Yankuba Minteh vs Celtic
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Yankuba Minteh: The Next Newcastle Superstar

Yankuba Minteh can be the Premier League’s next big star, and Newcastle could have completed a masterstroke in the transfer market.

The Gambian youth prospect is on loan in the Eredivisie at title challengers Feyenoord. The Dutch league has been where several Premier Leagues have sent talent to develop: Mason Mount (Vitesse), Jarrad Branthwaite (PSV), and the next could be Yankuba Minteh.

Newcastle signed him in June 2023 from Danish club Odense Boldklub despite just playing 17 league games; he is another example of excellent recruitment by Dan Ashworth and his team. Minteh has been excellent in recent weeks, and it looks like he could make a huge impact at St. James’ Park as early as next season. But what makes the winger so special?

Tactical Breakdown

Wingers nowadays come in several varieties: you can have an inside forward (similar to Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah in the old Liverpool system), an inverted winger (a Phil Foden profile, more creative and technical), or you can have a somewhat traditional winger who will stay wide and look to beat the defender either way (Vinícius Júnior). Minteh likely fits best into the last category; he has a very similar profile to Vinicius Junior, both visually and statistically.

A statistical comparison of Vinícius Júnior and Yankuba Minteh from Data MB

This graph (taken from the Data MB website) compares Minteh this season and Vinícius Júnior last season, where he registered 44 goal contributions in 55 games, won the Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, and the Spanish Cup. He was one of the best players in the world, and the statistics showed this, but Yankuba Minteh still compares incredibly well to him, even out-ranking him in certain attributes. Minteh has only played 25 games so far this season (1,144 minutes), so while it is only a small sample size; this should not take away from how impressive he has been when he has played.

Other statistics that Minteh ranks well in, compared to other wingers, include:

  • Expected goal contributions per 90
    • 0.83 (99th percentile)
  • Successful take-ons per 90
    • 4.63 (99th percentile)
  • Tackles per 90
    • 2.55 (96th percentile)
  • Goal-creating actions
    • 1.39 (99th percentile)
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Yankuba Minteh is statistically one of the best wingers in the world. If he can continue this form into next season, back at Newcastle, he could assert himself on the world stage and rapidly become a household name.

Video Analysis

Yankuba Minteh’s performances this season will likely earn him a place in Newcastle’s first-team squad next season, and he already fits the system perfectly. Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United team is known for their intense approach in and out of possession, looking to move the ball up the pitch quickly and win it back quickly when they lose the ball. Their wingers (Anthony Gordon and Miguel Almirón) are no exception, and Minteh will have to prove himself in this area if he wants a regular spot in the side. However, he has already shown that he is capable of pressing, and his defensive work rate is very impressive.

Yankuba Minteh winning possession back for Feyenoord

Feyenoord form a diamond shape around the man on the ball, making it very difficult for Dybala (the Roma player in possession) to continue without finding a pass. As he looks to move the ball on, Minteh challenges him from the side, ensuring he doesn’t give a foul away. This is just one example of the Gambian’s out-of-possession work rate, a feature of his game that will be necessary if he wants to become a starter for Newcastle United.

Minteh is just as impressive in possession as he is out of it, he can play on either wing comfortably and attack his full-back on either side (dribbling the ball outside and putting a cross in, or cutting inside and playing a line-breaking pass or shooting). When possible, Minteh looks to utilise his sprinter-like pace, play a one-two inside, and continue his run on the outside. This is only a basic tactical move, but it can be very effective if used correctly, as the Feyenoord loanee often does.

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Minteh receives the ball wide and plays a pass inside on his weaker foot

After winning the ball back on the halfway line, Arne Slot’s team looks to stretch the pitch – this is a feature of positional play, of which the Dutchman is a follower. In this screenshot, Minteh receives the ball on the right wing, and he could run down the line and attempt to beat the defender. However, he recognises the space his teammate is in (in the right half-space), so he plays a first-time pass to him, with his weaker right foot. This is not only tactically intelligent, but it shows that, despite being so young, his decision-making is mature and that of an experienced professional.

How would Yankuba Minteh be used for Newcastle?

Eddie Howe has typically used a fluid back three in possession structure at Newcastle, Dan Burn inverts into a wide centre-back position, and Kieran Trippier will push higher up the pitch, either holding the width or inverting into midfield. Ahead of the defence, Bruno Guimarães starts in the centre and forms a diamond structure with the defenders; the two other central midfielders take up the half spaces or rotate with the wingers and hold the width. This leaves the front three to play as conventional attackers, with one as the central striker and two high and wide wingers. Minteh could play on either side of this front three, preferring to stay wide no matter which side he is deployed on.

Arne Slot’s Feyenoord has a similar structure, and they often look to overload to isolate. This means committing three or four players to one side of the pitch while leaving the other side with just one player so he is left one-against-one with the full-back. Howe has been known to use a similar idea, isolating Gordon on the left-hand side but not Almirón because his take on success isn’t as high. When Minteh returns to the club in the summer, Newcastle will be able to do this for both wingers.

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minteh vs celtic position

This screenshot shows the Feyenoord possession structure. There is a diamond structure created with the three defenders and the defensive midfielder, and they have committed four players to the right-hand side (one attacker is off-screen). Yankuba Minteh is left on his own against the right-back because he has the attributes to beat him in a one-on-one.

Due to the threat on the right, the Celtic central midfielders move over to support the left of their defence. This leaves Feyenoord’s left-sided central midfielder free to move onto the attacking line. The Celtic right-back has to come over and risk leaving Minteh on his own on the far side.

minteh vs celtic goal

After intricate play on the right wing, Feyenoord have the ball on the edge of the penalty area, and Minteh is left completely unmarked. The winger is found with a brilliant through ball, and he finishes with ease past the goalkeeper, This is a very well-worked attacking movement that can be replicated at Newcastle United.

If Yankuba Minteh can replicate his impressive performances for the rest of the season, he will be included in the Newcastle squad next season. However, performances on the pitch aren’t enough for the Newcastle manager; he demands hard work for his team.

“There is no magic formula to success. It is down to hard work and graft on the training ground and having a good attitude. “

– Eddie Howe talking about his coaching principles.

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