After the transfer window saw Bayern Munich lose record-breaking striker Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona over the summer, Julian Nagelsmann was tasked with the challenge of finding a way to replace him. The signing of Senegalese star man Sadio Mané was certainly a step in the right direction although many still had question marks over the lack of a ‘traditional number nine’ in the FC Bayern squad. Up steps fringe player Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, an unlikely source of inspiration for Bayern, to lead the way for Julian Nagelsmann’s team.
|Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.|
Why has Choupo-Moting been so effective this season?
Choupo-Moting has started the season in fine form, especially in the Champions League where he bagged his third goal in Europe this week against Inter in just his fourth game. The Cameroonian international has been extremely clinical with his three Champions League goals coming from 1.1 xG and his three Bundesliga goals coming from just 1.2xG compared to positional peers in Men’s Big 5 Leagues, the UCL and the UEL over the last 365 days (fbref). In 13 games, Bayern’s number nine has managed eight goals and three assists with seven of those goals coming in his last six games in all competitions.
Choupo-Moting ranks in the 92nd percentile or higher for non-penalty goals per 90, assists per 90, xA per 90 and dribbles completed per 90. He also ranks in the 89th percentile for touches in the opposition box per 90 and in the 87th for progressive passes per 90. Ranking high in dribbling and assisting, the Cameroonian brings a lot more to the Bayern attack than just goals. His link up play could be the key to unlocking the likes of Sadio Mané and Leroy Sané as well as allowing the brilliance of youngster Musiala to flourish. Given his ability with his back to goal, the 33-year-old is just what Nagelsmann needs as he looks to transition into a new era of Bayern Munich without the supreme talent of Robert Lewandowski.
Nagelsmann is very complimentary about the creative ability of his Cameroonian striker, likening him to more of a number ten than an out and out striker. His presence allows Bayern to build the play both through intricate passing as well as long passes from Neuer to move the team up the pitch.
🗣️ @J__Nagelsmann on Choupo-Moting: “He’s not your typical number 9, and can often be found playing in between. He’s a very talented footballer, more of a number 10, but he can also play up front. We are very happy to have him in our team.” #packmas #TSGFCB pic.twitter.com/7wQUAn78Jj
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) October 21, 2022
Will Choupo-Moting manage to nail down a position in the lineup at Bayern?
The 33-year-old’s rich vein of form is a testament to his patience in waiting for an opportunity and he will not be wanting to drop out of the team now that he has made the number nine position his own. Despite being labelled as a ‘flop’ in England after his time in the Premier League with Stoke City, Choupo-Moting has largely been a success with the majority of his employers. This includes French giants Paris Saint-Germain where he scored the vital goal against Atalanta to send PSG through to the 2020 Champions league semi-final after also having had a hand in the equaliser. Though largely used as a squad player, he has often shown glimpses of quality in big moments and it is no coincidence that he has been part of two of the best teams in Europe in the last few years.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting‘s Bayern career in numbers is really impressive. Halfway through to his 3rd season at the club, he’s been contributing to a goal every 69 minutes. 35 G+A in 71 matches with 2,427 mins played in total.
Efficient player & reliable outlet 🎯
Free deal ✔️ pic.twitter.com/tpu42qQF3W
— Complaxes (@Complaxes) November 2, 2022
With multiple sources reporting that Manchester United hold an interest in the striker, Bayern will be keen to tie him down to a new deal with at least another year in Bavaria on the cards. Sky Sport Germany report that Bayern director Hasan Salihamidžić wants Choupo-Moting to stay beyond the end of his contract in June next year stating “He’s someone who I think belongs here”. The club and manager are delighted with Choupo-Moting’s performances this season but it remains to be seen whether the player would be willing to stay on, especially if reports of Bayern interest in Harry Kane for next summer are, in fact, true.
Julian Nagelsmann will be hoping that his number nine will return after the World Cup break fit and ready to continue firing as he is likely to play for Cameroon at least in their group games. He will be vital to FC Bayern as they look to secure their 11th Bundesliga title in a row, facing unlikely opposition in Union Berlin who currently sit top of the table.