Name: Salim Cisse
Club: Arouca (on loan from Sporting CP)
A relatively rare footballing export from Conakry, Guineans are rarely given a massive amount of hope when it comes to footballing prospects. Other than Kevin Constant’s laboured career at AC Milan and the relative mediocrity of Ibrahima Traore at Stuttgart, chances to get excited are fairly limited. However, at the age of just 21 they may have a game-changer on their hands in Salim Cisse, who can hopefully promote them from footballing obscurity to one of the new wave of exciting African teams that are taking the continent by storm.
Rather than the traditional plucking from some academy by a European scout, Cisse’s move to Europe was more out of necessity than anything else. Leaving his native country in 2011 to join his Dad in Italy after political conflict in Guinea, he was immediately picked up by Serie D team Arezzo in Tuscany. After some impressive work out there in his first season and turning in an impressive goals to game ratio, he must have impressed someone at Portuguese club Academica – the club where he really burst onto the scene. Notching up 8 goals in the league in his first season, Cisse was showing what he can do on a number of fronts, as he supplemented his domestic form with 2 goals and 3 assists in the Europa League, with his goals coming against Atletico Madrid and Hapoel Tel Aviv.
From political insecurity to scoring at the Vincente Calderon, Salim Cisse’s stock was rocketing. Clearly whatever the Academica scout spotted at Arezzo was something truly special, as his performances that he was turning in for the club were nothing short of wonderful considering the relative obscurity that he arrived from. Keen to take advantage of the excellent potential this kid has, domestic legends Sporting Lisbon came in for the Guinean – an offer few would refuse – as they stumped up €300k for him from Academica as the impoverished side from Coimbra made a quick buck from his sale.
After some experimentation between centre-forward and left-wing last season, it is clear where Salim Cisse’s best position is – striker. Whilst adequate on the wing, his target man qualities are where he really shows his best stuff. More than competent at finishing, Cisse’s goalscoring record for a struggling Academica side really speaks for itself, and is a sure bet to put to ball in the net when given some time in the area. Whilst his goals may not have been at consistent intervals, this goalscoring regularity is something that will come with age, and should not yet be of concern.
However, after tagnating in the B team whilst fellow new signing Freddy Montero bashes in the goals in the Portuguese Premier League, Cisse isn’t getting the chances he deserves. Whilst game time in Segunda League is all well and good (and he is keeping up his goalscoring form), he needs some regular game time in the top division if he is going to continue to progress. Premier League side Arouca did take him on in January on loan, but no goals in just seven appearances is concerning for Cisse. Proven that he can perform domestically and in Europe, he would be an good asset to a fairly mediocre top division team who have found themselves playing continental competition (say, for example, the likes of Eintracht Frankfurt or Bordeaux) – if they were willing to place their faith in him.
We’re hoping that this spell in the reserves will not impact on his development too much, as we nor the people of Guinea want to see Salim Cisse become another addition to the catalogue of players who moved to the big club too soon.
Words by Sam Crocker (@sam_crock)