Dele-Bashiru started out at Manchester City, coming through the club’s youth system. His one appearance for the first team came in the League Cup in December 2017 when he came on as a substitute for Phil Foden in the quarter-final against Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium. He joined Watford on a six-year contract in 2019 after he came to the end of his contract in Manchester. Dele-Bashiru played his first league match for Watford at the start of last season when he came on as a substitute in the local derby with Luton Town. A start against Reading followed at the start of October but during the game, he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury which ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign.
When Watford sent Tom Dele-Bashiru off on loan to Reading, in the Championship, it was chiefly because they believed the first team had enough creative players to ensure at least that they could secure 40 points this season to stay up in the Premiership. While Watford continue to struggle in the opening weeks of the Premier League, one of their best options for a fresh perspective in the heart of the midfield, Tom Dele-Bashiru, continues to dazzle opponents on a weekly in the Championship.
Most recently, the 22-year-old scored his third goal of the season in his 11th league appearance; his contributions have helped Reading to 13th position in the EFL Championship.
Let’s take a look at his stats so far this season:
Bashiru’s manager has been using him in different positions so far in the 12 games that he has played for Reading. Bashiru is a versatile midfielder who can play in a defensive as well as an attacking role for the team. He is most effective when he plays in a more attacking role as a wide midfielder or even as the number 10. But with John Swift impressing in the Central Attacking Midfielder position, Bashiru has mostly started on the right side of the midfield. As seen in the heatmap for Bashiru, he has been present throughout different areas in the midfield. He has been a vital part of the Reading midfield, as Bashiru can understand and read the game very well and can control the pace of the attacks they construct.
As the heatmap for Bashiru suggested, he has played in various positions in different games based on the approach of their manager towards the game. If the opposition have a better attack he has used Bashiru in a more defensive role where he stays in his own half and receives more of the ball and can play forward passes to his teammates. He has also played a number of games in the wider midfield position and has played a number of key passes in the final third. Bashiru has not played many balls into the penalty area but has a high expected threat from the limited passes he has attempted into the opposition 18-yard box.
The young midfielder has attempted a total of 17 shots on goal in 12 games. He has a shot on target percentage of 28.57% and most of his shots from inside the penalty area have been on target. Bashiru has scored three goals so far and two of the three have been from positions inside the penalty area. While Bashiru is a threat to the opposition from his passes, he can also cause them a lot of trouble with his direct approach towards goal.
Reading have been playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation this season with Bashiru as their right midfielder. Bashiru has been linking up well with the rest of the three attackers that have started most of the games with him. He has a high expected threat from the passes he has made to Puscas, Swift and Ejaria. He has made the most number of passes to John Swift, who has been Reading’s best player so far. The midfielder has the highest expected threat from the passes he made to his striker, Puscas, which indicates that most of his crosses and through passes have been in dangerous areas which gives Reading an attempt to create a goalscoring opportunity.
It’s still early days though, just 14 games in, but what he has brought to Veljko Paunović’s side is the kind of quality that gives your team something extra.