Keagan Dolly's first season at Montpellier could be considered as a work in progress.
While the club have struggled this season, ending the campaign in lowly 15th place on the French Ligue 1 standings, Dolly is yet to adapt to the French style of football and cement a permanent role in coach Jean-Louis Gasset’s side.
Dolly has played in 12 games since making his long-awaited move away from Mamelodi Sundowns. However, the Bafana Bafana international has only managed five starts and accumulated 445 minutes of football.
In all fairness, Dolly joined Montpellier at a time when they were undergoing a transitional phase due to the change in coach and this has contributed to his uninspiring form.
When one looks at Dolly’s statistics over the course of the season it does not make for the best of reading. According to Opta, the 24-year-old has only managed two shots on target and has a below average shooting accuracy of 33 percent.
He has also failed to rediscover his creative flair which saw him win numerous admirers at Masandawana. Dolly has only created four chances from open play and none have materialised in goals.
Meanwhile, a standout feature of Dolly’s game has always been his passing and he has carried that through into his time in the South of France. The South African winger has an impressive passing accuracy of 78 percent, contributing 167 successful passes out of a possible 215.
Nonetheless, the Johannesburg-born playmaker has also failed to dazzle opponents as he only completed seven dribbles out of a total of 19 attempted dribbles. An alarming statistic of Dolly’s first few games in Ligue 1 is his failure to keep possession. He has been guilty of losing possession 89 times.
Despite Dolly’s uninspiring statistics, it should be noted that due to Montpellier’s struggles they have found themselves on the backfoot on several occasions, forcing Dolly to be more defensive. He has found the going tough especially on the attacking front and that is reaffirmed by his lack of touches in the opposition’s box, where he has only had nine touches. But if one element of his game has improved it is his physicality. Dolly has won 15 duels and only conceded three fouls.
Following a difficult start to life in Europe for Dolly, questions will be asked about his readiness. While his move to Montpellier was earmarked as a mere stepping stone to greater things, Dolly’s dream of playing for some of the world’s biggest clubs will have be put on hold as he looks to establish himself at his club.
Although, his exploits have been nothing short of disappointing, it is still too early to make any judgements on whether he has the talent to succeed and he will need at least one full season before he can talk about any possible moves.
Another contributing factor for Dolly’s lack of immediate success in France is that he is now playing in a league with some of the best players in the world, where the culture and pressures of football is completely different. Perhaps Dolly may consider a loan spell to a less fancied team, a move which has proven highly successful for the likes of Kermit Erasmus and Lebogang Mothiba.
While Montpellier are expected to make wholesale changes during the off season it is unlikely that Dolly’s talents will be disregarded, but it is important for the midfielder to remain strong because under the tutelage of his former mentor Pitso Mosimane, Dolly was given the sufficient foundation and now it is up to him whether he either sinks or floats.