Scouting: Musa Barrow
The Gambian gem gearing up for a big move.
Having only played 1,715 minutes of senior club football in his life, gambian Musa Barrow has scored 7 goals and 7 assists since the 2017/18 season, in which he made his debut. Playing 444 minutes for Bergamo outfit Atalanta, he scored 3 and assisted 2, a goal contribution every 89 minutes. The following season, Barrow still only played 592 minutes of league football, scoring 1 and assisting a further 2, soaring to a goal contribution every 197 minutes. Move onto the 2019/20 season and Barrow was behind Josep Ilicic, Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel and Papu Gomez in the pecking order. So he waited for his chance and grabbed 2 assists in 186 Serie A minutes for Atalanta, before jumping ship to Bologna. Thriving, Barrow has 3 goals and 1 assist in 492 minutes played for the side based in northern Italy. Let's see why he deserves a shot in a bigger team.
Aged only 21 and given his statistics above, it's fair to say Musa Barrow probably deserved a shot in the first team of Gian Pierre Gasperini's gung-ho Atalanta side. Only behind Lazio for goals scored in Serie A before the coronavirus brought football to halt, Atalanta are playing some of the most exciting football across the world right now. Whilst most of the credit is going to the likes of Josep Ilicic (and rightly so having contributed 28.5% of Atalanta's league goals scored) and Alejandro Gomez is finally getting the recognition he deserves, Barrow should've certainly been getting more minutes.
With Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata aged 29 and Ilicic and Gomez both 32, Barrow was the youngest forward in Atalanta's squad and should've been the future of the club. But clearly getting frustrated at his lack of minutes, Barrow rightfully secured a loan (with an obligation to purchase) move to a side where he knew he could get some meaningful game time and decent progression. Bologna sat comfortably in 10th, 9 points from relegation and 2 points from 7th placed Milan before coronavirus put a stop to the season and Barrow was beginning to demolish Serie A sides on a weekly.
With pace to burn, it's no wonder Barrow was completing 1.7 dribbles per 90, the same as Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne and only 0.1 lower than Juventus' main man Cristiano Ronaldo. Laying on 1.7 key passes for a striker is absolutely absurd, joint highest in the Bologna squad despite joining in January. By comparison, Roberto Firmino, who is said to facilitate all the play in Liverpool's attacking trident, is only managing 1.3 key passes per Premier League game. In fact, the gambian and the brazilian almost can't be seperated in terms of creative output. Barrow was averaging 29.6 passes per league game for Bologna with Firmino playing nearly 33. Musa had a pass accuracy of 81%, whilst Firmino's sits at 80%. A creator and a goal scorer.
It's fair to say he does his fair share of the dirty work too, averaging 1.4 tackles and 0.3 interceptions per Serie A game for Bologna. Not to kick Firmino whilst he's down but as he is claimed to do some of Liverpool's defensive work, let's compare the two of them again. The brazilian only manages 1 tackle and 0.2 interceptions per Premier League game. The moral of the story: Firmino, eat your heart out.
Whilst Bologna hold an obligation to purchase from Atalanta on July 1st 2021, it is for a measly £11.7m, per Transfermarkt. Having not played much senior football, there are definitely some sides who should have their eyes on the gambian, whom they could claw away from northern Italy if the price is right.
Napoli could do a whole lot worse than signing Barrow. With club legend Dries Mertens contract finishing in June 2020 and no sign of him penning an extension, Barrow could be the perfect replacement and partner to Arkadiusz Milik. Were Napoli to revert to a 4-4-2 formation, Musa could partner the polish international and become quite a deadly strike force. Napoli suffered quite a drop-off in the 2019/20 season, with several issues behind the scenes causing The Little Donkeys to languish outside the Champions League spots in 6th place. Barrow would be the perfect signing to get the fans on their feet and get back to challenging Juventus at the summit of Serie A. He wouldn't cost a fortune either.
Alternatively, with Lille forward Victor Osimhen being linked with a £60m switch away from France, Les Dogues might find the ideal man in Barrow. Valued at a sixth of Osimhen's value, LOSC would have a fair amount of spare change to spend on other areas of the squad, but still have a striker that can score goals as well as create them. A smart acquisition were Lille to pull the trigger and sign the gambian.
Perhaps a move to a Bundesliga side would suit Barrow. It's no secret that RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner is being courted by some of Europe's elite clubs, and with Jean-Kevin Augustin potentially leaving on a permanent transfer to Leeds following his loan spell, Yussuf Poulsen will need a strike partner. Werner's £70m price tag, as on Transfermarkt, could land the Red Bull side a pretty penny, and a smidge of that spent on Barrow could turn out to be a big pay off. In similar moulds, Barrow could thrive under Julian Nagelsmann at the Red Bull Arena given their track record of signing and improving youngsters, this is a move I, personally, would love to see happen.
Does Barrow's future lie in Italy? Nobody can be sure, but keep an eye on the Gambian none the less.