Harry De Cosemo on the latest Cameroon hotshot exciting the Nou Camp...
The 60-second story
Born in Douala, Cameroon, Dongou moved to Barça’s esteemed La Masia academy in 2008, aged just 13. A pacy, strong and technically gifted striker, the young man predictably dubbed The New Eto’o is approaching the first team set-up at a perfect time for the Catalan club. Although he's not featured for Tata Martino's first team yet, the youngster has shown his potential by netting twice in a 7-0 thumping of Valerenga in pre-season, and then again against Santos. Since his debut for the B side aged only 16 in January 2012, he's netted seven Segunda division goals.
- Età: 18
- Ruolo: Attaccante
- Club: Barcelona B; 51 presenze, 7 gol
- Nazionale: Camerun U20; 4 gare, 2 gol
Why you need to know him
Dongou was the joint-leading scorer in the first edition of the NextGen Series in 2011/12, bagging seven goals despite Barça's quarter-final exit at the hands of Ajax. Last year he also made his debut for Cameroon's U20s, and has since scored two goals in four games for the Indomitable Lions' youngsters. On this evidence he may well be the No.9 ready to fill the void left by Zlatan Ibrahimovic over three years ago.
Versatility. Dongou can play in any position along the front three, and similarly to his countryman Eto’o, he's threatening from all angles. He's stockier than his compatriot, though, while his pace and confidence to run at defenders has been seen with regularity in the Segunda since his breakthrough.
If there's any criticism of this young striker, it's perhaps his selfish streak. Although that's not always a bad thing in a striker, should he break into the first team any time soon the Cameroonian may have to curb that instinct to suit the needs of Messi & Co. Bigger names, including Eto’o, have fallen in battle with the Argentine genius, and although it may be some time until they go head-to-head, Dongou would be well advised to realise that there's no 'I' in team (but there is in Messi...). Meanwhile, his goalscoring record isn't notable either, but an irregular splutter of starts doesn't help.
Spanish football expert Graham Hunter: “I’m not going to say he’ll be better than Messi, but he made far more of an impact on me than Messi did as a 16-year-old. He’s a completely different player, a striker whose physical shape is going to be a little bit like Romario, but his attitude and work ethic is going to be a little bit like Eto’o. If you get a laboratory and put those two players together, you’d probably take the product...”
Did you know?
Dongou alerted Barcelona when impressing at the Samuel Eto’o Foundation five years ago, as was the case with his Barcelona B team-mate, defender Frank Bagnack. The foundation was set up by Eto'o while still a player at the Nou Camp in 2006 as a non-profit organisation in West Africa. It has contacts in Douala, Barcelona and Madrid, home to Barça’s biggest rivals and another of Eto’o’s former clubs. However, the agreement stands between the club and their former star’s set-up, with Barça free to choose the best players for their esteemed youth system.
What happens next?
Dongou’s contract with the Spanish champions runs out next summer, and they'll be desperate to keep hold of their young prodigy. With rave reviews from experts and all of the attributes needed in the modern-day striker, the new kid on the block is well known to many top scouts. Unsurprisingly he's already been linked with Manchester City, with former Barça director of football Txiki Begiristain now at the Etihad Stadium.
Shooting 9 • Passing 6 • Heading 7 • Tackling 4 • Pace 9 • Work-rate 7 • Crossing 6 • Creativity 5 • Dribbling 7