After arriving at Vitesse Arnhem in 2011, Wilfried Bony has burst onto the scene, bringing goals and excitement to the Vitesse fans. The striker from Cote d’Ivoire has certainly become a hit in Dutch football, so you can understand how he had a whole host of other clubs following him this summer, after which Swansea City were able to secure his signature.
Wilfried Bony started his professional career with Ivorian club Issia Wazi. As an 18-year-old in the 2006/07 campaign he finished as the top scorer in the Ivorian Ligue 1. Bony’s impressive performances for Issia Wazi caught the attention of GFK Pro Football Management who appointed Francis Gilbert Kacou as his agent. GFK has been instrumental in helping African players join European clubs. It was through his contract with the management agency that Bony earned a trial with Premier League side, Liverpool; unfortunately for the player, the English side didn’t follow up with a permanent contract.
With Gilbert Kacou’s help, Bony did get a move into Europe, joining the most successful Czech club, AC Sparta Prague. He initially played with the reserve side in the Bohemian Premier League (third tier of Czech football). His performances there impressed the management, which also earned him the nickname ‘Bonno’, and Wilfried was promoted into the first team. He made 31 appearances in his debut season with the first team, scoring 9 goals as Sparta Prague won their 35th League title (now known as the Gambrinus Liga). The following campaign (2009/10), Wilfried Bony made 14 appearances scoring 10 goals in the 2010/11 Gambrinus Liga; the Ivorian scored 7 other goals in Europe that season before a move to the Eredivsie materialised.
In January 2011, Bony signed for Dutch Eredivisie club Vitesse Arnhem, scoring on his debut. He went on to score 18 league goals the following season, the clubs highest goalscorer. It was the 2012/13 season where he really announced himself on the Dutch stage, scoring some vital goals against the likes of Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord and Heerenveen. Vitesse missed his presence during the African Cup of Nations, but when he returned he went on another scoring spree, bagging 15 goals in 10 consecutive games. He finished the season with 31 goals in just 30 games, becoming one of the most prolific strikers in Europe. He also scored two hat-tricks during the course of the campaign, a feat he hadn’t achieved earlier in his career.
Czech Republic considered calling up Wilfried Bony to their national team, but Ivory Coast were adamant not to lose a rising star, naming him in the African Cup of Nations qualifying squad. He has been capped 20 times for Ivory Coast, scoring 8 goals including appearances in the 2012 African Cup of Nations.
Style, Strengths & Weaknesses
Bony is the dictionary definition of a clinical finisher. He has incredible composure in front of goal, including the ability to take well placed penalties. His finishing is sublime, he very rarely spares any one on one opportunities against the goalkeeper that he creates for himself, with his incredible speed and strength. He often beats the offside trap to find himself in goal-scoring opportunities.
His aerial prowess brings him a lot of his goals in the Dutch league, being quite tall at 6’0″, coupled with a huge leap and incredibly strong neck muscles, not many defenders can deal with Bony in the air. Also, with a element of coolness about him and his play, which makes him even more composed in front of goal.
Away from the goalscoring side of things, Bony also uses his strength to hold the ball up and bring the likes of Marco Van Ginkel and Renato Ibarra into play, who, when given the chance, are very unselfish in creating plenty of chances for the Ivorian striker. Bony often doesn’t get enough credit for his technical ability, much like the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Didier Drogba. He’s a big strong striker, yet uses his strength really effectively. However, people often don’t see that he’s not just your typical target man, his technical ability in a lot of different areas are exceptional.
Much like the aforementioned Lukaku and Drogba, Bony is one of the strongest strikers around, which helps him in plenty of situations, from beating players to hold up play. He knows how to lead the line effectively and somewhat adds a bit of technical ability to your big target man type of player.
Bony is your typical ‘fox in the box’ type of striker, he always makes a nuisance of himself in the final third; scoring lots of goals from close range and a lot of goals from corners. He’s a defenders nightmare to try and mark. Added to that, he has an element of flair to his play, he can use his strength and pace to beat defenders, but has also scored goals from outside of the box. He was the ideal candidate to lead the line for Vitesse, who without his goals would not have secured a place in the Europa League after finishing 4th in the Eredivisie.
“He does have the decisive actions. That is simply his quality. It is also the art for the rest to accept that. Moreover, he forces a lot of respect from the opponent. Barcelona have Messi, we have Bony”
—Fred Rutten, ex-Vitesse manager
“He has shown his talent and he is consistent. I can say he is currently one of the best centre forwards in Europe. Wilfried knows how to hit goals and he nets them even with the smallest chances.”
—Gervinho, Ivory Coast team-mate