Academy Analysis: Dan N’Lundulu
Southampton’s Under-23 side completed a dramatic comeback against Manchester City on Sunday, as a late Dan N’Lundulu brace secured a 4-3 win away from home.
Twitter: 4 goals
A successful day in #PL2 for #SaintsFCU23s!
https://t.co/8hmjOXc98Q https://t.co/BH1joMOJZD (@SouthamptonFC)
Jayden Braaf netted a brace and Morgan Rogers also found the net for the hosts, but their efforts proved to be insufficient. Kornelius Hansen got Saints’ first of the afternoon, while Thomas O’Connor scored to finely poise the match at 3-2 to City with only five minutes of normal time remaining.
After a scramble in the box, N’Lundulu was able to tap home an equaliser in the 87th minute before unleashing an incredibly well-taken curling effort into the top corner in the third minute of stoppage time.
Twitter: What a way to seal it!
Here’s the moment Dan N’Lundulu completed the turnaround for #SaintsFC’s youngsters: https://t.co/0heVwwt5Rh (@SouthamptonFC)
As N’Lundulu confidently put it to the club’s official website after the game…
Things in life just happen. Harlem [Hale] set it back, and I don’t know what went through my head. I thought, ‘you know what, yeah? Last minute, put it bins.’
Saints won 4-3, and this owed to a showing that consisted of intensity, attacking intent and a moment of real quality in the dying moments.
So, just who is Dan N’Lundulu, and what does he have to offer? Let’s take a look at the exciting Southampton youngster.
For many years now, N’Lundulu has been tipped for big things at the club. Having emerged as an impressive player for the England Under-16 team, plenty was expected of him as he continued to shine in Saints’ academy ranks.
He accompanied fellow Southampton youngster Callum Slattery in the national team’s youth setup and was thought to be one for the future. However, a succession of injury blows throughout the years hampered his chances of progressing beyond the Under-23 side, and as such, his development has been somewhat hindered.
Nevertheless, it seems N’Lundulu has put his setbacks behind him and is pushing ahead to enjoy a strong campaign in Southampton colours, evidenced by his exceptional showing against Manchester City’s Under-23 team.
The 20-year-old was, in fact, a part of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squads that travelled to Austria and Macau during the recent pre-season, indicating that the first-team boss has been left impressed by the efforts of the promising forward at youth level.
Stylistically, N’Lundulu is well-rounded. He is capable of involving himself in build-up play with deft touches and quick passes to his teammates but also thrives with runs in behind defences. He stretches opposition back-lines with his movement and dynamism and makes intelligent runs into space.
What is most impressive about the former Chelsea youngster, however, is his positioning. He finds dangerous areas with consummate ease and has developed a reputation for being an adept poacher. N’Lundulu is good at being in the right place at the right time and thrives when balls are played to him in the midst of disorganised defences.
This trait in his game was displayed only on Sunday, too, as his equaliser came as a product of him creating time and space in a congested area to pounce on the chance to score.
Twitter: Here’s the moment Dan N’Lundulu fired #SaintsFC’s youngsters level against #MCFC! https://t.co/v7Y8kEVBIb (@SouthamptonFC)
Whether or not N’Lundulu will be able to break into the first-team picture this season is unclear. Che Adams, Danny Ings, Shane Long and Michael Obafemi appear to be ahead in the pecking order, but Hasenhuttl won’t be able to ignore his performances at Under-23 level if he continues to perform with consistency.
With dynamism and energy in abundance, coupled with a natural goalscorer’s instinct, there is no reason why the attacker will not go on to succeed if he is given sufficient opportunities to impress.