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Spotlight on…Kévin Gameiro

In the penultimate edition of the ‘Spotlight on…’ series, Sport Report travels to France and runs the rule over Lorient’s much sought-after striker Kévin Gameiro.

Over the last two years, Lorient’s diminutive young striker Kévin Gameiro has been linked with almost every major club in European football. The reason for such transfer rumours is the sensational form he has shown in that time. With Gameiro’s form improving all the time and the transfer speculation intensifying, it will surely only be a matter of time until one of these clubs tests Lorient’s resolve to hold on to their star asset.

It surely will not be long until Kevin Gameiro (left) swaps the colours of Lorient for those of a bigger club (This image is the property of Sportinglife.com)

Gameiro’s ascension to the top of French football began in earnest when he was aged 13. It was then that he joined US Chantilly and whilst there, he caught the eye of scouts from Strasbourg. In 2004, he moved east and joined Le Racing as a youth player. He made his professional debut as an 18 year old in September 2005 and three months later he scored his first senior goal in a UEFA Cup match against Red Star Belgrade. Unfortunately, what should have been a breakthrough season for the young striker was cut short when he ruptured knee ligaments, an injury which put him out of action for six months. During his absence, Strasbourg were relegated and so Gameiro made his comeback in French football’s second tier. He struggled to hold down a regular place in the starting eleven as the club successfully gained promotion, but all that changed the following season as he finished with six league goals. Strasbourg were however relegated once again and so Gameiro opted to leave.

In June 2008, Lorient had a bid of €3 million accepted and after agreeing personal terms, the striker joined the Brittany-based club. Upon his arrival, Gameiro was handed the number nine shirt and was immediately installed as the club’s lead striker, a
responsibility he has relished. In fact, it has been at Lorient that Gameiro’s career has really taken off. His first season was a success as he scored 13 goals and added nine assists in 39 appearances. If that was good, his second season was even better as he notched up a very respectable tally of 19 goals. By this time there was much clamour for him to play at the World Cup but coach Raymond Domenech did not select him in the squad for South Africa, a decision he would ultimately come to regret as France crashed out at the group stage having scored a solitary goal.

This season (2010/2011) has been Gameiro’s most productive yet as he has netted 22 goals in 36 games, including a laudable hat-trick against Bordeaux. His performances have attracted the attention of French national coach Laurent Blanc who called him up for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina, ending Portugal’s hopes of poaching him (Gameiro is eligible for Portugal through his grandfather). He has since made a further appearance for Les Bleus versus Brazil in February of this year.

Blanc is not the only one to have noticed the striker’s exploits in Le Championnat this season. A whole host of top clubs have been linked with the 24 year old’s signature and in January, it was even announced that he had agreed to join Valencia. Lorient officials countered the claims by stating that Valencia had discussed terms with the player without first agreeing a transfer fee. French media then announced that Gameiro was on his way to Bordeaux, a claim which was refuted by officials from Bordeaux who stated that the player wanted to join Valencia. When the transfer window slammed shut at the end of January, Gameiro was still a Lorient player and one has to admire the professionalism he has shown as he has put the disappointment of the transfer window behind him and continued to play to the best of his ability. More recently, Arsenal have been linked strongly with the player. Given Arsène Wenger’s scouting network in France and preference for small, skilful players, do not be surprised if this is one rumour that does materialise.

At only 5ft 7.5ins tall (1.72m), the Frenchman lacks the strength and physical presence of many modern strikers, but he makes up for his lack of size with technical ability. He offers versatility as he is able to play as an out-and-out striker (where he is most effective), in ‘the hole’ or even out wide. He plays on the shoulders of defenders ala Javier Hernandez and displays the same ice cold composure in front of goal. He uses his pace and football intelligence to take up excellent positions, as the number of goals he scores from inside the box shows. In short, he gives the impression of a natural-born striker.

He has just turned 24 and with three seasons at Lorient behind him, the time has probably come for Gameiro to test himself at a bigger club. Given the right stage on which to perform, he could become one of Europe’s most deadly hitmen.

Kévin Gameiro

Name: Kévin Gameiro

Place of Birth: Senlis,France

Nationality: French

Date of Birth: 9th May 1987

Career League Appearances: 147

Career League Goals: 55

Total Career Appearances: 178

Total Career Goals: 66

International Caps: 3

International Goals: 0

Key Attributes: natural born finisher, pace, excellent positional sense

Categories: Football
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