Welcome to Sandals For Goalposts’ new feature: Player of the Week. After each gameweek, our team of writers, or even our readers (you’re more than welcome to contribute), will put forward an African or Asian player who has performed well over that particular gameweek with a terrific performance or something off-the-pitch that deserves special praise and recognition.
The French-born Malian, who joined QPR on loan from AS Nancy in January with a view to a permanent move in the summer, made an unceremonious debut in a 1-0 defeat to Fulham, receiving his marching orders after just 33 minutes following a series of wild tackles as he adjusted into the hurly-burly of the Premiership. In a way, it exemplified the Mali international’s rawness and physicality. Anyone who watched Mali at the Cup of Nations would testify that they were the most physical team, often escaping with some horrific tackles that would have certainly been severely punished if the standards of refereeing were stricter.
The Malian showcased his rawness for the first 25 minutes in a remarkable 3-2 win by QPR against Liverpool last week, akin to a fan who has won a competition to play for a Premiership club for a single game with his over-enthusiasm, mistimed dribbles and misplaced places. For the rest of the game, though, he was a different player. He transformed into a hybrid of Yaya Toure and Cheick Tiote as he regularly stormed past the Liverpool midfield with a combination of heavy-weight boxer power and tenacity to bulldoze his way through the Liverpool midfield. He may be raw, he may look like an Alia Dia impressionist at times, but against Liverpool he showed why QPR have signed him.