When it comes to Ross County, one thing is for certain. They love Canadian soccer players. Either that, or they really wanted to make Victor Loturi feel at home, so much so that they signed his older brother William Akio. It’s been a strange couple of months for Canadian soccer players, almost absurdly unusual in the number of players making their way abroad. Akio is the next in line to join a European club, even in light of one of the greatest misses the game has ever seen.
But as Ross County put it, Akio has so much pace and dynamism to offer, and so much more about him than all the discussion around his miss at the moment. So with that, here is our analysis as to why William Akio caught the eye of Ross County.
Akio started all thirteen of Valour’s matches this season before his move to Ross County, massively underachieving on just 2 goals and 1 “assist”. We put assist in quotation marks, because anyone who watched Valour’s 6-1 whopping of Atletico Ottawa will know that the wing wizard put several assists on a plate for Valour’s hungry strikers that day, in one of the standout individual performances of the season so far.
Akio has the potential, on the drop of a dime, to completely destroy and destruct an opposition defense all on his own. Through sheer pace and power and his sublime 1v1 dribbling, Akio frequently disrupts the dreams of opposition fullbacks, making himself a natural target for progressive passes. His dribbling percentage sits at a decent 51% this season, and he’s created nearly 1 chance per match down that right-hand-channel.
Akio’s heatmap shows a clear image of a player who does his best damage out on the right wing, where he can isolate defenders 1v1 and use his pace and power to produce opportunities to play into the penalty area. He loves to take the ball to the by-line of the eighteen-yard-box, where he can then deliver into the box for an onrushing attacker, or even have a shot at goal himself. I’ve always thought that the one aspect of his game holding him back is the recognition of when to use his pace and power to go 1v1, and when to play passes in for his teammates. He can be quite individualistic in his mindset, and his big miss against HFX only confirmed that in the eyes of many. But nevertheless, there’s no denying Akio’s dynamism, and the brilliance he provides in moments and glimpses in front of goal. When given a proper sight of goal, he’s absolutely clinical.
Entering a new club, Akio’s quest will then be to refine his tactical IQ with the ball at his feet, with a solid foundation already in place when it comes to picking up the right pockets of space to receive the ball in dangerous positions. Having a player like Akio has the potential to eliminate defenders in two distinct ways. Progressive passes into his path can be deadly in eliminating defenders from the equation, and utilizing his pace to explode on the break. But the South Sudanese international can also eliminate defenders all on his own, through that expert mix of speed and control on the dribble.
A master of disguise, Akio loves to front his opposite number with his chest square on, before quickly shifting the ball left or right around the defender. This ability to create half a yard for himself not only opens up space for a killer pass, but even a killer shot, where he’s often deadly in matching pace for accuracy.
Combine that with his electric sprinter’s speed and dynamism on the break, and you get a highly influential playmaker capable of being so much more than just the ‘Dynamic Dribbler’ type that best describes him. If he can then just be careful about doing too much on his own, get his head up and see his teammates, Akio’s career could be set to take off at Ross County.
OUT OF POSSESSION
Possessing a massive amount of strength, power and pace, William Akio can make himself useful in defensive phases. FotMob has his tackle percentage at 62.5% this season, and he hones every necessary quality to be an energetic presser. There was even one moment this season where he filled in at right-back, after a series of calamitous events for Phillip Dos Santos’ team. Akio is evidently better going forward, but it’s worth noting that even as a right-back he assisted his team’s only goal that day, an own-goal that left him once again without a credited “assist” in the proper sense of the word.
As Valour defend in a 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 shape, Akio holds an important series of tasks in stunting progression to opposition full-backs. His role is mostly about narrowing central channels, always remaining on the inside of his opposite number, even allowing the pass to come into the wide player before amplifying up his press. Even if not backed up by volume of numbers, Akio’s made himself a useful defender this season, tracking all the way back to their low-block phases of the game to aid his team’s cause. He could work on his body shape and angling in defensive phases, remaining entirely switched on to force the opposition wide and react more through his body momentum already orienting to the channel. But he’s not a lazy, all-out-attack kind of maverick, and this should boost his ability to earn a starting birth in time with the Staggies.
All and all, Ross County have made a smart signing in William Akio, who on his day can be an absolute game-changer. County boss Malky Mackay already has three Canadian players at his disposal, including Akio’s brother in Victor Loturi, to help the 23-year-old settle in. If he can find his footing and settle in right away, this could easily be the move that helps the South Sudanese international refine the tactical side of his game, particularly with the ball at his feet. We commend William Akio on his move, and will dearly miss watching the wing wizard in the Canadian Premier League for Valour FC.
So there it is! Why William Akio caught the attention of Ross County. Be sure to check out more of our Player Analyses, CANPL content, and don’t forget to follow on social media @desmondrhys and @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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