Former scout Liam Henshaw analyses the performances of Chiedozie Ogbene
Former scout Liam Henshaw analyses the performances of Chiedozie Ogbene

Chiedozie Ogbene: Who could be the next club for Rotherham and Republic of Ireland wing-back?


Chiedozie Ogbene might not be a name you’re familiar with. He’s 24 years old, a Republic of Ireland international and currently plays for Rotherham United in League One.

He’s not your typical Irish player though. Ogbene was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He and his family moved over to Ireland in 2005 where they settled in Cork. At 17, he was playing for Cork City, along with playing for Nemo Rangers, his local GAA club.

Fast forward to May 2021, and after spells at Limerick, Brentford and Exeter, the now Rotherham man had received his first Republic of Ireland call-up after approaching manager Stephen Kenny.

He became the first African-born player to represent the Republic of Ireland.

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How good is Chiedozie Ogbene?

Ogbene is one of the best attacking wing-backs in the Football League. He plays as a right wing-back for Rotherham, who mainly deploy a 3-5-2 system.

The role suits him down to the ground, as he is a great ball carrier with lightening pace who’s ability to progress the ball through runs is vital.

Rotherham as a team are one of the strongest defensive outfits in the league, which allows Ogbene to play high and wide, to the extent that he’s basically a winger in all but name.

In these areas he is constantly taking on opponents, driving into the box and getting the ball into dangerous areas.

When you look at his actual goal involvements, he does only have one goal and one assist this season in the league, but while this might not look particularly impressive, he has accumulated 1.4 expected goals (xG) and 4.9 expected assists (xA).

This tells us that he has been unfortunate not to have more actual goal involvements this season, and that if he continues what he’s doing, there is no doubt his output will get better.

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What does Chiedozie Ogbene have to offer?

The wing-back’s main asset is dribbling. With 9.39 dribbles per 90, he ranks as the highest volume dribbler not just in League One, but the whole EFL.

He has a dribble success rate of 56.7%, and 5.57 of his dribbles are progressive runs, meaning he’s constantly drawing his side closer towards the opposition goal. This again ranks him among the best in the EFL.

Ogbene uses this ability to beat a man to get into dangerous areas, shown by his average of 2.76 touches in the opposition box per 90. This causes chaos for the opposition.

It’s not just his dribbling ability which stands out either, as Ogbene knows how to deliver dangerous balls into the box.

He averages 2.41 successful crosses and 0.25 xA per 90, and while this is likely impacted due to Rotherham’s more direct playing style of getting the ball wide and into the box, it still shows Ogbene’s delivery and creative ability from these situations, as he ranks in the 95th percentile for both metrics.

Ogbene stats

There are areas for improvement though, most noticeably with his ability to accurately distribute the ball.

He ranks in the bottom 15% of League One full-backs and wing-backs for forward passing accuracy, and bottom 5% for overall passing accuracy. Whilst this isn’t really his game, he can get better here.

You’ll also notice his numbers defensively are very low, and there are numerous reasons behind this.

Although Ogbene is a wing-back, his average position is almost that of a winger. The higher he plays, the less defending he has to do.

He also plays in a side who have the lowest xG against (19.03 xGA) and the fewest goals conceded (17) in League One, meaning he isn’t forced to do much defending as they’re so strong anyway.

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Who should sign him?

Every club in the Championship who play with wing-backs will have, without a doubt, been looking at Ogbene - and possibly every club who need a right-winger as well.

Based on the type of player Ogbene is, we can rule out some of the more possession-based sides who play with wing-backs, such as Swansea City, QPR and Coventry.

West Brom under Valérien Ismaël are a side who are direct, quick in transition and rely on progression from the wing-backs. These are all areas where Ogbene does well.

They also play in a structured 3-4-2-1 system and are similar to Rotherham and are defensively solid.

West Brom do currently have Darnell Furlong as first choice wing-back, however, he’s currently only averaging 3.18 dribbles per 90, with 53.3% of these being successful.

Ogbene v Furlong 21/22

He also has a lower crossing accuracy (28.7% vs Ogbene’s 32.0%.) and a lower xA per 90 (0.12 vs 0.25).

So Ogbene could well be an upgrade on what they have already, if not at least a very good squad player. West Brom do have aspirations of getting back to the Premier League quickly though, and I feel that would be too big of a step up for him.

Another West Midlands side who might be interested in Ogbene is Birmingham City. They’re going through somewhat of a transitional period under Lee Bowyer, and while they are flexible with their system, the Blues generally prefer a 3-4-1-2.

At right wing-back they have Maxime Colin who is more of a defensive full-back and isn’t really suited to a wing-back role. He shows up below average across most metrics for a full-back/wing-back.

Occasionally they’ll play Jordan Graham as a wing-back, but he’s only managed 700 minutes of football this season. Ogbene would be an excellent upgrade for them.

Finally, Stoke City could be an interesting destination. They almost exclusively play a 3-5-2, with experienced defender Tommy Smith at right wing-back.

Whilst he does show up well for creativity, successful crosses and progressive passes, Ogbene could present a different option.

Smith does little in the way of ball carrying, he’s also 29 years old and is out of contract in the summer, so is likely looking for a long-term deal. If Stoke didn’t want to offer that, Ogbene would bring creative output along with better ball carrying ability and attacking impetus.

Ogbene is out of contract in the summer, but Rotherham have the option to extend his contract for a year. He’s now a Republic of Ireland international, and a proven player at the top of League One. Ogbene is ready to test himself at a higher level in the Championship.

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