David Brown takes a look at Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar, who'll be gunning for goals in Brazil...
The 60-second story
A fantastic season at FC Lorient has put Vincent Aboubakar well and truly on the European football radar, as he is set to play in his second World Cup at the tender age of 22. After an indifferent spell at relegation battling Valenciennes, Aboubakar has this season finally started to make the waves that many European football fans had been anticipating.
His career began at Cotonsport Garoua where he quickly became the star of his hometown side, scoring seven goals in 15 games during his breakthrough season at the age of 18. His performances didn’t escape the attention of Cameroon manager Paul Le Guen, who called up the youngster to Cameroon’s 2010 World Cup squad, where he made two appearances. With many clubs pursuing him, including Tottenham Hotspur, the powerful striker eventually earned himself a move to Ligue 1 side Valenciennes.
- Date of Birth: 22nd January 1992
- Place of Birth: Yaounde, Cameroon
- Position: Striker
- Height: 6ft ½in
- Former Clubs: Cotonsport Garoua, Valenciennes
- Current Club: Lorient, Apps 36, Goals 16
- Country: Cameroon, Apps 22, Goals 2
This is where his development as an emerging superstar somewhat stalled, as he was unable to find his feet in a team who were also struggling themselves. With only nine goals in three Ligue 1 seasons his composure in front of goal had deserted him, and Valenciennes chose not to renew his contract.
FC Lorient took a gamble on Aboubakar, and manager Christian Gourcuff’s decision to sign him on a free transfer is now looking like an inspired one. Finishing as Ligue 1’s joint second top scorer and contributing to nearly 50% of his team’s goals, be it through goals or assists, Aboubakar is certainly an emerging young talent, with his performances earning him a place in Cameroon’s World Cup squad.
Why you need to know him
Undoubtedly one of the stand out performers in Ligue 1 this season, Aboubakar’s goals led Lorient to an impressive eighth place finish. He has incredible athleticism, often overpowering defenders, but also has the technical ability to match. Intelligent hold up play and neat footwork compliment his natural strength, and he is more than capable in front of goal.
With the 22-year-old’s progress being closely monitored over the last few years, his impact this season is unlikely to go unnoticed, with a number of Premier League teams waiting in the wings and keen to lure this striker who is perfectly suited to the English league.
Technical ability combined with his unquestionable athleticism and composure in front of goal, Aboubakar has all the attributes of a complete striker, and is a real handful for defenders. Despite his fairly diminutive stature at only 184cm, his power makes him appear far taller and his strength means that he is an intimidating presence. The young striker also boasts impressive footwork, often embarrassing opposition defenders with his close control and pacey dribbling. Despite having the capabilities to operate as a lone frontman, this season has seen him form a successful partnership with Jeremie Aliadiere, demonstrating clever link-up play and great awareness.
Despite Aboubakar’s commanding presence and his natural power, his hold up play could be significantly improved. He brings other players into the game well through lay-offs and quick passes, but he is unable to hold onto the ball for too long. His work rate also leaves a lot to be desired, with him displaying very little in terms of defensive contribution this season. Whilst it would be unfair to call him lazy, it seems that once his team are no longer in possession he does not see it as his responsibility to track back and put challenges in.
"Confidence is important for Vincent, he's someone who needs to feel that he's supported," said Lorient manager Christian Gourcuff. "I also think the Lorient style of play suits him because he's an excellent footballer and he's getting the right kind of service here."
Did you know?
When Aboubakar was selected for Cameroon’s 2010 World Cup squad he was the only player to be playing his football in his home country. Manager Paul Le Guen had heard about this emerging superstar and travelled back to Cameroon to study his progress. Despite other Cameroonian strikers plying their trade in some of Europe’s biggest leagues, Le Guen selected a young Aboubakar who was playing for Cotonsport Garoua at the time.
What happens next?
There is likely to be a lot of interest this summer with a number of clubs on standby. A good performance at the World Cup could earn Aboubakar a big move, with Premier League trio Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City and Newcastle United having previously been linked to the striker.
Despite possible transfer rumours, Aboubakar still has two years remaining on his current contract at Lorient and he recently expressed his appreciation towards what the club and the manager Christian Gourcuff have done for him “I owe him an awful lot, and the team too”. Gourcuff’s departure could influence Aboubakar’s future however, and if a big team comes in it will be hard to turn down.
Shooting 7 • Heading 6 • Passing 5 • Tackling 4 • Pace 7 • Dribbling 6 • Creativity 6 • Work-rate 6