Slow Burn Babacar Ready For Premier League Challenge

 • by Thomas McIlroy
news now

When a player makes their debut at 16 years old for a massive club like Fiorentina, big things are expected.

Even more so considering the Italian side fought off competition from the likes of European giants Manchester United and Real Madrid for the services of Khouma Babacar back in 2008.

Yet, ten years after first joining La Viola, the forward looks like he’s on his way to the Premier League, but not to sides at the top of the table.

Instead, the Senegal international has been linked with clubs in the bottom half that are trying to address their goalscoring woes – he is thought to be a Crystal Palace, Brighton and Hove Albion and West Bromwich Albion transfer target.

Who is Babacar?

Born in Senegal in 1993, Babacar moved to Italy aged 14 and joined Delfino Pescara 1936 after a successful trial.

He was also offered to Fiorentina at the time, but it wasn’t until the following year when he joined the Serie A club after he was watched by then sports director Pantaleo Corvino. La Viola paid €35,000 to sign him in despite interest from elsewhere.

In January 2010, he made his debut for La Viola, aged just 16, starting and scoring against Chievo Verona in a Coppa Italia tie. His first league goal came two months later in a 3-0 win over Genoa.

But after that goal, he struggled to find the back of the net, failing to score in Serie A during the 2010/11 season, before being sent on loan to Racing Santander for the following campaign.

His spell in Spain didn’t go particularly well, as the forward was unable to find the back of the net and Las Racinguistas were relegated from La Liga.

A return to Italy saw him notch just one league goal in 16 appearances for Serie B side Padova in 2012/13, but it was the 2013/14 season where he finally caught the eye.

In his third loan spell away from Fiorentina, Babacar was the fourth-highest scorer in Serie B, managing 20 for Modena.

After returning to Florence, Babacar stepped in for the injured Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez at the start of 2014/15 and scored four times in eight matches. He finished with nine goals in total, but knee troubles prevented him from completing a maiden season.

Worryingly, he’s never played more than 22 league games in a campaign, even if he does have a decent goalscoring return since he came back from his loan spells – 26 in 74.

And with Giovanni Simeone the first choice No.9 for Fiorentina, Babacar is yet to start a league game this season, although he has netted four times from his 15 substitute appearances.

At 24 years old, it’s no surprise he wants a move away to gain first-team football at what is a key part of his development.

What are Babacar’s main strengths?

The forward is powerful with an accurate shot from distance – it feels like he’s built for the Premier League.

In the stills above you can see just how strong he is, taking down the ball in the box with a neat bit of control.

He manages to ward the defender off, and despite having four opposition players around him, manages to back heel it through for his team-mate to get a shot away on goal.

Babacar also has the eye for the spectacular, as you can see against Sampdoria above. After collecting the ball on the edge of the area, he takes a touch and fires it over the goalkeeper emphatically.

If teams are under pressure, Babacar can start a counter-attack as he’s very quick, especially over the first couple of yards, and he has got the intelligence to play the right ball on a quick break.

What are Babacar’s main weaknesses?

It’s harsh to say it, but injuries are a worry, as he is yet to play a complete injury-free season. And given he hasn’t started a league game in 2017/18 will be a worry for any potential suitor as to how long it’ll take him to get up to speed.

What’s more, he’s accused of not always putting the easy chances away, instead scoring the spectacular.

As is often the case with big men, his physicality can also lead to him giving away a number of unnecessary fouls when grappling with defenders.

Key stats on Babacar

How much is Babacar worth?

With the transfer market completely skewed, all prices are pretty much a guess.

However, Fiorentina are said to be asking for £15million for the forward, who has 18 months left on his contract.

That fee seems pretty reasonable for someone who’s at a big Italian club and has plenty of Serie A experience behind him.

Babacar will definitely be cheaper than Moussa Dembélé, who’s been linked with the likes of Brighton and Hove Albion for £20million.

Why Premier League clubs should buy Babacar

The Fiorentina man has the physical attributes to thrive in the Premier League.

Once linked with Liverpool and Manchester United, it’s clear he has quality, but he needs to develop at a club where he’s playing regularly, which is an opportunity he should have at a team not competing for a European place in England.

And with Brighton, West Brom and Crystal Palace all scoring fewer goals than matches played this season, it’s clear they’re calling out for a striker, so brining in someone like Babacar makes sense.