Canadians Abroad Roundup: Is Daniel Jebbison Canada's new rising star?

Sheffield United's Daniel Jebbison celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Sheffield United at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (Alex Pantling/AP)

A young Canadian striker continues to impress in Europe.

No, it's not Jonathan David, as magnificent as he's been. This is in reference to Daniel Jebbison.

Some Canadian soccer hardcores are aware of Jebbison, but the Oakville, Ont., native is one of a handful of notable dual nationals who've yet to commit to the men's national team. The 18-year-old made headlines earlier this year when he scored his first Premier League goal for Sheffield United against Everton.

This followed a scintillating return to form with Sheffield United's developmental team as a 17-year-old. With Jebbison scoring a goal every other game on average, the club facing relegation to the Championship and his former coach Paul Heckingbottom in charge as caretaker manager, the youngster earned a run of games in the English top flight.

As United prepared for life in the second division, the club felt that Jebbison would be better served spending a year on loan rather than riding the bench in the Championship, so third-tier side Burton Albion loaned him for the season.

When I first watched Jebbison with Sheffield United's U-23s, the potential was clear. He's tall, quick, works hard off the ball and executed good runs off the ball. His two big issues were anticipation in the box – which prevented him from scoring even more – and a lack of strength, which is going to come with time.

Having earned nearly 1,000 minutes for Burton in all competitions this season, Jebbison has six goals – including four in his last three starts – and is among the league leaders in expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes, per Opta.

Delving further into Jebbison's underlying numbers, it's apparent that he is growing into his own as a finisher when analyzing his statistical radar.

Having ex-Premier League and Dutch international striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been a huge benefit for Jebbison. He's more assured when he executes his off-the-ball runs and doesn't hesitate when the ball arrives at his feet, as seen in the clips below from last Tuesday's game against Accrington Stanley.

Jebbison is No. 21 in yellow.

That performance carried into Saturday's win over Doncaster, as he scored a tremendous backheel and could've finished the match with a hat trick.

Jebbison has developed more strength when engaging in individual duels and remains a hard worker off the ball as well, aided by his long strides. If he keeps improving his touch and vision, which can be viewed in the video above, the Oakville, Ont., native could become a striker in the mould of Alexander Isak. The Swedish international joined Borussia Dortmund as a teenager before settling in at Real Sociedad in La Liga. Like Jebbison, Isak is tall, quick and a lethal finisher, scoring 17 goals in 34 games last season.

The form exhibited by Jebbison has led to a report that Sheffield United will consider recalling him from his loan in January.

However, that means Jebbison has two experienced strikers in Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick to usurp. Competition is good, but the primary reason for Jebbison's form is down to regular minutes in League One, where many young players started their careers. Returning to the Championship to ride the bench wouldn't be conducive to a positive trajectory.

If Heckingbottom is still the caretaker manager, then Jebbison should earn opportunities. If he doesn't, he'll need to fight for his place. If he does and wins a spot, then fair play to Jebbison. But the club should seriously weigh the pros and cons, especially if he's potentially good enough to play in the second tier.

As for his national-team future, Jebbison has been capped by England's U-19s in official competition. That means he'll need to file a one-time switch of nationality to represent his native country. If he does, he'll join the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David and Tajon Buchanan as the nation's next rising star.

BITS AND BOBS

• Speaking of Jonathan David, he scored a massive goal for Lille in the UEFA Champions League in midweek to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the knockout stage. He followed that up with a missed penalty in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Nantes, though.

But there is no doubt that David is one of Europe's hottest commodities, recording 12 goals in 19 games across all competitions despite Lille's struggles domestically. The Canadian leads the Ligue 1 Golden Boot race, plus only Robert Lewandowski, Mohamed Salah, Karim Benzema and Dusan Vlahovic have scored more goals in Europe's top-five leagues this season. He also ranks eighth in non-penalty xG, per FBRef.com.

David turns 22 in January, has three and a half years left on his contract and Lille is mired in debt. Serie A champions Inter have been linked to the young forward in recent days, and the list of suitors will only grow if this form continues.

• Alphonso Davies was named man of the match in Bayern Munich's victory over Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League on Tuesday. Ironically, that match was played in snow and below-freezing temperatures. Nothing Davies isn't used to already after his Edmonton homecoming with the national team.

He followed up the midweek performance with another solid showing versus Arminia Bielefeld. Like the Dynamo game, Davies was constantly involved in the final third, completing 48 of 57 passes, five of his seven dribbles and he even had a glorious chance to score.

Just another week for Phonzie.

• It's tough for Ike Ugbo to crack Genk's starting lineup with Paul Onuachu banging in goals on the regular. But with Onuachu injured, the Canadian international started in a 1-1 draw with Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League on Thursday. Ugbo only had one shot, yet it proved vital as he scored to keep Genk in the hunt to qualify for the knockout stage.

The 23-year-old retained his place for the following league match for Genk on Sunday. Ugbo didn't convert, but this is the first time he's earned back-to-back starts since joining the club. He's still averaging 0.45 xG per 90 in all competitions despite logging 535 minutes this season, predominantly as a substitute. That only underlines his strengths as a penalty-box threat.

• Cyle Larin should've had at least two goals in Besiktas' loss to Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday. Larin was deployed as an out-and-out No. 9 to take advantage of Ajax's high defensive line and he was a threat off the ball. There was just no finish.

Larin started the subsequent league game on Saturday and had two brilliant headers in the 4-0 loss, both of which were saved brilliantly.

• It wasn't the best weekend for Turkish-based Canadians, with Sam Adekugbe and Hatayspor suffering a 4-0 loss of their own to Sivasspor. Take nothing away from Adekugbe, though, who has been excellent since transferring from Norwegian club Valerenga.

• Stefan Eustaquio logged 90 minutes for Pacos de Ferreira, who lost 2-0 to Maritimo. Eustaquio is usually flawless for club and country, which has continued this season. It begs the question: will it lead to a bigger move for the Canadian midfielder in January?

• Don't look now, but Steven Vitoria is turning into a goal-scoring machine. He's scored twice in the last week for Moreirense.

• In MLS, Alistair Johnston and Nashville SC lost to the Philadelphia Union after a penalty shootout in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Tajon Buchanan's New England Revolution face New York City FC in their conference semifinal on Tuesday.

• Scott Kennedy suffered another setback after he was pulled from Jahn Regensburg's starting lineup during warmups on Friday. The club said he was dealing with adductor issues, which led to him being dropped. Kennedy missed the October and November windows for Canada due to injury, so it's worth monitoring with the 2. Bundesliga winter break coming up in a few weeks.

• There were a couple of requests for a Belal Halbouni update. To those who aren't aware of Halbouni, the 22-year-old is a regular starter for Werder Bremen's reserves in the German fourth tier. He joined the club in 2019 from League1 Ontario's FC London. The pandemic forced the previous Regionalliga season to be cancelled, so he's only played consistently in Europe over the last few months.

Halbouni began his career as a midfielder, which explains his great technique. He's comfortable carrying the ball forward, then distributing on the run, which provides his teams with a second deep-lying playmaker of sorts. He was a part of the national team's camp in January 2021. Perhaps he'll receive more recognition in 2022.

• Another young centre-back to watch is Malik Owolabi-Belewu. The 19-year-old dual national most recently played for SPAL's U-19s in Italy, but it's unknown whether he's still with the club. If he plays first-team football, then he'll be a bona fide option for the defence.

The potential is there. Owolabi-Belewu is comfortable enough under pressure in possession and he is quick both on and off the ball. He reads the game defensively very well, even though there are occasional blips with his position, thus opening up wide gaps for opponents to exploit. But he's young, those will be corrected.

• Scott Arfield has been ever-present since Giovanni van Bronckhorst was named Rangers manager. Arfield rewarded the faith with a goal in the win over Livingston on Sunday. The 33-year-old was could be in line for a recall to the national team, although it will be tough given the depth in quality in the midfield.

• Keep an eye on Theo Corbeanu ahead of the January window for Canada. Corbeanu struggled to earn playing time to begin his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, but has been sensational since he moved into a left wingback role. Do yourself a favour and watch No. 23 in white and blue against MK Dons last Tuesday.

• Another name in contention for a January call-up is Harry Paton. The Ross County midfielder has been excellent as a No. 8, which has always been his best role. Unfortunately for him, previous coaches didn't seem to realize this. Malky Mackay does. Here are some snippets from Saturday's 1-1 draw with Dundee United (Paton is No. 6 in navy blue).

• There's no stopping Stefan Mitrovic this season. The 19-year-old dual national scored his fifth goal of the year for Radnicki Nis in Sunday's SuperLiga victory.

Having analyzed Mitrovic last year, the strides he's taken this season are very noticeable. Mitrovic is fearless on the dribble, attempting more shots and is heavily involved in the team's attack operating in a free-roaming role. Here are some of Mitrovic's (No. 16 in red) best moments from the weekend win over Radnik Surdulica.

That form led to Mitrovic's first appearance and goal for Serbia's U-21 team earlier this month. That temporarily cap-ties the teenager to the Serbians, although he can file his one-time switch of nationality to join Canada.

• Vancouver Whitecaps loanee Theo Bair scored for HamKam in Saturday's season finale over Grorud in the Norwegian second division. The 22-year-old finishes his loan with four goals in 1,000 minutes for the title winners.

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