Thursday, 10 January 2013

Don't Hoarau be happy: PSG striker snubs Premier League for China

Last week I was thinking about starting a new game called Where's Hoarau?

It would've involved finding our gangly hero (bobble hat optional) amidst a crowded scene of football clubs fighting for his attention.

Sadly the game has lost a lot of its marketing potential now that the chief protagonist, Paris Saint-Germain striker Guillaume Hoarau, has decided on a new club.

When the 28-year-old departed early from PSG's Qatar training last week, it sparked a speculation-fest in the media, with various reports having him travel to England, the Middle East and China for talks with interested clubs that apparently included Everton and Sunderland. No one seemed to know what his actual destination was, and the player himself added to the confusion with some cryptic messages on his Twitter page.

Yesterday it became apparent he is planning to continue his career in China, having signed for Dalian Aerbin, a team named after and funded by a construction company, not, as I'd hoped, a tribute to former Aston Villa front-man Dalian Atkinson. Their badge looks a bit like Lazio's, so I hope Guillaume doesn't think he's going to be playing in Serie A:

I've been a big Hoarau fan ever since he joined PSG in 2008. The Reunion-born striker had an unconventional route into professional football, only leaving his native island to sign his first professional contract with Le Havre at the age of 20.

Even then, it took him a while to make his breakthrough, but his fourth season with the Ligue 2 side proved to be a watershed one. With 28 goals in 38 appearances, he propelled his team into Ligue 1, attracting attention from a host of top clubs. PSG won the race for his signature for a bargain price of €500,000, and he repaid them with 20 goals in his debut campaign, Paul Le Guen's side secure a Europa League spot.

Since then he's struggled to repeat that kind of goal output, only managing double figures once in the three and a bit seasons since (2010/11). He never seemed to gel effectively with Mevlut Erding, and latterly injuries and the big-name QSI influx haven't helped.

Nevertheless he remains one of my favourite players of recent years. A predator in the box (all his 38 Ligue 1 goals came from inside the area according to @OptaJean), his hold up play is also decent, and I felt he was chronically under-used at times last year - there's no doubt in my mind that Kevin Gameiro would have benefited from having a bigger presence alongside him.

By all accounts he was a good figure to have in the dressing room too, often playing his guitar and initiating jappery and top bantz with his team-mates.

It seems a shame that he's going to a league where the money challenge may be good, but the standard of play is perhaps not comparable to the main leagues in Europe. Hopefully he'll be back sooner rather than later, as I feel he still has a lot to offer at the top level. Merci et bonne courage Guillaume.


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