Tuesday morning, New York City FC announced the signing of Algerian striker Mounsef Bakrar from NK Istra 1961 in the Croatian First League. The signing comes much to the delight of NYCFC fans, as the club has long struggled to find an out-in-out replacement for Taty Castellanos at the No 9 position.
Mounsef Bakrar: Productive, adapts quickly
Bakrar, a 6-foot-1-inch striker, operates predominantly through the middle as a No 9, but can also contribute to the attack from both flanks. In 31 matches this season for NK Istra 1961, 18 of which were starts, the Algerian scored eight goals and managed two assists. Those 10 goal contributions are impressive for a 22-year-old, especially considering that Bakrar had to adapt to a new league — the striker joined the Croatian outfit in July 2022 from his hometown club ES Setif in Algeria.
NYCFC coaches and fans alike will be hopeful that Bakrar can replicate some of that form quickly in New York.
A two-footed threat
Bakrar looks to be a versatile forward. For starters, the Algerian is two-footed, with three of his eight goals coming from his left foot, and four from his right. He also scored one header. Six of his goals were from inside the box, two from outside. When you watch the 2022/23 highlight tape complied by Backheeled and The Outfield contributor Justin Egan, you can see that some of his goals were more than simple finishes. Bakrar seems to have not only raw technical ability, but an immense sense of composure.
Mounsef Bakrar by the numbers
Bakrar averaged 1.7 shots per game for NK Istra, as well as 0.7 shots on target per game. When flanked by the creativity of Gabriel Pereira and the technical skills of Talles Magno at NYCFC, fans should expect those numbers to remain consistent or even increase.
Mounsef Bakrar Scouting Report 2022/23 Season
Goal Conversion Rate
Shots on Target/Game
In terms of his off-the-ball ability, Bakrar reads opposing back lines well, and is able to use his pace to get behind the opposition and find promising attacking areas. Notably, he has a relatively low 0.6 offside calls per match, which make for a promising linkup between himself and the deep lying playmakers at NYCFC’s disposal in Alfredo Morales and Keaton Parks.
The most un-NYCFC aspect of Bakrar’s game? He didn’t have a singe yellow card all season.
What Bakrar brings to the table
The Algerian will provide the squad with a fresh, versatile No 9, and try to lay claim to a position that has been filled with stopgap solutions in the first 23 games this season. Fans, however, should be weary of imposing sky-high expectations on the Algerian from the start.
Yes, Bakrar is a promising young finisher with solid upside, but he is still raw, and will take time to adjust to the physicality of the MLS.
Nevertheless, for a rumored $2 million transfer fee, it’s not a bad bit of business from NYCFC. Not bad at all.