Opinion

Manchester United striker transfer scout: Jonathan David

MUSC Red Devils NCR
Jonathan David has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United
Jonathan David has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United / DENIS CHARLET/GettyImages
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Welcome to Manchester United Striker Scout, where we will be having a look at the top striking targets that have been linked with the Red Devils, their pros, cons, individual abilities and how do they align with the club if we do decide to make a move for them.

In case you missed our first scout report on Darwin Nunez, please click here.

Without further ado, let's dive into our next striker target in Jonathan David:

Over the years, Canada has produced some really eye-catching football talent. Stars that have gone on to create a name for themselves on the global stage. While Alphonso Davies is clearly the pick of the bunch, one name who is not far off and is really making a strong case for himself with his brilliant performances this season is Lille striker Jonathan David.

Ever since he has burst onto the European stage as a teenager for Belgian football club Gent, he has not looked back, improving season after season and subsequently being rewarded with a move to French giants Lille. Over there he was instrumental in the title-winning campaign for the side in his first season for the club. Playing alongside the ageless Burak Yilmaz, David scored 13 times and had two assists in a season for the ages that will be remembered by Lille for years to come. 

However, when a team like Lille makes waves on a European scale, it is bound to have repercussions. Just months after ending the PSG dominance, followed a huge exodus leading to the departure of several high-profile stars such as Boubakary Soumare, Mike Maignan, Luis Araujo, and in a body blow, their manager Christophe Galtier, this season Lille have been below average, but in the midst of all this upheaval, David still continues to make headlines after a breakthrough season so far in which he has already scored 15 times in all competitions, three of those in the Champions league, instrumental in guiding the French side to the knockout stages of the competition.

While at Gent, he was deployed as an attacking midfielder, but at Lille he plays just behind the striker as a second striker. The similarity in roles across both teams is one of the major reasons for his smooth transition from one league to another. 

Over the years in Europe, David has been able to mature and refine his game in double-quick time and has some really great qualities that make him a match-winner in his own right. One of the primary skills of his being his ability to attack the space. This is a very interesting trait because even though the majority of his playing time at Lille has seen him play as a second striker, there are times that he takes this responsibility and manages to create his own space.

His impeccable reading of the game allows him to spot gaps in a defense that is unorganized, which enables him to attack that space almost instantaneously. One of the biggest things that set him apart is he always moves into those spaces by attacking the blindside of the nearby defender, enabling him to always stay one step ahead of the opponent. This gives him an added advantage in the situations that he is marked very tightly by opposition defenders. 

Another aspect of David's game that defines him is his unpredictability. As mentioned above that he is adept at attacking the spaces, this also works to his advantage as it creates a shroud of uncertainty in the mind of the defender as to what will his next move be. David quickly changes direction by using fake runs which creates space for him to attack at. He sometimes runs along with the defender, giving him the impression that he has everything under control. And just when the defender falls to it, bam! he changes his direction, making a mockery of the defender and leaving him for dead.

The Canadian is an absolute tyro, with his speed and acceleration bordering on insanely quick. His speed is the difference between a meandering move and a devastating sucker punch. Being one of the fastest in his side, he is the primary man for Lille whenever they spring counter-attacks. David is almost certain to be the furthest man upfield whenever there is a chance to counter, ready to move at once the moment they sense an opportunity.

He always stands in a way that the first pass to him comes in a place that can cause the most damage to opponents on the counter since that is an integral part of counter-attacks to be a success. The 22-year-old uses his speed to great effect on the moments he has the ball as well, with his acceleration helping him get the better of defenders in one-on-one situations. 

One of his key attributes in the game is his unbelievable levels of anticipation. He is absurdly spontaneous when it comes to his reflexes and anticipation, which explains why most of his goals have come after winning the second ball.

In a fixture against Reims, while most of his teammates tracked back immediately after a shot was taken, David was the only one who sprinted behind the ball expecting a rebound. The fact that this instance happened deep into extra time at the end of the game, speaks levels about his alertness to in-game situations and his willingness to anticipate it and make the most out of those situations. 

His finishing is also one of his qualities that have drastically improved. For someone who has only 3.68 touches in the penalty area per 90, and a shot ratio of 1.80 per 90 mins, the Canadian's shot accuracy of 63.46% is among the best in Ligue 1 for players who have played more than 700 minutes, which is a good indicator of his finishing chances that he's presented with. 

Despite such big positives, there are still a few things in his armor that he will have to work on. While there is no doubt in his quality as a goalscorer, for one, he is yet to improve on his ability to take on defenders. While there is no question of his dribbling ability, his 0.8 dribbles per 90 is something that he will have to work on improving in the later stages of this season.

David also happens to be below average in winning aerial duels in the final third, with a success rate of 31.47% of offensive duels won. In spite of being a reliable passer, he is less likely to create a lot of chances, as his rate of assists suggests: two last season and none so far.

At the end of all, Jonathan David is someone who can hit the ground running almost immediately. He has a lot of qualities that are a readymade fit with the Red Devils. His movement is synonymous with our "work the space" approach of attacking and his speed gives us an added body for devastating counters, which is one of our biggest strengths, and his anticipation is perfect for a side like us who are often found lacking in winning the second ball.

All in all, Jonathan David is a great option to look for, however as a backup and not our primary option for a striker.


Written by: Delwyn Serrao

Instagram: delwyn_reddevil

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