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The next African superstar?

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Piers Edwards | 18:04 UK time, Thursday, 14 April 2011

He's one of football's hottest properties, with a host of top clubs chasing him, so will Papiss Demba Cisse be the next African to take the European game by storm?

The Senegalese is having what he calls an 'extraordinary season', which is why reports are constantly linking the Freiburg striker with a move to England, particularly Arsenal.

Plucked from FC Metz and the relative obscurity of the French second division in December 2009, Cisse has turned into one of the most feared strikers in the Bundesliga where the 25-year-old currently tops the scoring charts despite playing for unfashionable Freiburg.

Last Saturday, as the southern German side beat Hoffenheim 3-2, Cisse netted his 20th league strike of the season - so equalling Tony Yeboah's long-standing African record in Germany while also going a goal clear of Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez.

Cisse has become one of Europe's most sought-after players as his goals have prompted Freiburg, a club more used to battling relegation, to start dreaming of a place in Europe.

"I didn't know I had equalled Yeboah's record and was only told on the evening of the match," Cisse told me on the line from Freiburg earlier this week. "I was very happy but with five matches left, I still want to achieve more."

Namely - finish top scorer. And Cisse is well-placed to become the first African to ever do so by himself, since Yeboah had to share that honour with rival strikers in both 1993 and 1994 as the Eintracht Frankfurt striker's form caught the eye of Leeds United.

Should the Senegalese do so, he would follow in the footsteps of pioneers like Samuel Eto'o (first African top scorer in Spain: 2006) and Didier Drogba (ditto England: 2007) - two players who he is now being compared to.

Although his career path is more akin to Drogba - toiling in France's lower leagues before making his mark relatively late in his career - his style of play is more reminiscent of Eto'o, with Cisse an out-and-out striker who gobbles up most of his goals from close range.

More used to battling relegation than fighting for a European spot, Freiburg currently lie eighth and are set for the highest finish in ten years. Cisse has netted over half their tally of league goals (38) and his efforts haven't gone unnoticed.

"We're talking to a lot of big clubs in all countries - Germany, England, Spain, Italy - but we are totally relaxed because he just has to play out the season," says his agent Guido Nikolay. "After that, I think we'll find a solution which is very good for the club and for the player."

So where next - where would the player himself like to go?

"If I leave Germany, England wouldn't be bad but for the moment I don't know," he told me, adding that playing for a Champions League side is his desire. "I want to show people what I am capable of doing at that level."

Aiming for both England and the Champions League - could the reported interest from Arsenal thus have some serious legs?

This week, Freiburg confirmed that official transfer requests have already been made for Cisse, with the club having already turned down one major offer after Wolfsburg offered 12m Euros in January.

15m Euros seems to be a more realistic figure for what Freiburg will accept for a player under contract until 2014 and for whom they paid their record amount, albeit just 1.6m Euros, in late 2009.

This was a fortune for cash-strapped Freiburg - but they'll deserve their profit after transforming a player who was often used as a second striker while at Metz.

"The difference this year is that I have the confidence of my team-mates and coach, which means we can do a lot together," says the Senegalese. "I also give everything to make sure the team is in a good way because if my team-mates are on form, then the team will be too.

"That makes my job easier, so I've become someone who doesn't find scoring too goals too difficult."

Confidence aside, the more offensive style of German football also suits Cisse's game - which really took off at Freiburg following the departure of the man they previously looked to for goals, the wholly erratic Cameroonian Mohammadou Idrissou.

So assuming he does end up playing Champions League football, does Cisse have the game to succeed?

"For sure," says Rene Kuebler of Freiburg newspaper Badische Zeitung. "He's not only a goalscorer but he's also fast, good at build-up and a team player. He doesn't lose the ball very often either. He's made a big step forward and I think he can now play anywhere, because he's physically stronger than he was a year ago."

Cisse celebrates his penalty against Hoffenheim, the goal that equalled Tony Yeboah's long-standing African record in Germany and took him clear at the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts

Internationally, a player with a good shot, useful left foot and decent volley boasts eight goals from just seven games and if this all sounds too good to be true, so does his character.

"For me, he is the perfect African player in Europe," adds Kuebler. "He's always laughing and smiling, and has never made any problems since he's been at the club. He's quiet, kind and doesn't behave as if he's special. His only bad point is that he's probably leaving!"

He's also very humble. When I asked him to define his strengths, he simply replied - 'my team-mates' - but lurking beneath this respectful demeanour is a fierce competitor.

One weakness is his tendency to pick up too many yellow cards, which Cisse blames on his will-to-win - for this single-minded Senegalese has his sights set firmly on the top.

"After the Eto'o/Drogba generation ends, there'll be a new generation of top Africans in Europe - and I'm working hard to be one of them," he says. "I hope to be one of the best, and that would bring me great pleasure."

As it will to whoever manages to secure his signature in the summer.


  • Comment number 1.

    No, not the New Eto'o. Eto'o's pedigree was such that as a Teenager he was on the books of Real Madrid and had already appeard in a World Cup.

    His career has subsequently lived up to the billing he was given at that early age. In stark contrast, here we have a 25 year old striker who is just establishing himself in the German bundesliga and having a great season. The new Kevin Phillips perhaps? The new Demba Ba? The new Grafite? The new Sergej Barbarez?

    Certainly not the new Samuel Eto'o

  • Comment number 2.

    I'd also suggest that Drogba was hardly any kind of Pioneer. I know they didn't top score, but i'd say that Kanu, Yeboah, Okocha and others had already pioneered african talent in the EPL before the arrival of the Chelsea striker in 2004

    And where is the mention of someone like Mahmadou Niang?

  • Comment number 3.

    "For me, he is the perfect African player in Europe," adds Kuebler. "He's always laughing and smiling.....
    - - -- - - - -- - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --- - - -- - - - - -- - - - - - -

    U hear that boys? When u go to Europe make sure u are always smiling & laughing. Dont u dare express any other of the normal human emotions: Sadness, Anger, Assertiveness etc
    Just smile and be happy (maybe sing, dance & drum too), we dont wanna upset anyone in Europe! ;)

  • Comment number 4.

    What comment number 1 said.................

  • Comment number 5.

    He looks like a quality player, i have seen him play for frieburg and you can see that aswell as being an athlete and a very physical player like most african players, he is a goal-scorer and gets into those positions where he can score the tap-ins and the one-on-ones. He would also suit the premier league as he is very fast and strong and can hold the ball up and spin in behind and if arsene wenger is interested then he must see something in him and he could give us a bit of energy up front and something a bit different.

  • Comment number 6.


    I'm pretty sure the Eto'o comparison is because he's African, which is an underlying theme in the blog.

  • Comment number 7.

    A Senegalese striker looking to play in England? Come and join Stoke, we seem to enjoy signing Senegalese players having signed Abdoulaye Faye, Salif Diao, Ibrahima Sonko, Amdy Faye and Henri Camara since 2008, with varying amounts of success!

    On a serious note, he looks like a lethal striker, someone who could really benefit a team like Arsenal who often seem to be lacking in a bit of presence up front. I could see Cisse working well with the likes of Van Persie certainly. Good luck to him wherever he ends up, hope he breaks Yeboah's Bundesliga record too :)

  • Comment number 8.

    I have never seen him play, but look at those biceps! Would like to kow his weight and height. He is certainly a top striker, but I doubt if with his size, he could play well outside the box i.e. contributing to the build up of the play like an Eto'o or Rooney! If he can, to him be the glory!

  • Comment number 9.

    Comparisons with Eto after one good season at a mid-table german club when he is 25? The definition of overhype.

  • Comment number 10.

    @tomefccam I think you have the comparisons very wrong. Look at the title of the article. It's about the next African superstar, something which both Eto'o and Drogba are. The player even mentions it himself at the end of the piece, that the Eto'o/Drogba era is about to finish and he wants to take over their role as the best African striker in Europe.

    Eto'o has been one of Europe's best strikers over the last few years, so the question is will this player take over his mantle, will he be the new Eto'o, the new star of African football?

  • Comment number 11.

    The next truly big thing out of Africa is 18-year-old Nigerian striker Ahmed Musa... he'll be massive.

  • Comment number 12.

    As far as my humanity can see that is

  • Comment number 13.

    A Senegalese striker looking to play in England? Come and join Stoke, we seem to enjoy signing Senegalese players having signed Abdoulaye Faye, Salif Diao, Ibrahima Sonko, Amdy Faye and Henri Camara since 2008, with varying amounts of success!

    On a serious note, he looks like a lethal striker, someone who could really benefit a team like Arsenal who often seem to be lacking in a bit of presence up front. I could see Cisse working well with the likes of Van Persie certainly. Good luck to him wherever he ends up, hope he breaks Yeboah's Bundesliga record too :)

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Come and join Stoke? Not unless he is 7 foot tall, of bovine stock and has the intelligence and touch of a repressed Rhino!

  • Comment number 14.


    Phrases like the next big thing on youngsters only kills them! Last time, it was Chrisantus! Freddy Adu was compared to Pele at age 15! I don't even know where both are today!

  • Comment number 15.

    lol @ 13

  • Comment number 16.

    He has been very good this season and some of his finished have been fantastic. People seem to look down on the Bundesliga but at the moment there isn't much to choose between the top four leagues in Europe. The premiership is full of mediocrity at the moment. Whoever wins the premiership this year won't really deserve it, yet winners of Serie A, Bundesliga, and La Liga have all performed very well.

  • Comment number 17.

    Agree with first comment!

  • Comment number 18.

    Every one is talking about the new drogba/eto' but why thing of the next striker from Africa when you have got a Belgian powerhouse playing for RSC Anderlecht called Romelu Lukaku , at 17 he has scored a lot of goals for Anderlecht, as well as being a powerhouse he has great link up play. When I saw Papiss Demba Cisse play he looked like a goal hanger not a good link up player unlike Lukaku who has very quick feet and strength, and so is definitely the next Drogba. Also lol at #13 may anger Stoke fans.

  • Comment number 19.

    Papiss demba cisse aka Tombo is a good striker and he make assist as well,he is not selfish and he got pace.Three other Senegalese strikers are on top of their league.Moussa Sow top scorer of the French league,Mamadou Niang former top scorer of the French league last year moved to turkey and he's the top scorer at the moment;Dame Ndoye is actually the top scorer of the top league in Norway. No wonder why the Senegal national team has netted 12 goals in 3 games of the African cup of nation qualifiyers.

  • Comment number 20.

    does he have the leg-scything instincts needed to be a stoke player?

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree with 3 and 13 made me burst out laughing. I am sure bovines really appreciate being compared to stoke players. I will need to check out some freiburg games to see if he is as good as its claimed.

  • Comment number 22.

    We'll soon find out how good he is.
    I've read recently, right after the last mentioning of FFP, that Bayern Munich were prepared to offer £12m to Sunderland for Gyan.

    If he's that good, the logical expectation is to see Bayern's interest in him.

  • Comment number 23.

    What do you mean by 'unfashionable Freiburg'? Why are we 'unfashionable'? I have a feeling this possibly isn't the most accurate word you could have chosen to describe the club.

  • Comment number 24.

    Very good article. The truth is you can never tell if a player like this will be a flash in the pan or a consistent performer season in, season out but from what I've seen of him he is very good. I wouldn't rule out a move to Bayer Leverkusen though: Champions League in the offing and Robin Dutt in line to take the hotseat. That could suggest its on the cards? To quote Cisse "If I leave Germany..."

  • Comment number 25.

    9. At 19:05pm 15th Apr 2011, The_arsenal_midget_society wrote:
    Comparisons with Eto after one good season at a mid-table german club when he is 25? The definition of overhype.


    Try watching him play before you cast him off, yeah?

    You obviously don't know anything about German football or even remember something you read from two minutes earlier. Freiburg are mid-table because of Cisse. Being top scorer and playing for a smaller team is a much more impressive feat than being the top scorer and playing for the best team in the league.

  • Comment number 26.

    Cisse is good but he will need to prove himself in Europe before he becomes an African sensation in Europe otherwise he is just an average striker playing for an average team

  • Comment number 27.

    #1 If you read it, it's saying they were pioneers in that they were the first African top scorers, not first players. It also mentions the fact his career was more similar to Drogba, not Eto'o and it only compares his style of play to Samuel, it doesn't say anywhere that he is actually as good. I think you should pay more attention before you criticize.

  • Comment number 28.

    @23 feldberg: Precisely. The blogger has little idea of 'Breisgau Brazilianer' and SC Freiburg. BvB fan here, but SC is one of the most sympathetic club in the budesliga. Unfashionable definitely not.

  • Comment number 29.

    One good season doesn't make him a top class player! Ok, i've not seen him and i'm basing this on his statistics; but he's been an average player at low teams for his whole career until now.. Sounds more like a Benjani than Eto/Drogba.. Though I guess the next couple of seasons will determine that!

  • Comment number 30.

    Kanu invented African football. Kanu invented Africa!

    Seriously though, you really can't say that a player has to be highly rated at the big clubs to be quality. Michael Owen was sensational in his teens but injury blighted his twenties. Ian Wright got his chance on the big stage at 28 and became a legend!

  • Comment number 31.

    Thou shalt not take Samuel Eto'o's name in vain.

  • Comment number 32.

    ...."Being top scorer and playing for a smaller team is a much more impressive feat than being the top scorer and playing for the best team in the league"
    Good one. Agree with you in totality.

    A player with top notch team mates is expected to perform very well against all opposition. However, if a player of a 'mediocre' club scores that many goals against opponents that are above his standards, if we think so, then he si doing remarkably well which does show his quality.

  • Comment number 33.

    Good blog.
    Not very flattering comments about the perfect African to play in Europe. I am sure the comments are meant in good faith but in reality they diminish African players (or Africans in general) to rabble rousers or troublemakers.
    By the way I wonder if any of the peolple who make negative comments about Africans (and their behaviours) can answer this question.
    Who has more yellow cards in the premiership- Wayne Rooney or el Hadji Diouf?
    I won't be surprised if the answer on most people's tongues is el Hadji but actually Rooney has more yellow cards (and both have been in the premiership since 2002). Surprised? With the amount of negative comments about Diouf (and I don't say he's a saint) you would certainly not think that his record is better than Rooney's. There you go, the power of the European press and the treatment of Africans and black people in general. We see this prejudice everywhere despite claims of "no racism" in Britain. If the behaviour comes from an African-he's trouble, if from a European-he is passionate.

    Sorry about my rant. This chap sounds like a good prospect and just like Drogba he might be a late developer. Good luck to him.

  • Comment number 34.

    Welcome to the party! Another lazy blog by a behind the times "journalist", next will be a blog on "Eden Hazard, a new star in the making!".

  • Comment number 35.

    Please see Moussa Sow at Lille! If you substitute his name for Cisse it would be a more accurate blog! You have to love the "new beeb", such a shame...

  • Comment number 36.

    Some people have to go back to school. The article it's about one of them next superstar in Africa. PDC is doing very well in the Bundesliga and we hope he will become the best striker ever in africa. I have a big hope bout Demba Ba he is young and lot of talents

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi Chalsa, the reason I'm not writing about Lukaku is simple. Although he has Congolese roots - his dad playing for the national team - he's now playing for Belgium and this is a blog focussing on African football...

    As for Bayern's interest, there's not a lot we can do but wait and see on that one. My understanding of the German league is that although the Bundesliga is growing in financial strength, there still aren't that many teams who could offer 15m Euros for Cisse - Bayern obviously can, but will they? On that note: re. Gyan, as far as I know, neither the player himself nor his agent have had any contact with the club at all.

    Mentioning Bayern, Mario Gomez netted a hat-trick today (as BM beat Bayer Leverkusen 5-1) while Freiburg lost 3-0 at league leaders Borussia Dortmund, so Cisse's now two goals behind the German with just four games left. Can he still finish top?

  • Comment number 38.

    yes super star in deed

  • Comment number 39.

    @chalsa i don't why know you bring up lukaku's name in this african blog,the boy plays for belgium and not for congo and the blogger was talking about africa next big thing like drogba,eto'o,kanu,etc,im a congolese citizen but do i enjoy the benefit of lukaku? no but the people of senegal are enjoying the benefit of cisse he has just punished the cameroonians a few weeks ago eto'o knows cisse because he was the cause of eto'o losing his cool toward a journalist after scoring the only goal of the game,lets all wish this boy good and lets stop been negatives against a talented guy like cisse.

  • Comment number 40.

    Without the shining stars from Africa the Beautiful Game is incomplete. Teams in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, England, Turkey, and Russia are well served by footballers from Africa. Football teams in the Middle East too have many quality footballers plying their trade in those small oil-rich rich national football leagues. Here in India we have footballers from Africa in almost all our First and Second Division Football teams in the ongoing National I-League. Names like Ranti, Odafe, Yakubu, Chidi Edeh, Koko, Bello Razak are all household names in the villages, towns and cities of Goa, Kerala, West Bengal, Sikkhim, Meghalaya, Manipur, parts of Maharashtra and in the Punjab.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho


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