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Is this the most important player in the Bundesliga this season?

Friday 20th January 2017
Cast your minds back to the 2011-12 Premier League season and you might just recall a French striker named Anthony Modeste who spent a dismal six months at Blackburn Rovers.

Here he picked up more red cards than goals. Five years later, though, the now 28-year-old is on a one-man mission to fire FC Koln back to European football for the first time in 25 years.

Upon his return to parent club Bordeaux following Blackburn's relegation, the striker had scored just 16 goals in almost 100 top flight games across England and France – although he had returned 20 goals in a productive 2009-10 season on loan at Angers. However, a move to Bastia offered a new start, and Modeste responded with 15 goals, earning a move to Germany with Hoffenheim. Three-and-a-half years later, the Frenchman is now at Koln and scoring goals for fun.

Modeste enjoyed a positive two-year spell at Hoffenheim before moving to Koln in 2015 but has really hit his stride at the RheinEnergieStadion. A return of 15 goals in his debut season saw him top the club's scoring charts and, more importantly, helped the Billy Goats consolidate their position as a top flight club in only their second year since promotion from the Bundesliga 2. This season, though, he has stepped things up to a new level.

After just 16 games, the Frenchman has already registered 13 league goals this term, which puts him ahead of world-class stars including Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga scoring charts. In fact, only Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang boasts more goals in Germany's top flight this term; by the time the Gabon star returns from AFCON duty, Modeste could be at the summit.
That return is a massive achievement in itself, especially at a less fashionable club like Koln. Earlier in the season, the Frenchman's goals spearheaded the club to the top of German football for the first time in 20 years. While they have since slipped, they are still fighting to qualify for their first European adventure since 1992-93.

Koln's work under Peter Stoger has undoubtedly been a team effort from a close-knit squad, and each individual player has played his part. However, scoring a goal remains the hardest part of football, and Modeste's ability to do it on a regular basis has been the crux of the Billy Goats' resurgence.

Incredibly, Modeste's individual contribution legislates for a massive 62% of Koln's 21 goals. In comparison, even Aubameyang's tally of 16 is only 46% of Dortmund's while no other player in Germany's top flight has scored more than one-third of his club's overall return.

Quite simply, without the Frenchman's goals, Koln would be fighting for relegation. With them, they are battling for a top six finish in one of Europe's toughest and most competitive leagues. If that doesn't underline the importance of a star largely unacknowledged outside of his adopted city, what does?

If only Steve Kean could've unlocked that potential...
Liam Newman
Liam is a freelance football writer published by Shoot, Goal, Bleacher Report, Late Tackle, Blowing Bubbles, SportsKeeda, These Football Times, Football Whispers, and more. He supports West Ham and has watched England play in over 35 countries.

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