Stefan Vasilev provides a detailed scout report on Charlton’s highly rated defender, Ezri Konsa
Charlton Athletic are usually left out of the ‘clubs with best youth development’ sections of football books, but their latest youth development project might leave them hanging in the wrinkled notes of some budding writer.
The club has invested a lot its energy in nurturing its latest influx of talent from the academy and the youngsters look set to repay the trust given to them by helping the club either financially through transfers or by contributing to the club’s fight to get back into the Championship after a two-year absence.
One player that carries the high hopes of the club is 19-year-old alleged Liverpool and Everton target Ezri Konsa.
Who is Ezri Konsa?
Konsa is a recent Charlton academy graduate and one of their best rising talents. He joined the club at 12 years of age back in 2009 and climbed the ladder in leaps until he earned his first professional contract with the club in December 2015.
Charlton were in the midst of fighting a losing battle to keep their Championship place then, and as a consequence Konsa remained an overlooked substitute.
But with the pressure of the relegation battle gone, manager Russel Slade opted to place his trust in the 19-year-old for the new season.
The youngster did not disappoint, completing the season with 31 starts under his belt and another eight appearances from the bench. All the while he did it in a manner good enough to attract interest from top Premier League clubs as well as to keep his place during a year of three successive managerial changes at Charlton.
Konsa’s displays were such that they also earned him his first international call-up when England U20s manager Paul Simpson selected him for the U20 World Cup in March 2017. Konsa only featured once in the tournament, against Italy in the semi-final, missing the other games due to injury.
What is his Style of Play?
While Konsa is at the dawn of his football development, he’s not exactly a blank page of A4.
He has proven to be a hard worker and a quick study of the game.
Standing at six feet, he is not the tallest defender but has good physicality to his game to compensate for it. He deals with air balls well and has bags of stamina to keep up with the intensity of League One football. Konsa also possesses a lot of pace and good positional awareness, something that has been noticed by manager Karl Robinson who has played him as a right back and even as a central midfielder occasionally.
What are his Strengths?
If Konsa’s displays in his debut season were not the reason that grabbed the attention of the Premier League top clubs, then the labels given to him by his manager and other Charlton players might have done it. Robinson has branded Konsa a ‘great talent’ and ‘one of the best centre backs outside of top flight’ while Charlton goalkeeper Declan Rudd has compared him to Rio Ferdinand.
While the fast-approaching January transfer window might give us an alternative explanation to such comparisons, we would also be wrong to dismiss them entirely.
The one thing that stands out as Konsa’s main strength is his great physical shape. This gives him an excellent basis to apply his body in battles for control of the ball and to withstand the full intensity of League One, and perhaps Premier League, football.
Konsa is also a versatile player. Despite the lack of game time behind his back, he has done extremely well in new and relatively unfamiliar positions such as a right back and central midfielder. This is, in part, down to his mental strength. He has proven to be positive, ambitious and appreciative of the chances given to him.
What are his Weaknesses?
The teenager is still in the initial stages of his development as a footballer, so his lack of experience is perhaps his biggest weakness at this point in time. He needs at least several more seasons to hone his skills up to a Premier League standard. This, of course, is also dependent on his environment as his progress could be helped by the presence of Premier League quality around him.
While he already possesses good positional understanding, he could improve further with more minutes on the pitch and in-depth tactical education.
And lastly, Konsa is a player who is still young and is susceptible to experimentation over his style and positional play. This is by no means a negative thing but part of a learning curve. If he is to develop his potential to become a top-level defender, he would need the right guidance from coaches and mentors.