(Ruy Rebollo/The Intermission)
Although this 2022/2023 summer transfer window has been quiet compared to last year for Paris Saint Germain, they have still brought in some potential key players for their future. Unlike last year where the big names of Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and Achraf Hakimi were the main focus, this summer is about building for the future.
One of these arrivals is 20-year-old French striker Hugo Ekitike from Stade de Reims on a year loan deal that could be made permanent for upwards of 35 million Euros. As the striker only has 25 games in the French first tier under his belt, it is understandable that he has gone under the radar to many, and even confused some as to why such a large price tag has come with someone so inexperienced.
Hugo Ekitike has been on the radar of clubs such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Newcastle since last winter, the Frenchman’s performances in Denmark and France especially, have been praised for how few chances he has been given.
In the 2020/2021 season, Stade de Reims had four starting center forwards and Ekitike’s name was at the bottom of that list at only 18 years old and barely any professional experience. Thus, after playing only twice he got loaned to Danish club Vejle Boldklub where he would only play eight matches but still net three times and assist twice.
Although that spell was short-lived, Reims saw something special in the Frenchmen after the pre-season tour he had in the summer of 2021/2022. His performances were so influential that he went from fourth or fifth in the pecking order for their striker to a starting role.
His coach at Reims, ex-Barcelona midfielder, Oscar Garcia spoke to Sky Sports about Ekitike, "From pre-season, we saw that he has a lot of the qualities required to become a top striker. Technically he is so good. He is fast. He has to develop a little bit more physically but he is a player who, for me, can play for a top club."
Garcia was not wrong whatsoever, in the 2021/2022 season, Ekitike was planned for a starting role and played in 25 games in Ligue 1, impressing more than just the Reims coaching staff. At 6’2” at only 20 years of age, with impressive footwork and quick agility, Ekitike had an impressive season nonetheless.
Ekitike ranked fifth behind the likes of Wissam Ben Yedder, Moussa Dembele and Kylian Mbappe for best goals per 90 minutes averaging a 0.71 ratio this season. Considering PSG’s star-boy averaged a 0.83 per 90, it is quite an impressive stat in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
So, after getting 10 goals and 4 assists in 25 matches while having an injury that ruled him out for the majority of the season, Ekitike grabbed enough attention to get that big move Garcia had predicted.
As PSG offloaded Angel Di Maria to Juventus this summer and are reportedly looking at offers for Mauro Icardi, Ekitike may find himself grabbing some minutes alongside the greats in Paris this season. Playing with another young French striker in Mbappe, Ekitike will definitely learn how to perfect his composure and gain some much-needed experience to flourish in France’s top club.
The transfer may come with a hefty price tag, but if PSG wanted him over other offers that were circulating, clearly they see another Mbappe situation starting to stir up. Ekitike is certainly a one to watch for the Parisians this fall but more importantly may be a future star for the coming years, an Ekitike-Mbappe partnership may be the future if plans pan out…