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Anthony Modeste: The journey from Premier League misfit to Bundesliga top shot

Friday 25th November 2016
Anthony Modeste is fondly remembered for his sterile spell in the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers where he failed to score a single goal. However, since his switch to Germany, the lanky forward has had a change of fortune with impressive performances for Cologne to become one of Europe's leading marksmen.

Modeste moved to England in January 2012 at a time Blackburn Rovers were desperately in need of a resurgence of some sort. The side was languishing at the bottom of the log with just 14 points after 19 games, having lost 11 of those games. The club's goalscoring burden was solely shouldered by Nigerian forward, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, who had netted more than half of their goals in the league.
So the arrival of Modeste was expected to breathe a new air to Rovers' quest for survival considering his goalscoring prowess while in France. At just 22, Modeste has already had a somewhat nomadic career, beginning with Nice before spells at Angers and Bordeaux. But it was at Angers he really made his mark notching 20 goals to finish behind current Arsenal forward, Olivier Giroud, as the Ligue 2 top goalscorer in 2010. This paved the way for a switch to Les Girondins where he struck another 13 times, putting some of Europe's top clubs on alert.

 

Finally, Modeste arrived in the Premier League on loan but failed to hit the ground running at Ewood Park. He failed to score, only started thrice, and conceded a needless red card during the 3-0 defeat at West Brom. Blackburn eventually suffered relegation, with Modeste still regarded as one of the worst signings in the club's history. Bordeaux never really wanted him back, but he recovered in grand style by scoring 15 goals on loan at Bastia during the 2012/13 season, partly thanks to meeting his idol, Didier Drogba, who gave him some valuable advice.
After such a positive spell, a move to Hoffenheim showed up and the Frenchman couldn't resist the offer. His partnership with Roberto Firmino and Kevin Volland during his first season in Germany was absolutely superb. The team scored 72 goals in 34 matches but conceded two fewer, meaning Hoffenheim only ended up in mid-table. Modeste's second season at the club was less successful, and Cologne was somewhat surprised with the smoothness of negotiations to sign him for just €4.5 million last summer.

Modeste and Cologne turned out to be a match made in heaven owing to the Billy Goats high pressing counter-attacking style of play, which offers the Frenchman free spaces to operate. The striker even promised to score 15 goals in his first season and stated that Cologne would finish in the top half of the table. Sure enough, he scored exactly 15 times, and the Billy Goats ended the season ninth.

The stake was raised a bit higher this term as Modeste aimed to surpass last season's exploits. And remarkably, the forward is well on track to smash his personal best with 12 strikes in just 11 games, which have taken his club to fourth position - one and three points adrift of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich respectively. In fact, the Frenchman has been responsible for more than 75 percent of the 18 goals scored by the Billy Goats thus far. Aside from being joint top scorer in the Bundesliga chart alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the 28-year-old also doubles as the top scorer in all Europe's major leagues.
However, all these could count for nothing if the former French youth international fails to achieve any of his childhood dreams. He said "two objectives are to play in the UEFA Champions League and to taste international football with France. I would certainly like to experience these very soon". The first is within reach, but playing for Les Bleus is still miles away for the forward. “He is having a great season, but the competition is tough,” France coach, Didier Deschamps, explained.

Modeste could still bear the tag of a flop in the Premier League but the 28-year-old is already the second most prolific French player in Bundesliga history behind Frank Ribery  – ahead of Johan Micoud, who scored 31 league goals. And It's just a matter of time before the former Nice forward stages an unprecedented return to the English top tier to make amends for his woeful first coming.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 


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