Basel have made their presence felt in Europe in the recent years and have done so playing football which is easy on the eye. Another notable aspect of the club has been the number of good footballers who have emerged from the ranks to make an impression. Alex Saidy-Smith has a look at Basel’s rising star, Breel Embolo.
Who is Breel Embolo?
Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Breel Embolo moved to Basel, Switzerland at the age of six in 2003 with his mother and brother. Embolo started his career back in 2006 when he signed for local Basel team Nordstern where he spent two years. He then moved to BSC Old Boys spending a further two years at youth level during which he caught the eye of Basel’s biggest football club, FC Basel.
Embolo enjoyed a successful stint in the Basel U16 team with whom he won the Swiss Championship twice. His ability didn’t go unnoticed and was named Basel’s young player of the year in 2013. Nearly a year later Embolo made his senior debut for the club, coming on as a late substitute in FC Basel’s 0-0 draw against Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League. A few days later he made his first league appearance in impressive style by scoring within four minutes of coming onto the field.
Talent Radar Accolades:
Embolo has managed to remarkably make over 50 appearances for Basel despite only turning 18 in February and managed to pick up a Swiss Super League winners medal along the way. Embolo also became the sixth youngest goalscorer in the Champions League last season after scoring against Bulgarian team PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. He also had to take time off school so he could make the away trip to Merseyside to play Liverpool.
Back in December 2014, Embolo pledged to play for the Swiss national team having already represented them at youth level rather than playing for Cameroon. He made his senior international debut in March 2015 coming on as a substitute in 1-1 draw against the United States of America.
Embolo featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to watch in 2016.
Style of play, Strengths and Weaknesses
Embolo has stated that Mario Balotelli is one of his footballing heroes, but their attitude and work rate couldn’t be any different. The biggest similarity between the two strikers is that both of them are blessed with ice cool composure and a physical stature that is ready to battle with any defender in Europe.
When power meets pace, defenders have got a real handful to deal with it. Blessed with enough pace to beat defenders and contribute to quick counter attacks, it may seem that Embolo has it all physically at only 18 years-old.
There seems to be a consensus in football that tall players are too cumbersome to be accomplished dribblers, but Embolo proves that this stereotype is simply not true and possesses great dribbling ability and close control that can get him out of the stickiest of situations in a game. His ability to chest the ball down with his back towards goal and then use his close control and agility to turn around and sprint towards the goal is quite remarkable.
Embolo’s off the ball movement and timing of runs is fantastic. He has already picked up the knack of being at the right place at the right time, something that all top strikers have. The ability to not only create space for yourself but for your teammates is becoming evermore important for the modern striker. Embolo’s movement allows his teammates to have more time on the ball whilst he stretches defences and pulls out defenders from their positions.
Impressively racking up 13 assists in all competitions last season, Embolo showed how good he is as not only the spearhead of attacks but also the creator with his good distribution of the ball and understanding of free flowing quick football.
Often deployed in his favoured striker role, Embolo is sometimes played in a wide right role in midfield, usually in a 4-4-2 formation, using his dribbling ability and pace to beat full-backs. During his youth level days, Embolo was quite often played as a central midfielder, drawing comparisons to Paul Pogba due to his physique, ability to strike the ball and box-to-box runs.
The main drawback in Embolo’s game is that he can often go missing in games, especially in European nights when the pressure and level of play is higher than what he is usually used to. This will definitely change as he gets more games under his belt and gets used to the pressure of big European nights, after all this is what all footballers dream about when they were kids.
What does the future hold?
Several renounced sources, using this promotional code, are banking on the likes of Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur to be after Emobo given that he has all the ingredients to be a great modern day striker. Having said that, I think the best thing for him is to stay at Basel to continue his development, especially with Euro 2016 at the end of the season and him starting to breaking into the senior international squad. I would like to see Basel stand their ground if a big team starts to seriously sniff around as I truly believe that another two perhaps three years in Switzerland would be beneficial for both the player and the club.
Written by Alex-Saidy Smith