The mixed reception to the announcement that Huddersfield Town have signed Stoke City forward Ramadan Sobhi is a telling one.
After bursting onto the scene for Stoke City, the Egyptian forward has struggled in recent times and found himself falling out of favour not only with the Staffordshire club but also with the fans. The response to his departure has confirmed this.
Whilst some of the blame must be apportioned to Ramadan Sobhi, it doesn’t paint the entire picture as a number of factors came into play in causing Sobhi’s recent struggles.
When he arrived at Stoke City, there was a certain hype surrounding Ramadan Sobhi. However, whilst this can breed confidence, it may also have led to him becoming a victim of hype and inflated expectations, primarily in the eyes of the fans.
The Egyptian forward’s first season in England was a demonstration of a raw but fearless young player who wasn’t afraid to take risks – something that should’ve been built upon ro help him thrive, especially after the departure of Marko Arnautovic.
Instead, perhaps as a result of poor coaching, Sobhi retreated into his shell as he became terrified of making a decision, something which led to his decision-making being heavily criticised.
This misdirection from a coaching perspective, combined with a lack of opportunities in a struggling Stoke City side, led to Sobhi’s crisis of confidence.
Despite his recent struggles, it is easy to forget that the 21-year-old winger had a long list of suitors prior to joining Stoke City. Whilst at Cairo club Al-Ahly, Sobhi’s performances attracted the attention of Arsenal, RB Leipzig, Sampdoria and Roma.
The fact that clubs of that size and calibre were showing an interest in him indicates that Sobhi does have the potential and the natural talent needed to thrive and succeed in one of Europe’s elite leagues.
This is what David Wagner is more capable of extracting than most.
Rather than being blinded by the short-term gauge of ‘current form’, he is able to make a distinction between current form, potential and talent.
Undoubtedly, Sobhi fits the profile for David Wagner; young, hard-working, untapped potential and often struggling at their current club. These are all hallmarks of a typical David Wagner signing.
This leads on to the task facing David Wagner.
With Ramadan Sobhi clearly having a wealth of natural ability, David Wagner’s task is to unlock the potential of the twenty-one year old.
To do so, it may be a matter of nurturing the player.
David Wagner’s arm around the shoulder style of coaching may be precisely what Sobhi needs for him to rebuild his confidence, especially with the assurance that he will be guaranteed more playing time than what he got at Stoke City.
Up until now, aside from Chelsea loanees Kasey Palmer and Izzy Brown, we haven’t seen David Wagner’s ability to develop young talent come to the fore.
With Ramadan Sobhi, he will get that chance.
If Wagner can help Ramadan Sobhi get into the right frame of mind and re-find his confidence to take risks and express himself, he could prove to be a diamond in the rough that was just in need of polishing.