The critical importance of having a great striker certainly cannot be understated in professional soccer. League leading goal scorer Diego Costa of Chelsea has the team perched well atop the English Premier League with his 9 goals. But when it comes to Ligue 1 of France, the names that most fans are familiar with include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Radamel Falcao, and Edinson Cavani. But in the early goings of this season, someone different is bagging all the goals and leading his team to the top of Ligue 1: Andre-Pierre Gignac, also known as Dede amongst his teammates.
Gignac isn’t the type of superstar you’d be likely to hear of. His career has largely been that of those second tier strikers who often lurk in the shadows at mid-table clubs and occasionally get an international call up or two when the main man is out injured. But in all likelihood these players have decent careers and then disappear from memory as soon as they retire.
But while Gignac’s career has began that way, he is starting to hit his stride at the ripe old age of 28, which is often the beginnings of the peak years for most footballers. After a solid season last year in which he netted 22 goals Gignac has now taken his game to new heights with 10 goals through just 11 games. That mark currently stands as a goal higher than the dynamic PSG duo Ibrahimovic and Cavani combined!
But what’s even more impressive about the hot streak is that it has led Marseille to a first place standing in Ligue 1, 4 points ahead of big money spenders PSG, the French league’s reigning champion. While few predictions will have even considered the idea of PSG losing this title given their squad of superstar players, even fewer would have predicted Marseille do be doing so well, especially considering their inability to even claim a Europa League position last season when they finished 6th.
However, owning a top striker can change that, which is exactly the type of player that Gignac has become. At a goal-to-game ratio of nearly 1, he is top class and in top form. The France national team has been quick to notice, and gave Gignac a call up in the recent international friendly matches. Given a start against Armenia, he performed exceptionally well, earning 2 assists and scoring a penalty. Often overlooked by France in favor of more established stars at major clubs (like Olivier Giroud, Kareem Benzema, and Loic Remy), Gignac earned his chance and proved his worth. It will be interesting to see if the player becomes a larger part of his national team should his great play continue, especially given the EURO 2016 hosted by France not too far off in the future.
But for now we must wait and see if Andre-Pierre Gignac can continue his free-scoring ways and lead Marseille to a title in Ligue 1. A major test will take place November 9th when Marseille faces PSG away, who remain undefeated despite their 6 draws. Something tells me that Gignac might just be the hero on the day, and that perhaps his club will be listening from offers for the star striker from PSG and other big spenders by the season’s end…