In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Lillestrøm’s 22-year-old forward Akor Adams

One of the most eye-catching new additions to the Eliteserien this season has been Lillestrøm striker Akor Adams.

The Nigerian attacker joined OBOS Ligaen Sogndal from the Jamba Football Academy but didn’t properly breakthrough until the 2021 season when he scored 10 goals in 26 appearances. He played mostly as a striker or on the right wing in the 2nd tier of Norwegian football. Many players down the years have scored plenty of goals at OBOS level but moving up to the top division can yield mixed results.

Lillestrøm signed him ahead of the 2022 campaign. He came with obvious potential but was never earmarked to be an instant first-choice starter. Hólmbert Fridjónsson was also signed upfront, and the ex-Brescia & Celtic man certainly arrived with more pedigree. In pre-season, Adams was involved in many chances, and it was clear he would contribute quite significantly. He came off the bench in his first Eliteserien match and it was obvious he would immediately make a difference.

Adams and Fridjónsson are battling for the same position in Lillestrøm’s 3-4-2-1 system and have never yet been on the field together at the same time in a league match. Adams has only played the full 90 mins once so far this season and scored within 10 mins of making his debut, helping Lillestrøm come from 0-2 down to draw 2-2 with Ham Kam. He has scored four goals, supplied one assist, and completed 685 Eliteserien minutes compared to Fridjónsson’s 250. It is surprising he has managed to oust the more established striker for significantly more game time, but it just shows how impressive the Nigerian has been and the potential he has.

Adams is a strong physical specimen and is the cross between a target man and an advanced forward. At 1.90 meters tall his sheer height can make him an ideal focal point. Two of his four league goals so far have been from his head which is no real surprise. He has a great ability to hold off his man but also has decent acceleration and pace. His physical attributes certainly aid his cause, but this is also a technically astute player who can dribble well. Adams has a good first touch which sets him up for runs at the defense. His positioning and off-the-ball movement is also a major strength.

The Lillestrøm striker has attempted 29 shots this season at an average of 3.81 per game. He ranks #1 in this category compared to similar players in the Eliteserien. Adams has converted four of those attempts into goals, at an xG of 2.96. His strategy is very much a ‘scattergun approach’ whereby if you don’t shoot you don’t score. Somewhat impressively, nearly 45% of his attempts are on target though, which ranks him inside the top 15 for any player in the league. A lot of his shots do have a low xG but it is very encouraging that he is finding the target so regularly.

When he is on the field a big part of the Lillestrøm strategy this season has been to get the ball to him as quickly as possible. Per 90 mins he averages 3.02 long passes received, which ranks him 6th compared to other strikers in the Eliteserien. This is an effective strategy because he can use his strong physique and first touch to get the team into an advantageous position.

Adams averages 12.48 offensive duels per 90 mins and will happily get stuck in, winning nearly 35% of those battles. One of his big traits is to receive the ball in the final third, dribble towards goal and then fire in a shot. He ranks 9th out of any player for touches in the penalty area per 90 mins (5.52).

Lillestrøm strategy looking for Adams with a long pass
Good positioning and target man technique by Adams looking to control the ball and turn
Adams’ strength and skill hold off and beats two defenders, leading to acceleration and dribble in a dangerous position

The future for Akor Adams is surely a bright one. He is still only 22 years old and has a lot of time on his side. He is a very similar type of player to Fred Friday, another Nigerian who also once played for Lillestrøm several years ago. Friday ended up moving to AZ Alkmaar for £1.35m but the move didn’t really work out and he is now back in Norway playing his trade at Strømsgodset. Adams first needs to establish himself as the undisputable number one striker at the club, although not playing the full 90 mins or being used as an impact substitute can sometimes have its benefits.

Adams can work on some technical traits such as crossing and ball distribution. He could also look to improve the mental side of his game such as composure and decisions. It still feels like he is a bit raw in this area. His scattergun approach to shooting has worked, but if he became more effective with decision making and final end product he could move to a higher level of ability. It has been a very positive start to life at Eliteserien level for the Nigerian. He knows plenty of eyes are now on him and it will be interesting to watch the progression of this very talented striker as the year progresses.

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