18 Striker FC Basel Switzerland
Cameroon-born Breel Embolo moved to Switzerland with his mother as a child and has become his adopted nation’s most thrilling young football player. He joined the youth set-up at FC Basel in 2010 but didn’t make his first team debut until as recently as March 2014. The next weekend he made his Swiss Super League bow and scored his first senior goal.
He hasn’t looked back.
2015 has been…
Business as usual. Apparent versatility in young players often raises concerns and suspicion but, in shifting to accommodate the more experienced Marc Janko, Embolo has found a secondary role that will do him the world of good as he works towards a future as a modern striker.
He’s often played on the right wing this season despite being more naturally suited to a traditional number nine role, but he’s proved adept at both. England supporters might remember his phenomenal backheel return on a one-two back in September but they might not recall Embolo selling Luke Shaw for a mug shortly afterwards.
He’s got tricks like that in his locker but he’s a very intelligent forward as well. His movement is good and his footwork is arguably his biggest strength. He’s good in the air and very comfortable on the ball, seeming to play at his own pace more often than not. His passing is decent and his vision for a longer pass is impressive, albeit subject to rather spottier execution.
Embolo was summed up by the only goal of the game against Young Boys in October. After defending a set piece in his own box, Embolo showed lightning pace to turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye, eventually being brought down just as he was about to burst into the Young Boys half. After the free kick was taken he played a lovely one-two and scored into the bottom corner from 20 yards. It was his fourth of the season.
Embolo can look languid but he certainly gets about the pitch. When he’s playing up front he works defenders hard and works hard defensively himself, using his speed and physique well. Links with a seemingly endless list of clubs are rooted in his obvious potential. At 18, Embolo is a Swiss champion and, now, a regular international. Having zipped through the youth ranks he made his senior debut in March, scoring his first goal in October.
Embolo is being managed carefully and rightly so. He’s rested every few weeks but is trusted in Basel’s biggest games. He’s started 12 of their 18 matches in the Swiss Super League in 2015/16 so far.
There are areas of his game that Embolo must work on. He can be very rash in the tackle and can count himself lucky not to have been sent off on one or two occasions this year. He also has a bit of a blindspot when it comes to being caught offside, but he’ll overcome that in time. More worrying, if he’s to play regularly on the flank, is that his all-action approach leaves gaps on his wing too often.
With EURO 2016 coming up Embolo has a great chance to further show off his ability. A good display in the summer and Basel might find themselves unable to hold onto him as long as they would have liked.
B Playing well beyond his years and justifying the attention
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