see him concentrate on the simple things. Head up, knock the ball on and be the link man. In this regard there is no better tutor than the man beside him last night in De Jong though ironically it was the Dutchman who arguably had the poorer game.

Verdict

His mobility and physique certainly lend themselves to the Essien comparisons and it was extremely encouraging to see such a young, inexperienced player impose himself so well into a game that had a frenetic opening twenty minutes. Once things started to quieten down however as City took control Abdul’s current limitations showed through as he struggled a little with the one-touch possession and displayed a slight lack of vision. That aside however he is undoubtedly a genuine prospect and City will be extremely keen to secure his services for years to come as he develops into a player of potentially outstanding pedigree.

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