Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Rising Star at Olympique de Marseille

Didier Ovono: No, I’m not surprised. I know the player and the man. Like all attackers, he needed time to adapt. Unfortunately, the climate and the Marseille context did not allow him to have this time at the start. When he found his bearings, he understood how it worked and he felt like a fish in water.

At the beginning of September, he was whistled by the public at the Stade Vélodrome…

DO: I have known Pierre-Emerick since he was 18 years old. I saw it blossom. You don’t become the best African player playing in the Bundesliga by chance (he played from 2013 to January 2018 in Dortmund). To do this, you need to have some serious mental resources. I knew it was going to go well in Marseille. It’s no coincidence that he played for Barcelona or Arsenal in the past.

You worked with him in the Gabonese selection from 2009 to 2019. What type of player is he inside a locker room?

DO: Pierre-Emerick gets involved when he joins a locker room. He always goes towards people because that’s his nature. On the other hand, he is not the type of player who barks at his teammates or organizes meetings. He is more of a leader on the field. In front of goal, I remember a player who was so unpredictable. At the end of training with the selection, he could score in improbable positions. In my goal, I said to myself: ‘How could he do that?’

Pierre-Emerick is not far from the greatest at OM

What are the reasons for his redemption after his complicated season at Chelsea?

DO: In this profession, the more you are criticized, the more you want to show that you did not succeed by chance. You can’t be the number one striker at Dortmund or Arsenal and not succeed at Marseille, that’s not possible. At OM, Pierre-Emerick proved that he was not an imposture.

By scoring twelve goals this season in Europe (2 in the 3rd round of C1 and 10 in C3), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang became the top African scorer in history in a C3 campaign (the record was previously held by Cédric Bakambu in 2015-16 with Villarreal – 9 goals). But also, it is the first time since 1998 that a player from a French club has scored more than ten goals in a European season…

DO: We really have to realize the importance of Pierre-Emerick in Marseille and in the French championship. Before succeeding abroad, he still passed through Lille, Monaco and Saint-Etienne. They are big L1 clubs. Marseille is another level and he managed to win. When I look at the attackers who have passed through OM, Pierre-Emerick is not far from the greatest.

“The good news is that Paris qualified without a great Mbappé”

After five league matches, many people were convinced he was going to be a flop

Can we compare him to Didier Drogba or Mamadou Niang?

DO: I don’t really like comparisons because the contexts are different. I would just say that currently, he is doing a lot of good at Olympique de Marseille. Very, very few attackers have done what Pierre-Emerick achieved during their first season at OM. Because in Marseille, we don’t give you time. After five league matches, many people were convinced he was going to be a flop. The club did a great deal by recruiting him for free. I even think that Marseille could have difficulty keeping him.

Against Benfica on Thursday, he will still have a decisive role for OM…

DO: In almost every Europa League match, he scored at least one goal (10 goals in 10 matches). Even when it was complicated in the first leg at Benfica (2-1), he managed to find the fault. To pass, Marseille will need a great Pierre-Emerick.

Didier Ovono and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the Gabonese selection, during CAN 2012.

Credit: Getty Images

2024-04-18 18:48:00
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