Club: Barnsley (Loan Orlando City)
Goals & Assists: ⚽️ 5 🎯 0
Barnsley have seen a remarkable turnaround this season, from surviving relegation due to Wigan’s points deduction to candidates for promotion to the English Premier League this term. Barnsley have the youngest squad in the Championship with average age at 23.5 as well as one of the smallest squads too.
Barnsley since February has been in sensational form which has seen them win 9 of their last 10 in the English Championship & sitting in the playoff position with Dike an integral part. Daryl Dike signed on loan in January for Barnsley from Orlando City with them securing an option to purchase for $20m in the summer. Since the signing of Dike, Barnsley have seen a run of 7 wins in a row with him scoring 3 vital goals in the process to help secure those victories.
Defensively Dike presses from the front to apply pressure on the opposition defence. Dike’s pressing style is to capitalise on a heavy touch from the opposition using his pace & strength to then in contact attempt to regain possession. His aggression & strength in contact is so that it can result in fouls as he exerts too much into the challenge forcing the player in possession off balance or to the ground. Ultimately, his aggressive pressing is used in an attempt to prevent the opposition from playing out from the back, to force the ball carrier to pass backwards or laterally.
When Dike gets his timing & aggression right in contact it is very difficult for the opposition player to fend off in the tackle resulting in a turnover of possession, mistake or forcing the ball backwards. Where he wins a good proportion of his turnovers is in the opposition half by pressing quickly & initiating contact as per the below example;
Against Birmingham (above) the defender makes the decision to wait for the ball to drop so that he can control & move forward with the ball. Dike anticipates the ball is not dropping into the defenders path quickly enough for them to get away & he accelerates towards the defender initiating contact. Once in contact Dike utilises his strength to overpower the defender stealing the ball away before advancing upfield & eventually doubled up on to cut off his attempt to deliver into the area.
Should Dike improve on his anticipation in defensive situations he will be able better placed to cut out passing lanes to intercept passes out from the defence. In addition, his tenacity is a positive in contact with the defender, but does need to improve on how he exerts his strength as the pressure borders uncontrolled resulting in needless fouls.
Hold Up Play
Dike operates as a modern target man looking to hold the central area pinning defenders whilst in contact & shielding the ball only to bring others into play. Dike also moves into the channels providing an option behind the defensive line, where should he be alone in the attack will slow down the pace of the attack, holding off the defender until support can get close.
As per the above example, Dike positions himself between the CB & FB before running into the channel behind the defensive line. Once behind he uses his body to get in between the defender & the ball to shield possession. Dike utilises his strength (below) to manage the defender & ball control to slow down the pace of the attack, which enables him the time to access his options. In contact Dike looks to connect with an onrushing teammate with short passes into their path to provide out wide opportunities to either commit the defender or deliver first time.
Another aspect of his hold up play is to draw contact from the opposition defence by backing into the opposition effectively pinning them & creating space for teammates to move into. When he gets into this position he has the ability to pass the ball back into midfield to recycle possession or attempt to pass the ball into open space to turn the defence towards goal. This approach is highlighted below where Dike holds the CB in contact shielding the ball & making it difficult for them to effectively challenge for possession. Dike demonstrates his awareness by noting there is space in behind the defence for his strike partner to run onto before flicking on the ball.
Even though in this situation against Birmingham results in the initial play being cut out by the covering defender (below), Dike anticipates where the ball will drop to gather the second ball & has the vision to pass through the press into his strike partner. Due to Dike’s presence he draws two opposition defenders out of position, which provides his teammate space in which to drive into with the ball creating a crossing opportunity.
There are many positives in Dike’s hold up play particularly in his ability to utilise strength to shield the ball & understanding the importance of body positioning. Where he does require improvements is in his close control as this can lead to him setting the ball out too far from his feet. The result of this is that he can lose the ball in contact & invite challenges from opposition defenders as he attempts to regain control of possession.
When dribbling with the ball Dike does well in shielding possession & is very difficult for the defender to outmuscle or tackle in a shoulder to shoulder situation. Whilst Dike has success dribbling with the ball this is still an area where he requires improvement as technically his ability isn’t as strong as other aspects of his game. Dike’s control in contact is good, but as he moves with the ball his close control can let him down particular when the ball is moved into his feet at pace. To compensate for Dike’s ability whilst dribbling his decision making in possession could improve his chances to provide a greater threat. The decision making aspects that could be improved upon is understanding when to hold possession & when to release, as he can run into 2v1 situations stifling the attack.
An example of how his ability can effect his & Barnsley’s ability to take advantage of fortuitous situations are as per the below. Dike shows good movement to move wide before making a run into the area which is seen by the wingback who plays him through. As the ball comes into Dike he has the positioning to prevent the defender from making an attempt for the ball, but his touch is heavy when taking the ball into his stride. Ultimately this heavy touch leads to the ball harmlessly running out of play & the opportunity being lost.
Barnsley play a direct style of buildup targeting Dike with a long pass or look to counter quickly transitioning into attack exploiting spaces left by the attacking team. Due to the tactical approach of Barnsley to be more direct Dike’s lack of accuracy in his passing doesn’t hinder them too much when attacking. Where he does well is linking the play with the midfield passing backwards to recycle possession but this drops with his lateral & forward passing.
An example where he needs to improve is as per the above where Dike collects the ball in a 2v1 situation against Bournemouth. Dike draws in the CB releasing his strike partner to burst into the space vacated by the CB engaging in the press & the FB caught out of position. Dike slides the ball into the path of the attacker with the defender following the ball, but with the pass under hit (below) the defender is able to sprint across to make a recovery tackle. Should Dike improve his technique to provide the greater care in his passing weight he’ll create more opportunities for his teammate. Not only would this improve his chances to provide scoring chances for his teammates but would move the opposition defence out of position, thus enabling others spaces to exploit.
Dike when passing also needs to improve on when to release the ball as his decision making as his weight pass can cause lost opportunities. A prime example can be found in the below where Dike does well to find space between the lines & has his strike partner moving into a wider position to give the defender a choice. The defender decides not to split the defence by following the attacker & decides to engage Dike instead taking a calculated risk. Dike rather than moving the ball quickly into the channel to exploit the space his teammate had moved into for a clear run in on goal, failed to make the pass & delayed holding possession. The result of holding onto the ball lead to Dike closing the space between him & the CB losing possession in a strong tackle loosing the opportunity.
When Dike is given the support he has the ability & vision to create opportunities as per the below the front 3 create a tight triangle flanking Dike. As the play moves forward Dike uses their movement to draw the defenders back as he progresses.
Their movement in turn provides Dike the opportunity to drive into the space on the edge of the area holding up play long enough to receive additional support out wide. Once Dike gets the support he places a well timed & weighted pass into the path of the wingback who delivers across the face of the 6 yard area. Unfortunately, for Barnsley Dike’s strike partners were unable to anticipate the placement of the delivery to capitalise on the attack.
Dike has been demonstrating great composure & technique when in shooting opportunities for Barnsley. His movement has also been smart dropping off his marker to find space or moving into the wide positions exploiting space vacated by the attacking FB.
As per the above against Birmingham he demonstrates his smart movement moving wide of the CB moving onto his shoulder. Dike is found with the ball first moving centrally, before directly at the back line with them slow to move over or press before Dike drives wide of the area & unleashes a fierce drive. Dike’s strike showed not only the power he is able to generate but his ability technically to strike the ball cleanly.
Another example of Dike’s movement can be found in his 2nd goal against Wycombe Wanders. Initially the ball is played into the central area to Dike’s feet with the CB intercepting the pass but Barnsley are able to regain possession & recycle the ball into the channel. As the wingback commits the FB Dike takes the CB in the direction of the ball, before he drops his shoulder & moves in behind the CB. At this point Dike has the advantage over the CB as he can no longer match any movement by Dike with him able to position himself into a position free of any marker. As the ball is delivered into the area he shows good anticipation & technique firstly to judge the flight of the ball & secondly to control his volley whilst sliding in to make contact.
Dike has been clinical for Barnsley with him overachieving in front of goal as he uses his movement & strength to create the opportunities demonstrating composure when opportunities arise.
Dike is a very interesting prospect that could been a top level performer & shares many similarities with Romelu Lukaku of Inter. His strength & pace are a real asset which make him suited to the English leagues & due to his form at Barnsley has reportedly seen Premier League clubs looking to circumvent the agreement in place as part of the loan deal. Dike’s composure plus movement in attacking situations will suit a team which play a lone CF setup as offers both link play & options in behind.
There are aspects of his play that need to improve such as his passing & dribbling but as a target man his key attributes at this point are his aerial ability, strength in hold play & linking with teammates. To move onto the next level Dike will need to improve on his ability with the ball at his feet, as this will help to create opportunities for himself & cause issues for the opposing team. In addition to improving his technical ability whilst dribbling his passing along with the decision making process will need to improve should he move into the Premier League. All in all Dike would be a good addition for an EPL club looking to develop a top level prospect for a relatively inexpensive price, who could develop into a top level performer.