Ademola Lookman took his tally to four goals in 10 outings after scoring a brace for his loan club RB Leipzig on Saturday, in their 4-1 victory over VFL Wolfsburg. It keeps Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side firmly in the hunt for a European spot for a second successive season.
The 20-year-old Englishman has made an excellent impact for the side from Lower Saxony since his arrival in January from Premier League club, Everton. It is no secret that his temporary manager, together with sporting director Ralf Rangnick would like him to stay beyond his loan spell: “I think he has huge potential and he’s done really well for us since he came,” said the coach. “It was a really important transfer and I hope the last word hasn’t been spoken on the matter just yet.”
“If it were only up to us, then I would already know the answer,” Rangnick told Bundesliga.com recently. “But it’s not only up to us – there’s no option in his contract. We’ll have to see what happens in the summer and it also depends on what happens at Everton.”
Lookman has impressed from the outset in his spell in Germany, climbing off the bench on his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 21 to score the winner at Borussia Park in their 1-0 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach. He also scored the equaliser away at Werder Bremen on Matchday 30, just four minutes after coming on at half-time in the clash at the Weser-Stadion. The pacy winger has enjoyed his time in Germany and has thrived under Hasenhüttl’s tutelage stating that: “The coach just wants me to express myself, to show people and show what I can do because I have a lot of strengths, and he wants my strengths to become even bigger strengths. That’s what he wants me to do.”
It has been a remarkable last 12 months for Lookman who played an integral part in England’s Under 20 World Cup success in South Korea. Understandably, in order to aid his development, he wanted to play more first team football, something that didn’t appear to be on offer at Goodison Park. Everton manager Sam Allardyce explained that: “I don’t guarantee anybody first team football here. We have a huge number of players here fighting and scrapping for places. It’s a difficult task to get in the side. He hadn’t played much before I got here and it’s a consistency level which is the problem.”
Yet despite this, the Everton manager did not want him to lose Lookman. After the former Charlton player’s insistence that he wanted to go somewhere else in search of regular first-team football that he reluctantly agreed to let him move on loan and agreed a deal with Championship Derby County.Lookman however was adamant that he wanted to move to the Leipzig: “We had another offer from a top Championship club [Derby] as well but he chose Leipzig. Hopefully he will get a lot of football in the Bundesliga, but for me it is a very very difficult challenge for anybody, especially somebody at such a young age. He has a lot of talent from the football point of view, but from cultural point of view and a language point of view he could find that difficult.”
The way in which Lookman has not only embraced but made a success of the challenge of joining another club in another country is testament to his character and self-belief. It also makes a mockery of Allardyce’s insular view that he could find the task difficult. Whilst it probably would have been the case that Lookman would have gained more minutes had he made the move to the East Midlands, the opportunity to learn another culture and to play alongside players such as Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg and Liverpool-bound Naby Keita, would have been far more valuable for Lookman’s own development.
It will be fascinating to see if the impact Lookman has made during his loan spell in Germany will prompt his parent club to keep hold of him. For a player with such obvious talent and potential, it would seem short-sighted for Everton not to give the young winger much more game time next season. Given the fact that he has enjoyed his experience in the Bundesliga, as well as earning praise from both Leipzig’s manager and sporting director, the temptation for Lookman to return to Leipzig will no doubt be difficult to resist. The Bundesliga continues to offer a platform in which young players such as Lookman are trusted and given an opportunity to play. If Lookman was to return to Germany on a permanent basis, the Premier League’s and Everton’s loss would certainly be the Bundesliga’s gain.
By Jonathan Shelley.