In Focus: Kudus shining bright for Black Stars
Mohammed Kudus has been one of the standout talents of the World Cup in Qatar.
His displays for Ghana will not have come as a surprise to anyone that has followed his progress at Ajax, with the 22-year-old also having something of a breakout Eredivisie campaign.
Impressing for club and country, Kudus has become one of the most sought-after attackers in football.
As the Black Stars look to book their place in the last-16 of the tournament in a crunch clash with Uruguay, we put their gifted starlet under the spotlight.
World Cup versatility
The performances of Kudus in Ghana’s first two World Cup games have been perfect examples of just how versatile he is.
In the 3-2 defeat to Portugal, he was employed in a central midfield position and provided a dangerous ball into the six-yard box which Andre Ayew was able to stab home.
Then in the victory over South Korea, Kudus was used on the right of Ghana’s attack as manager Otto Addo switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation and scored twice.
He first put his side 2-0 up with a deft header and then, after the Koreans had fought back to equalise, restored the lead with a calm left-footed finish.
Those goals took his tally at international level to seven in 20 appearances, which suggests that as good as Kudus is in a deeper position, his future with Ghana is likely to be further forward.
Ajax head coach Alfred Schreuder certainly seems to think that the talents of Kudus are best used in attacking areas.
After two injury-hit seasons under former boss Erik ten Hag, Schreuder has been playing him as a false nine and he has responded with 10 goals in 21 appearances.
Four of those have come from six Champions League games. In particular, his strike against Liverpool at Anfield stood out, with Kudus producing an explosive finish that ricocheted in off the bar.
The rising star is no stranger to this role, having played there in his final season at the Danish club Nordsjaelland, which saw him score 11 Superliga goals and attract the attention of the Dutch giants.
Yet the 5ft 9in player is said to prefer playing in midfield, with his childhood idol being Thiago Alcantara.
Europe’s biggest clubs do not seem put off by the debate over his positional future.
Before transforming his options with his performances for club and country, Kudus came close to making a summer transfer to Everton, even refusing to train to try and force through a move.
With no disrespect to the Merseysiders, it would appear that any chance that they had of signing him has come and gone.
Just about every major Premier League club have been linked with a move for Kudus since the World Cup started.
So too have the cream of Europe. With Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid all said to be monitoring the player, Kudus truly has the world at his feet.
The fact that Kudus has already proved his ability to play in deep or attacking midfield roles, along with on the wing and as a striker just makes an eventual transfer more inevitable.
His many talents mean that any suitors do not have to worry too much about where they will utilise him, as he can seemingly play anywhere.
The player himself is likely to be more discerning and choose a club where he will be used in a settled role, rather than as a solution to multiple problems.
Ajax have a rich history of using creative midfielders as a No9 and it makes sense for Ghana to use him in a position where he can provide a cutting edge.
With his finishing ability, pace, skill and strength, Kudus has everything needed to be a top forward but his ability off the ball, both going forward and back, are also perfect for a midfielder.
For all the speculation regarding where Kudus will end up playing, it appears certain that it will be at an extremely high level.