In Focus: Udinese adventure awaits Ireland prospect Ebosele
Derby starlet Festy Ebosele is heading to Serie A this summer — and he is also ready to make his mark on the international stage.
The 19-year-old ace has been called up to the senior Republic of Ireland team for the first time, having already secured a move to Italian top-flight outfit Udinese.
As Stephen Kenny's men prepare to face Armenia in Yerevan tonight, we take a look at what the talented right-back will offer Le Zebrette and the Boys in Green.
A fast start
When watching Ebosele in action, it is hard not to take notice of his searing pace.
That speed was a factor in the academy graduate catching Derby boss Wayne Rooney's eye last summer, earning a promotion to the first team from the Under-23s.
Despite having never made a senior start before 2021-22, Ebosele exploded onto the scene and went on to make 35 Championship appearances in his breakout campaign.
However, he was unable to help the Rams avoid relegation after they were deducted 21 points amid financial issues.
A deadly dribbler
Ebosele puts his pace to good use when running at defenders, combining it with impressive technique to make him an extremely effective dribbler.
The youngster constantly attempts and completes a high number of take-ons as he looks to isolate players in wide areas and drag his team up the pitch.
Beating opponents in one-on-one situations is clearly Ebosele's most refined skill — and it is a strength both Udinese and Ireland will be keen to make use of.
Suited to the system
Gabriele Cioffi typically set up Udinese with a back three last term, with Ebosele's skill set perfectly suiting the role of wing-back in that system.
The Irishman primarily played at right-back for Derby's youth teams but split his time between full-back and the right wing under Rooney in the Championship.
That blend of experience in both deeper and more advanced wide areas will benefit the Wexford native as he adapts to being Nahuel Molina's understudy — or even his replacement should the Argentine move on.
Cioffi will not be in charge of Le Zebrette next season after being relieved of his duties, though it seems likely his replacement will also favour width given the make-up of Udinese's squad.
Yet Republic of Ireland head coach Stephen Kenny believes Ebosele is best utilised further forward.
After naming his squad for this month's Nations League fixtures, the former Dundalk manager explained his thoughts on the rising star's best position and attributes.
He said: "I really see [Ebosele] as a right winger. I don't necessarily see him as a defender.
"Not every game he has played has been perfect, he's still learning, but his speed really frightens players."
Intriguingly, the possibility exists that Ebosele will remain in England, despite his free transfer to Udinese.
Both the Serie A side and Watford are owned by the Pozzo family — and the two clubs have frequently exchanged players.
If the Hornets had acquired Ebosele directly from Derby, they would have had to pay a fee decided by a tribunal.
But that rule does not apply to players joining foreign clubs, so Udinese's move for him could have been a means of circumventing that requirement.
Expect the hot prospect to be playing in Italy next season — but do not rule out the possibility of a move to Vicarage Road in the longer term.