22 Striker Porto Cameroon
2014 has been...
A continuation of Vincent Aboubakar’s impressive 2013/14 season. The Cameroon striker looks better and smarter than ever and was rewarded in the summer with a place in the Indomitable Lions’ World Cup squad and a move to FC Porto.
Such was his form for Ligue 1 outfit Lorient that Portugal represents something of a sideways step and one has to wonder about the deal itself. Porto reportedly paid €3m for 30% ownership of the player and tied him to a four-year contract with a release clause at €50m. Nevertheless, the alternatives – the most concrete being Hull City in the Premier League – might not have been much better for his development as a player.
Aboubakar’s World Cup didn’t really go to plan. Cameroon were poor and were too reliant on him to find a rich seam and fire them through a dastardly group. The circumstances were hardly ideal and he wasn’t able to impose himself, but he didn’t let himself down either. Four years into a fledgling international career, the 22-year-old is establishing himself in the famous green shirt.
Prior to his move he was doing very well in the distinctive colours of Lorient too. He boasts lovely footwork and fantastic touch, as well as inventive and instinctive shot selection including the all-important dink over the goalkeeper. He’s fast enough to expose flat defences and get in behind, and he’s quick to get the ball under control and turn on the pace to go past a man, often on long solo runs where he can’t be dispossessed.
That strength is a vital component of the Cameroonian’s game. He’s decent in the air and holds the ball up well, a real threat who warrants the attention of a couple of opponents almost constantly. He ended Lorient’s 2013/14 season with 16 Ligue 1 goals to his name and hit the ground running this year before sealing his switch to the Iberian peninsula. Happily he’s become a player for when needs must, scoring crucial goals at important moments. Just ask Montpellier.
It’s all a far cry from Aboubakar’s struggles at Valenciennes, the club he was playing for when he first entered this list. It was clear that he had to move on from VAFC to find a purple patch, but the truth is that natural attributes combined with a professional and hard-working attitude took him a long way after joining Lorient and he hasn’t looked back.
As with so many players of Aboubakar’s age it is consistency that represents the biggest area of improvement for him in the next year, but another is his ability to flick the ball on when it’s played forward to him in the air. The aforementioned hold-up play is good but even a marginal improvement in his variety of options in that situation would really add something to a player who’s starting to look the business.
The unsaid must now be said, however: Aboubakar has been used extremely sparingly by Porto coach Julen Lopetegui so far. At the time of writing he’s yet to start a game in the league for his new club, but he is beginning to take his chances as a substitute. It goes without saying that he needs to continue to do so and eventually force his way into the reckoning for the first eleven. He faces fierce competition from Jackson Martinez for the right to be the focal point, but his time will come.
Again, it’s all about consistency. Aboubakar has everything one could possibly ask for in a 22-year-old target striker, he just doesn’t have the experience to deploy it all at once, all the time. He’s going to give an awful lot of defenders the heebie-jeebies in the meantime.
"Brought in to anticipate Jackson's inevitable departure (next summer at the latest) and has already started helping himself to goals off the bench. Physically imposing yet has a decisive turn of pace. Another shrewd signing from Porto." - Ben Shave
"Vincent Aboubakar helped himself to 16 goals during the 2013/14 Ligue 1 season, with a shot conversion rate of 22.5% (a better rate than Zlatan (20.3%) and Cavani (20.8%))." - OptaJoe
C Plenty to prove in a new league
For the best range of Adidas Originals Trainers, head over to Scotts