Name: Vincent Aboubakar
The fact that his age has had to be double- and then triple-checked before writing this piece is almost a testament in itself. With no less than 95 Ligue 1 appearances at the time of writing, it’s really no surprise that there has been so much disbelief and self-doubt that he’s young enough to included on this list, amassing all these appearances in one of Europe’s premier leagues at just 21 years of age. Yet there is absolutely no doubt that this kid is a player of real quality.
Signed from Coton Sport – one of Cameroon and Africa’s best teams and producers of many exports to Europe over the years – Valenciennes were the team who brought him to France, having already made somewhat of a name for himself in his native country. An impressive goals-to-game ratio, Aboubakar had already been included in the squad to go to South Africa for the 2010 world cup as the only domestically-based player, before moving to the French club after the tournament had ended. Whilst not holding the most impressive scoring record during his time at a club who were regularly embroiled in a relegation battle, his talent could not be simply defined by the maths that a number of strikers get reduced to. Now playing at Lorient, after signing with them at the start of this season, Aboubakar’s form has well and truly picked up, scoring just under a goal every two games at the time of writing.
Indeed, this relative veteran has won admirers from all over Europe, with watchers of Ligue 1 frequently pointing to him as one for the future. A deceptively short player, standing at just over 6 feet tall, his powerful style makes him appear far taller. Much like Didier Drogba in some ways, he has a forceful dribbling style, that makes up in power what it lacks in pace, as well as being a real problem for the opposition when it comes to set-pieces with his heading ability.
Indeed, the latter may come in useful on the international stage. With Cameroon’s current crop desperately lacking in creativity, set-pieces may well be the only way that they will score as a team, with Aboubakar the obvious choice to provide that aerial threat. However, with a number of decent strikers and the lack of continuity of their forward selections, he has struggled to hold down a place in the national team, with the likes of Eric Choupo-Moting, Pierre Webo and Yannick N’Djeng all victims of this constant rotation (as well as Samuel Eto’o monthly retirement and coming out of retirement from international football).
The future nevertheless looks very bright for Vincent Aboubakar. A man with a wealth of experience under his belt already, he’ll be hoping that he can use this to help Lorient maintain their Ligue 1 place for another season, and I would imagine you’ll be seeing him at one of the bigger-wigs in France or across Europe in the coming years.
Written by Sam Crocker (@sam_crock)