Serhou Guirassy is the man leading Europe’s goalscoring charts with 14 goals in 8 games – almost DOUBLE Kylian Mbappe – and Premier League clubs want him for a shock price… but where has the 27-year-old come from?
- Serhou Guirassy has taken a humble road to being Europe’s most wanted man
- His old club didn’t even know how to spell his name but now he is revered
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s football podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
Serhou Guirassy is the likeable wallflower who blossomed into Europe’s deadliest striker.
‘Very nice boy, big teddy bear,’ remembers Philippe Hinschberger, who gave him his debut at Stade Lavallois in October 2013.
‘At the training centre, when things got heated with educators, sometimes, we told him that we were going to call his mother. And he was like, “No, please don’t call my mum,”‘ he told France Bleu.
A decade on, and if coaches were to call home now, it would be to ask what on earth they’re putting in his cereal.
Stuttgart’s marksman is Europe’s unlikely top scorer with as many league goals as Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-Min combined: 14. His tally of 15 goals in nine games in all competitions this season puts the elite to shame. His first eight shots on target this campaign all went in. In September, he scored every 50 minutes.
Serhou Guirassy has been in blistering form this season with 15 goals in all competitions
The 27-year-old has fired Stuttgart to second in the Bundesliga despite his fairly low profile
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Like a footballing Midas, everything he touches turns to goals. At present, anyway.
English teams’ antennae have pricked up at reports that his Stuttgart contract contains a release clause of £15million, though some outlets claim it has expired. A million quid per goal, potentially. A Poundland poacher for the likes of Fulham, Newcastle, West Ham, and Nottingham Forest, all of whom have been linked with him in recent months.
The question is why, and how, this brilliance has sprouted in a 27-year-old who until now has had a low profile. It’s a question his growing swarm of Premier League admirers need answers to before January. Is this all just a flash in the pan, the spangles of a one-season wonder, a modern-day Michu on steroids?
Last weekend, he limped off during Stuttgart’s 3-0 win at Union Berlin with a hamstring injury and the club say he will be sidelined for a few weeks. There are doubts about whether he will retain his brilliance or come back with all the sharpness of a wet Flump.
But this season isn’t the full story. Underestimate him at your peril. Guirassy has been flaunting his feathers for some time. Rune Gjerulff Petersen, editor of English-language Bundesliga news website Bulinews, told Mail Sport that signs of his quality have been evident longer than some think.
He said: ‘Guirassy already looked very promising for Stuttgart last season, especially after Sebastian Hoeness took over in April, scoring five goals in the last eight Bundesliga games of the campaign.
‘He is a very complete striker. If you look at the goals he’s scored this season, you’ll see that they’re actually quite different. He hasn’t just scored poacher’s goals, but has also shown the ability to create goals more or less out of nothing, using an unexpected piece of skill or unleashing a thunderbolt from the edge of the box.’
Last season, on loan at Stuttgart from Rennes, Guirassy bagged 14 goals in 28 games to fire them to safety. That was enough for the Bundesliga outfit to make him their third-most expensive signing ever for £7.85million in the summer.
Stuttgart’s marksman scores all types of goals and said he is inspired by Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski
Certain reports claim that he has an active £15million release clause and clubs are swirling like vultures
A recent hamstring injury has sidelined him for a few weeks and returning at the same level will be a big test
At Rennes, where he played two full seasons from 2020 to 2022, he managed a haul of 25 goals and cut his teeth in Europe. There he found himself playing alongside Eduardo Camavinga, Jeremy Doku, Nayef Aguerd, and Steven Nzonzi – exciting company to learn alongside. Guirassy had the honour of scoring the club’s first-ever Champions League goal in 2020, a penalty against Krasnodar.
So we’re not talking about Micah Richards levels of ‘bursting onto the scene’ here. His star has been slowly rising, the result of a patient, unassuming grind. Guirassy, a devout Muslim, is described as quiet when he’s away from the pitch, very focused.
All the same, this is a man who has mostly eschewed the limelight and the headlines, whose career started in humble environs. His first club was J3S Amilly, a footballing minnow in a sedate Loire Valley town. A far cry from Clairefontaine and France’s other golden gateways to the elite.
Their loss, Amilly’s gain. His minders had a diamond in the rough and they knew it. In the U15s category, he scored more than 40 goals in one season.
Olivier Rolland, the club’s president, told the Bundesliga’s YouTube channel: ‘There was always his raw power, physicality, pace, accuracy, and determination in front of goal. In footballing terms we’d say ‘fox in the box’. He has a presence and always knows exactly where to be.’
Youth coach Steve Boue added: ‘To me, Serhou was already a professional then. You could see it from his manner and how he behaved. I always remember he’d collect all the balls together. He was already very, very professional then and one of few players to behave this way.’
His form there was always going to attract attention, and so came calling Stade Lavallois of Ligue 2 pedigree. Fourteen goals in 16 outings for the B team saw his ascension to the senior side accelerated and he was made the club’s youngest-ever player at just 17. Seven goals for them in the 2014/15 season earned him a surprise move to Lille.
His initial love affair with the French top flight was short-lived – he managed eight games for Lille but was bumped down to their B team and out on loan to Auxerre in the second tier. Once again, he thrived at the lower level, scoring eight times in 16 outings – still in his teens, mind. Guirassy’s potential was evident all along, but he never cracked it at the senior level for one of France’s most storied clubs.
Koln were the first major club to really give Guirassy the light of day. In 2016, he drifted down the Loire and landed on the banks of the Rhine, picked up by the Bundesliga club aged just 20.
Former youth coaches say he always had his professionalism, intuition, and physicality
The striker joined Koln when he was just 20 and was relegated with the club two years later
He joined Koln at an exciting time. In his first season the club finished fifth, their highest finish this century. Guirassy was on the bench playing second fiddle to Anthony Modeste but that didn’t matter. European football beckoned.
Yet as is often the case, European football became a hindrance for Koln. In 2017/18, contending with a packed calendar and stripped of their finest talents, they finished rock bottom with Guirassy leading the line.
While he scored a Europa League goal against Arsenal that campaign, he couldn’t do enough to inspire them to safety. Half-way through the next season Amiens took him on loan, and he signed for them permanently in 2019 after just nine goals in 45 appearances at Koln.
That’s what makes his form so surprising, perhaps. Bundesliga fans aren’t used to seeing this version of Guirassy. When he first arrived in Germany, the media and fans used to spell his name wrong. Sehrou, not Serhou Guirassy, they wrote until he corrected them. Koln even had to get their autograph cards reprinted.
Fans may see a man who failed to shine first time around and was therefore ushered out the door to Amiens, a French yo-yo club, where he averaged a goal every three games. Respectable, but unremarkable.
Amiens laid the foundations – Spurs scouted him while Leicester City and Aston Villa mulled over a move in 2020. That said, his career trajectory has only really been catapulted at Rennes and Stuttgart, where he has unearthed his best self. Now, he really does look the complete striker.
Last campaign, as Stuttgart meandered around the lower reaches of the Bundesliga table like an old DVD screensaver, he played under four different managers, four different approaches, and that battle of ideas has formed a player who can score any type of goal and produce in any moment.
It’s the zenith of the danger he has always wanted to be. At Amiens, he said: ‘When you are an attacker, you must know how to do everything, be able to adapt to all types of situations. You must be able to store, go deep and know how to vary your game to the fullest.’
Guirassy ranks highly in most metrics you can think of. Besides his obvious goal threat, he’s in the top 3% of Bundesliga strikers for passes completed, the top 10% for total carrying distance, and the top fifth for aerial duels won.
Playing in an innovative 3-3-4 shape in possession, Stuttgart is the perfect stomping ground for a striker who likes to get on the ball. He is the fulcrum on the team. The 6ft 1in striker enjoys playing with his back to goal and bringing teammates into play, but equally he can lead a direct and devastating counter by running at defenders.
A spell in Amiens, where he slowly built his stock, gathered the attention of bigger clubs
He scored Rennes’ first-ever Champions League goal in 2020 – a penalty against Krasnodar
With Stuttgart second in the Bundesliga and working towards the dreaming spires of continental qualification, a report in Bild suggests that Guirassy intends to stay put in January. Unless one of the big guns come in for him, why trade a potential title tilt in Germany for mid-table in a distant land?
There’s also the Africa Cup of Nations from mid-January to mid-February. Guirassy will be there with Guinea. As the shopping trolleys chase him, he may well want to focus on the tournament and ignore the clamour of being wanted.
Wherever Guirassy ends up, however he ends up, he has briefly lived the dream. Europe’s top scorer. Records shattered – his hat-trick against Wolfsburg was Stuttgart’s fastest in 54 years. Mbappe, Harry Kane, Erling Haaland? Scooping up the dust left in his wake.
For all the talk of his transformation, Guirassy insists there’s no secret and that he hasn’t changed. And perhaps that much is true. But whatever he is doing with the ball has altered beyond recognition.
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