Ademola Lookman

How Ademola Lookman became one of Serie A's smartest stars

  • The Nigeria international winger joined Atalanta Bergamo from Bundesliga campaigners, RB Leipzig in the summer

Ademola Lookman may not be as flashy as Napoli playmaker, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia or as highly rated as AS Roma's Paolo Dybala. Still, stats show that the Nigerian winger is one of the most intelligent attackers in the Italian Serie A.

Atalanta knew what they would get from Lookman when they paid Leipzig €9 million for the forward in August: a player who dribbles often, finishes smartly, and is adept at delivering good crosses and quality through balls.

But after only three months in Bergamo, Lookman has already displayed everything expected of him and much more.

So much so that Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini, a tactician known to be stingy with words praising players, has confessed that Lookman is the complete package.

Of the Nigerian international, Gasperini said, "Lookman is an offensive reference; he is giving us a lot. I didn't expect such a start (from him).

"Lookman is what you call a player. He always knows what to do, he moves well, he is fast, he has technique."

But what has made Lookman the darling of Atalanta's manager, fans, and Serie A neutrals?

The number one factor is Lookman's goals.
Lookman found the back of the net at the weekend in Atalanta's 2-0 defeat of Empoli to make it five league goals in just over 670 minutes of action in Italy.

Crucially, all his goals have been important for Atalanta.

The Super Eagles winger's goals against Sampdoria (on his debut) and Empoli were the second goals that secured the advantage for his side.

Even more importantly, Lookman's efforts were the winning goals against Fiortentina (1-0) and Sassuolo (2-1), while he netted the opening goal in the 2-2 draw with Udinese Calcio.

Four of those goals, all scored in October, have arrived in his last five games for the Blue-and-Black.

The 25-year-old attacker's goals have not been a product of good luck but from an intelligent player who is effective with the ball at his feet.

Lookman is the player with the highest xG per shot attempted among those who try more than two every ninety minutes in Serie A.

At 28 per cent, the Nigerian winger is the striker with the best conversion rate in the Italian elite division, confirming his ability to take the best possible shot in any situation.

Another factor that has caught the eye about Lookman is his assists. The 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup winner has notched three so far.

Lookman supplied both goals in the 2-0 triumph over Monza, adding to the one he claimed in the 3-1 win over Torino in September.

A fantastic attacking outlet, Lookman stands out among the best goal-creators in Italy. The former Everton ace ranks fifth for xG per created chances in Serie A - only behind talented playmakers such as Lazio's Milinkovic-Savic, Udinese's Deulofeu, Napoli's Kvaratskhelia and Roma's Dybala.

Lookman also sits in the fifth position for number of successful dribbles in Serie A. Among his contemporaries, however, he boasts the highest percentage, enjoying 15% more successful dribbles than Kvaratskhelia.

It has been a brilliant first three months in Italy for Lookman. Still, everything points in the direction that there is more to come from the smart Super Eagles winger.

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