Current Club: Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)
DOB: 18 July 1998
Birthplace: Accra, Ghana
Height: 177 cm (5’10) Weight: 64 kg (141 lbs)
|West African Football Academy (-2016)
|Ghana Premier League (1st Division)
|Red Bull Salzburg (2016-Present)
|Austrian Bundesliga (1st Division)
|FC Liefering (2016-2019) (Loan)
|Austrian 2. Liga (2nd Division)
|Sturm Graz (2019) (Loan)
|Zulte Waregem (2019-20) (Loan)
|Belgian Pro League (1st Division)
Gideon Mensah is an attack-minded left back who brings excellent technical ability and high energy. Is at his best when he is on the ball and moving forward, eagerly providing overlapping runs. Greatest strength is his service from the flank, with accurate and curling crosses being his trademark. Mensah’s defending raises plenty of questions, with his skillset being more suited for the wing back position than at full back. However, his superb attacking qualities and young age will make managers believe that he can be developed into a better defender.
General Pros and Cons
+ Pushes forward relentlessly to support the attack, where he excels at providing service.
+ Left foot is excellent. Whips in crosses with pace and precision. Has quickly become a preferred set piece taker.
+ At his best when the game opens up. Active and energetic nature aids him in getting up and down the flank easily. Good recovery speed.
– Defending can be an adventure. Prone to ball-watching and losing track of his man. Susceptible on crosses when defending the far post because of suspect marking and aerial ability.
– Too impatient and aggressive when defending 1v1. Concedes unnecessary fouls and needs to do better at keeping attackers in front of him. Susceptible to cards due to carelessness.
+ Above average speed and accelerates well over distance, which aids his ability to track back and recover the ball when the game opens up.
+ Maintains high work rate for 90 minutes. Covers plenty of ground to fulfill defensive and attacking duties.
– Average to below average strength. Gets outmuscled in traffic and close quarters. Ability in the air is unconvincing with average leaping ability.
+ Trusted to initiate attacks from the back with his passing skill and dribbling. Adds an “extra winger” element with ability to go forward.
+ Crossing ability is already at a top European league level. Hits his targets regularly and sends services in with pace. Is already being trusted with set pieces and can curl the ball very well.
– Tackling needs more sophistication. Downside of his high energy style is that he can be too aggressive to win the ball back, resulting in better dribblers getting behind him.
+ Very confident in his technical ability. Wants to be on the ball and fancies his capabilities on set pieces.
– Has moments when he is too calm, where he is lackadaisical and careless with the ball. Considering his duties of dribbling and distributing out of defense, these moments can be costly.
+ Good vision. Keeps his head up when on the ball to identify passing targets and distributes with purpose and ambition.
+ Wins a fair share of balls in advanced positions. With improved tackling he could be a real asset for teams that want to press high.
– Gets caught ball watching too often. Positioning is generally suspect and he is not yet a reliable man-marker.
– Impatience in the tackle leads him to commit unnecessary fouls and let opponents get behind him.
Rankings are out of 27 left backs who played 15 or more matches in the Belgian Pro League 2019-20
Yellow cards: 6 (T-1st)
Defensive duels won %: 59.68 (18th)
Successful defensive actions/90 mins: 12.03 (4th)
A sample of Mensah’s defensive numbers indicate that he certainly gets involved, but struggles with efficiency in his contributions. His 1v1 defending is unreliable at this point, and a player of his athleticism and ability shouldn’t be leading his peers in yellow cards.
The high amount of yellow cards and low duels won percentage is indicative of his poor tackling discipline and impatience. However, a bright spot to take is that his high work rate and ability to cover ground translates to the high amount of successful defensive actions.
When looking at some of Gideon’s attacking and dribbling statistics and how they rank against his fellow left backs, the numbers indicate how much he excels going forward:
The offensive duels number really indicates how often he is in the opponent’s half, initiating attacks and engaging defenders. In general, the attacking statistics show that he is always overlapping and is comfortable when dribbling in the opponent’s half. It is safe to say that when operating as a full back, Mensah is essentially an extra winger.
Evaluation: Due for a club upgrade, but not ready for a big 4 league yet.
Gideon Mensah stands out at a high level in Belgium because of marauding runs forward from left back and service from out wide. His passing, technical ability, and decent athleticism make him capable of competing regularly in a top league. However, there are notable limitations at this stage in his defending. Excessive aggression in the tackle and lackadaisical marking are holes that can be exposed by better attackers. The skillset Mensah brings is impressive to potential buyers, but he needs another year or two before he’s ready for an elite level club.
Starting out in Europe with FC Liefering, Red Bull Salzburg’s reserve team, and graduating to loans at higher stages has benefited Mensah’s career. Based on the rumors surrounding his future, it appears that top Belgian (Genk, Anderlecht) and Portuguese (Porto, Guimaraes) clubs lead the chase. Based on his body of work so far, that seems to be the appropriate level for Mensah to next challenge himself.