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ISL 2020-21: Talismanic Nerijus Valskis key to Jamshedpur FC’s fortunes

ISL 2020-21: Talismanic Nerijus Valskis key to Jamshedpur FC’s fortunes
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By

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 22 Dec 2020 5:54 PM GMT

To say that Nerijus Valskis has taken the Indian Super League (ISL) by storm is an understatement. The Lithuanian sniper has 21 goals and 6 assists in 27 games so far in one and half seasons, which means he has averaged a goal contribution in every match so far.

What is even more impressive about this statistic is that the 33-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down even after switching allegiances from Chennaiyin FC to Jamshedpur FC in the off season. Normally, strikers tend to take a little bit of time to settle down at a new club before they start firing on all cylinders. Moreover, Chennaiyin are a side that finished second best last season to eventual champions ATK and have a much stronger squad than the Red Miners on paper. Put all of that into context and you suddenly realise that his 6 goals in 7 matches this season is an exemplary return for a player who is still getting used to the hot and humid Indian conditions as well as his new teammates.

https://twitter.com/JamshedpurFC/status/1341379090541027333

For someone who is in the side to bang in goals, Valskis’ involvement in his side’s attacking gameplay is also commendable. In the seven matches so far, he has 227 touches. That is way ahead of his nearest striking counterpart Roy Krishna who himself has been terrific for ATK Mohun Bagan this ISL season. It is also testament to his fitness, having played the full 90 minutes in all of the matches so far.

Owen Coyle also deserves some credit, especially because of the way he has set his team up. It is mostly down to him how Jamshedpur have grown in stature and slowly become a lethal counter-attacking side. His usage of Valskis as well as the other attacking players like Jackichand Singh and Aniket Jadhav has also been brilliant simply because he knows which of them has the ability to compliment Valskis’ qualities based on the opposition.

Why that has worked with the aforementioned duo is because while Aniket can play just off of Valskis, Jackichand provides something different as he delivers those delicious balls down the right channel. Even William Lalnunfela has thrived this season in the ISL because he is one of those who knows that Valskis will find him with the right pass even with his back to goal. That helps him adjust his own positioning so as to always be available for a quick back and forth with the Golden Boot contender.

However, probably one area where Valskis needs to work is his communication with his teammates. Too many times this season he has cut an irate figure upfront when the service hasn’t been good enough. He has to understand that being a senior player, he needs to set an example for the youngsters and guide them through the difficult moments. For now, we’ll give him the benefit of doubt as long as he’s at his balling best. For now, he stays the best centre-forward in the ISL.

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