Following a rather disappointing 2017-18 season, Borussia Mönchengladbach have sent out a signal of intent ahead of the new season by smashing the club’s transfer record with the signing of French striker Alassane Pléa from Ligue 1 side Nice.
Despite a whole host of Premier League clubs chasing his signature- amongst them Newcastle United, West Ham, Fulham and Tottenham, it was the Fohlen who succeeded in getting their man for a reported €23 million on a five-year deal.
“We’re extremely glad that this transfer has gone through and we were able to sign Alassane despite a lot of competition from various other well-known clubs,” Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl explained this week. “Thankfully for us, he wanted to come to Borussia at all costs. He’s a versatile, quick and clever forward who has put his talent on full display in Ligue 1 and the Europa League.”
That talent was there for all to see last season as Nice (under new Borussia Dortmund trainer Lucien Favre) enjoyed another good season in the French top division finishing 8th . The 25-year-old formed a prolific partnership with Mario Balotelli scoring 16 league goals and providing 6 assists with his Italian partner scoring 18 goals.
Only Thorgan Hazard made it into double figures with goals last season for Mönchengladbach with neither Lars Stindl, Raffael, Josip Drmic nor Raul Bobadilla looking like the complete striker Dieter Hecking’s side needed. Indeed five of Hazard’s ten goals came via the penalty spot, so fans at the Borussia Park will be hoping that their new signing can fill the void.
Pléa started out in Lyon’s academy before making his debut for Les Gones as a 19-year-old. However after just 12 appearances he was sent on loan to second division Auxerre before signing for Nice in 2014. His breakout season came in 2016-17 when his 11 goals helped contribute to Nice pushing for the title before ultimately finishing third. Those 11 goals came in a stunning first half of the season, before a serious knee injury ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign. The 5’11” forward has totalled 36 goals in France’s first division while featuring in 119 matches, along with 22 assists while adding another dozen goals in other French domestic dompetitions and Europe League play.
The player has transformed over the past few seasons from a wide attacker to a central striker much in the way that Thierry Henry did. Pléa is very mobile and has developed into a very dangerous operator in and around the penalty area, but can also go back to his roots and be deployed wide on the left.
His finishing shows great composure with both feet and he likes to play on the shoulder of the defender to use his pace to run onto through-balls. He’s good in the air and holds-up play well. Last season in Ligue 1, only Edison Cavani and Memphis Depay has more shots from open-play.
Die Fohlen open their season on August 19 with their first-round DFB Pokal clash against BSC Hastedt, and then begin the Bundesliga campaign on August 25 hosting rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
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