You’ll have heard by now that Celtic are monitoring target Aaron Boupendza.
In fact, Turkish media outlet Miliyet claim that Celtic had an offer of €6.5million (£5.4m) rejected for the player. Boupendza has had a fantastic season in Turkey, scoring 22 league goals for Hatayspor. Not bad for a free transfer from Bordeaux, at a club who were competing in their first Super Lig season.
Yep, that’s right. Formed in 1967 (quite right, too), the Turkish outfit only achieved their first top-flight season after winning the second tier in 19-20. So, to have landed a quality striker is quite the blessing. It gets better; the Antakya-based side ended up finishing sixth this season [BBC].
Little wonder, then, that scouts from around Europe have taken notice. Celtic are said to be battling other Turkish outfits for the Gabonese striker, but just who is he? And was his emergence expected?
Boupendza’s story begins in Gabon. At 18, he was playing for CF Mounana, before an unlikely move to French giants Bordeaux. After a single season with Bordeaux’s reserve side, a loan spell at Pau FC, in the Championnat National, yielded 13 goals in 22 games.
More loans came, but none reached the heights of his spell at Pau. Boupendza, still considerably young at the time, couldn’t make it work at any of GFC Ajacco, Tours or in Portugal with second-tier team Feirense. Over three loans, the Gabonese striker managed just 4 goals in total.
Turkish delight for Celtic target Aaron Boupendza
So, when Bordeaux cut their losses, it seemed fair enough. After all, despite a blistering start with Pau, the rangy forward hadn’t managed to make it work. There was confusion about his best position; was he a striker, or a winger? If the latter, which side?
Yet, he didn’t need to wait too long to get back on the scoresheet at a good level. Newly promoted side Hatayspor picked Boupendza up on a free transfer, and the goals came in bunches. From free kicks, cutting in from wide positions or in the box, Boupendza has shown a very considerable range of attributes in Turkey.
With Celtic needing forwards, especially left-footed attackers in the mould of Scott Sinclair, the Gabon international absolutely fits the bill.
Highlight reels are far from an exact science. But looking at Boupendza’s goals in Turkey, his technical ability is frightening. This is a player who will get fans out of their seats, with a divine first touch, ability to beat players for fun, and an absolute cannon of a shot. He also had prowess from free-kicks, which should make a post Edouard/Griffiths transition that bit easier.
Just 24, and with bags of potential, this would be an absolute coup for the Bhoys. We need an entertainer, and the 16-capped Gabonese international is all that and then some. Surely, Bordeaux will be ruing their mistake in letting him walk for free.