Emanuel Emegha (Strasbourg), Patrick Vieira’s nice move in Brest

We will not dare announce loud and clear that it is finally launched, during a season which offers few guarantees from one match to the next in Strasbourg, but Emanuel Emegha is gradually starting to find his rhythm in his new club. Unknown to the general French public when he arrived this summer, the former Sturm Graz (Austrian D1) striker has since constantly been evaluated based on the price of his transfer. With a weight of twelve million euros and a status as the second most expensive player in the history of Racing (behind Abakar Sylla, €20 million), the young man was eagerly awaited in Alsace where patience is a virtue that is cultivates less since the arrival of BlueCo, and its millions, at the club.

A pivotal role that he has difficulty understanding

At 20 years old and with limited high-level experience, Emegha was responsible for having to somehow compensate for the statistical loss of Habib Diallo, author of 20 goals in Ligue 1 last season and transferred to Al-Shabab (Saudi Arabia). Not easy. If he scored at Meinau in his second match, against Toulouse (2-0), the Batavian Espoirs international did not manage to follow up. On the contrary, he showed outing after outing a sometimes worrying waste in front of goal and difficulties in the game.

His profile is that of a depth player but Patrick Vieira needs him in another register. He was most often used as a pivot, a role that he struggled to embrace despite his imposing size (1.95 m). His performance in Reims (1-2), last Friday, where he did not find the target on one of the rare Alsatian occasions, alone against Yehvann Diouf, had annoyed the Strasbourg supporters present in the stands. But the young man has guts. As soon as the match ended, he went to see them to tell them that he was not hiding and to ask for time.

Emanuel Emegha, taken by Joseph Okumu, Friday, during Strasbourg’s defeat in Reims (1-2). (B. Papon/The Team)

“I asked him to be more inside and to be in support, with Kévin (Gameiro), of Lebo when we had the ball”

Strasbourg coach Patrick Vieira on Emanuel Emegha

At the Francis-Le Blé stadium, Vieira had decided to rotate, during a week with three matches, and Emegha took his place on the bench. But he came on earlier than expected, in the 36th minute, to compensate for Ismaël Doukouré’s exit due to injury. With this change, the Alsatian coach refocused Habib Diarra and placed the Dutchman in the left lane in a hybrid role. He was instructed to cover this side when Brest had the ball but immediately offer a solution deep in the middle when recovering. And it was Lebo Mothiba who played the pivots. “Emanuel is not a real winger. I asked him to be more inside and to be in support, with Kévin (Gameiro), of Lebo when we had the ball,” explains his coach who, through this reshuffle, rebalanced the balance of power with the Stade Brestois.

Emegha could have scored on his first ball but he missed his move by trying to get around his compatriot Marco Bizot (37th). More pressing, looking for the slightest space, the player trained at Sparta Rotterdam represented a constant danger for the Brest upper defense as the minutes ticked by. And the last quarter of an hour was finally his. After a header over (79th), a warning sign, he followed Moïse Sahi Dion in a three-on-two move and scored a welcome goal from close range (80th). His third with the RCSA, the second in three matches after that against OM (1-1, November 25). He should return to the starting lineup on Sunday against Le Havre (3 p.m.). His performance will still be scrutinized. Its performance too.


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