Fourth striker from Reims less than a year ago, Hugo Ekitike completely changes dimension by landing in the club of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé. Good career choice, or decision too risky?
Vejle, Denmark, 200 kilometers west of Copenhagen. On May 14, 2021, no pressure for Vejle-Kolding: the local club will remain in D1. Facing Odense, a certain Ekitike opened the scoring in the thirteenth minute. His third goal in eleven games, since the start of his loan in January (Ekitike had previously played 86 minutes, in L1). July 15, 427 days later. Hugo Ekitike has just been loaned with a compulsory purchase option, which should amount to more than 30 million euros, to Paris Saint-Germain from Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé. The always highly scrutinized Transfermarkt barely valued him at one million euros, just 427 days ago.
In the series “Football can go fast” , Hugo Ekitike has just gone from neutral to fifth gear in a flash. At the start of last season, the most expensive palindrome in France was indeed the fourth striker in the Reims hierarchy (behind players like El Bilal Touré, Kaj Sierhuis, Mitchell van Bergen, Anastásios Dónis or Fraser Hornby) in an orphan sector of Boulaye Dia (gone to Villarreal) and subject to major questions. However, no need to take out the checkbook for Jean-Pierre Caillot and Mathieu Lacour: the number 1 striker was in front of their eyes. With unshakable self-confidence and a certain amount of nerve, Ekitike has gradually become the number 1 pyrotechnician at the Stade de Reims.
Finally, despite an absence of several weeks at the start of the year for a hamstring injury (24 games played, 15 starts), Ekitike scored 23.3% of Reims’ goals (10/43) by becoming the youngest player to slam ten pawns in the elite since Francis Meano (Reims legend, by the way) in 1949-1950. We must add to this record three assists, a fairly impressive composure for his age when it comes to concluding and a whole technical palette. The little youngster from Cormontreuil, his first club in the Reims suburbs, ended up completely twisting European football. Starting with Newcastle, newly rich and ready to splurge since January (but who leaves empty-handed, and certainly very frustrated).
Paris Saint-Germain is pleased to announce the arrival of Hugo Ekitiké from Stade de Reims. The French striker is on loan, with an option to buy, until the end of the season. ??#WelcomeHugo
— Paris Saint Germain (@PSG_inside) July 16, 2022
Ekitike allows Reims to more than double its record sale, which so far amounted to thirteen million euros (Axel Disasi, in Monaco). But looking at the table of the most expensive transfers from Reims is enough to sum up the trajectory of the Champagne club: unable to release a player trained at the club ten years ago, Lucas Deaux having long been the only standard, the red and white club has everything (re)built. A work illustrated by two things: the Raymond-Kopa life center, a formidable tool in Reims, and the sales recorded over the past six years (Aissa Mandi, Jordan Siebatcheu, Rémi Oudin, Axel Disasi and therefore Hugo Ekitike). Players trained or arrived in post-training in the Marne, new symbols of Reims training. A fan of player trading, will the Stade de Reims be able to move up the French hierarchy thanks to the record sale of Ekitike? This is his challenge.
What does Kalimuendo think?
Challenge is the word that also corresponds to the new PSG striker. The challenge of proving that Paris has not (yet) overpaid a player. The challenge of showing that it did not flare up a year before the soufflé fell. The challenge of reassuring about injuries that worry some. The challenge of validating a very strong choice of club, when others would have, at twenty and not even 30 L1 matches in their legs, preferred to return for a second season. The challenge of being patient, his playing time will not necessarily be as high as at Auguste-Delaune. The challenge to prove, and not go on loan after a year. The inner challenge of keeping his feet on the ground: sure (sometimes too much, according to some) of his qualities, Ekitike could quickly burn his wings. The challenge of controlling his emotions (two red cards for him in 2021-2022). “I consider myself ready for anything” he promised in The Team, in May. In any case, staying in Ligue 1 will give him more benchmarks and rubbing shoulders with the incredible Parisian locker room on a daily basis will only be beneficial. It is also up to him, in this special year of the World Cup, to know how to seize his chance as he brilliantly knew how to do in Reims.
As for PSG, what does this transfer (the second most expensive in history between French clubs, behind Kylian Mbappé’s 180 million) mean? First of all there is something to congratulate Luis Campos and the Parisian club for keeping one of the most promising players of his generation in France. As the engine of the French championship, PSG must place itself as often as possible on the great potential of the L1. But what is going on in the head of Arnaud Kalimuendo, for example, pushed out to bail out the coffers and to buy a promising young player for more than 30 million euros? It remains to be seen, too, where Ekitike will be in the hierarchy behind Mbappé. “I am a fairly complete playerhe described, always for The Team. I have stamina, I’m technical, and I have a very good understanding of the game. I have to improve in all areas. But I want to get closer to perfection, to touch it, why not. I’m not afraid of anything. » Velje is far. Paris is now.
By Timothé Crepin