Cristiano Ronaldo has all but left Manchester United following his turbulent interview with Piers Morgan. Regardless of his departure, United had already been lacking firepower up front.
The Peoples Person has already analysed what the promising young striking stars in LOSC Lille’s Jonathan David, Lorient’s Terem Moffi, and Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko could offer to the team. But, considering Ronaldo’s imminent removal from Erik ten Hag’s dressing room, a different profile of striker could now be sought.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is a name familiar with United fans after his brace against the club during the striker’s time with Stoke City. After a rather undistinguished stay in the Premier League, the Cameroon international has gone on to feature for some European giants.
Two Ligue 1 and two Bundesliga titles with Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern München has awarded Choupo-Moting with an unexpectedly illustrious CV.
At 33 years of age, the centre forward has seemingly become a late bloomer in terms of prolificness in front of goal. He has scored 11 goals in 16 matches for Munich this season.
Although this age profile is something which United fans have been desperate for the club to steer away from, Ronaldo’s sacking leaves Ten Hag with a lack of senior figures and experienced, cultured, matured players in his team.
Choupo-Moting could supplement this gap and, given his stellar form, contribute much more to the side than Ronaldo.
If you have seen any of his goals this season, you will recognise that his finishing is at a ridiculously accurate and ruthless level this year. The 33-year-old is currently sitting at a 0.32 shot conversion rate. This places him in the 99th percentile amongst fellow strikers in Europe, and 0.05 above Erling Haaland.
Choupo-Moting’s clinical finishing is further highlighted by the 9 goals scored in the Bundesliga and Champions League coming from a 4.5 xG. He is literally scoring twice as many as he should be – he is simply at a world-class moment in his career.
His influence on the game does not only come from his lethal right foot. Choupo-Moting affects successful build-up play 0.54 times per game (goal-creating action), placing him in the 96th percentile. Alongside 1.52 key passes per 90 minutes, the striker enjoys being involved in his team’s dominant attacking performances.
Something often associated with Ten Hag’s desired forward line is dynamism. If you thought Choupo-Moting were simply a bullyish, physical, goal-poaching target man, then the striker has proven you wrong. The 6”3 man completes 1.52 dribbles per game, putting him into 87th percentile – unpredictable, direct, and dynamic.
His work-rate must be admired too. Intrinsic to United and Ten Hag’s philosophies, Choupo-Moting defends from the front. Averaging 1.16 successful tackles per 90, the no. 9 is one of the elite centre forwards in Europe in terms of pressurising the opposition defence (99th percentile).
Although not a “showbiz” name, Choupo-Moting’s signing in January could be shrewd business by the United hierarchy. With Ronaldo-Gate considered, it is now imperative that the club buy a new striker in the upcoming winter transfer window. Ten Hag is left with the unfit Anthony Martial as his only true striking option.
As Choupo-Moting’s current contract expires in June 2023 and given the Cameroon international’s older age, chief executive Richard Arnold and director of football John Murtough could agree a cheap deal with the tough negotiating Munich to appease Glazernomics. And considering the striker’s €67,000 weekly wage, the budget would not be exceeded in this regard either.
United had to fill a Ronaldo-shaped hole even before Ronaldo’s now-expected departure. Choupo-Moting, although not fitting with Ten Hag’s target age profile, could be the high-scoring, clinical, and experienced antidote to Old Trafford’s goal-shy season.
Cameroon will face Switzerland on Thursday at 11am CET as part of their opening Group G fixture in the 2022 Qatar World Cup.