Hugo Ekitike, Reims’ prodigious young striker
Ekitiké joined PSG on loan from Reims at the start of the season having been the top scoring teenager across Europe’s five major leagues per UEFA coefficient last season.
While he hasn’t quite tallied the 10 strikes of last term, three goals and four assists from 24 games – only 11 of them starts – has been a respectable return for a player who has to share playing time with a certain Kylian Mbappé.
A hometown boy, Ekitiké was born in Reims to parents of Cameroonian extraction in June 2002, when the club were yoyoing between the second and third tiers of French football, and he joined the club’s fabled academy ranks the summer of his 11th birthday.
Ekitiké raced through the age group teams at the Stade Auguste-Delaune and plundered five goals in 12 fourth-tier games for Reims’ reserves at the age of 17. He then spent the second half of the following season on loan in Denmark with Vejle BK; another step up he took in his stride with three goals in 11 games playing against senior professionals for the first time.
He matured into a strapping 6’3″ forward during this period – albeit one who is yet to fully fill out at 20 – and there was an air of inevitability about his promotion to Reims’ first team and subsequent move to PSG.
Style of play:
Ekitiké has the height to strike fear into many an opposition centre-back, but his build-up play also deserves recognition. Ekitiké has the technique and ball control often associated with far smaller players – a result of his late growth-spurt perhaps – and is in the 98th percentile league-wide for interceptions, which is testament to his work ethic.
Ekitiké was handed his PSG debut on the opening day of the season, replacing Pablo Sarabia late on in a 5-0 win over Clermont Foot 63, but with Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. dominating game time in the final third, it wasn’t until November that Ekitiké got off the mark.
When he did, it was worth the wait, Ekitiké scoring one and assisting another as PSG beat AJ Auxerre 5-0 in Round 15. He enjoyed his best spell over the winter period, hitting another two against RC Lens and Angers SCO.
Watch: Highlights of PSG’s 5-0 win over Auxerre
What they said:
“No, I know why I came here. Of course, when you arrive at a club like this, there are a lot of expectations. I play in a position where I’ll always be questioned, especially because I came with a big transfer fee. I have to accept that and I do.”
– Ekitiké on speculation he could leave PSG after his deal being made permanent.
“My favourite player when I was younger was Kossi Agassa. He was impressive, he was the first player whose first name I remembered at the stadium! I always remember Jordy Siebatcheu’s goal against PSG in 2015 and his celebration with us youth players who were in the stands.”
– Ekitike on his early influences at Reims.