CHELSEA’s latest arrival Noni Madueke is “a mentality monster” who plays like Arjen Robben.
That is the verdict of personal skills coach Saul Isaksson-Hurst, who worked with Madueke during the last two summers to hone the attacking skills that persuaded the Blues to pay PSV Eindhoven £35million for the England Under-21 international.
Isaksson-Hurst, whose other professional clients include Brentford’s Rico Henry and Ligue 1 club Reims’ on-loan Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun, said: “Noni is one of the best young forwards in Europe.
“I’ve worked with a lot of top players but his intensity, mentality and desire to be the best is second to none.
“I call him a mentality monster — he’s really driven and has very clear goals and ambitions.”
Madueke’s willingness to do everything he can to become a better player led to his agent contacting Isaksson-Hurst in the summer of 2021.
“He went back to PSV and exploded on to the scene and was linked with a lot of clubs.
“We carried on talking, and then last summer, he actually flew me out to Marbella to do some intense training while he was on holiday.”
Isaksson-Hurst has also worked with young Juventus winger Samuel Iling-Junior, Chelsea wideman Omari Hutchinson and Norwich defender Max Aarons.
He said: “A player comes to me and I look at their position and where they play on the pitch. Then I look at what the game-changing moments are for that player and develop practices where we can develop and master the skills required.
“Noni’s super-strength is cutting in from the right and working with his left foot, a bit like Arjen Robben.
“We worked on a lot of variations of that, but also on how he could cut in using his right foot.
“For a forward player, it’s about assists and goals, what is going to help him break lines and give end product.”
You might expect big clubs like PSV to do such fine tuning themselves, but Isaksson-Hurst, 45, explained: “Some coaches will do ‘extras’ but the same thought process might not go into it.
“I’ve worked with top players and I know how to design practices to get those game outcomes.”
Isaksson-Hurst works on a consultancy basis for Arsenal.
In addition, Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, Wolves, Middlesbrough and Birmingham are among the clubs that use his MyPersonalFootballCoach app to supplement their in-house coaching.
Madueke, 20, has followed former PSV team-mate Cody Gakpo, 23, now at Liverpool, to the Premier League in the current transfer window.
And Isaksson-Hurst said: “Gakpo is a very good player, but for me Noni is right up there and is going to make an immediate impact.
“He has everything. He is technically unbelievable. Physically, he’s a specimen — but most important are his mentality and desire to be the best.”