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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Stade de La Meinau

Fulham, Newcastle and Liverpool target Ajorque loves to BULLY defenders but can't play with Mitro

By Alessandro Schiavone at Stade de la Meinau, Strasbourg (France)





Photo Wikimedia Commons


Fulham have been heavily linked with a move Racing Club de Strasbourg's 28-year-old frontman Ludovic Ajorque. Perfect in Marco Silva's 4-2-3-1, there are however lingering doubts over the Frenchman's compatibility and complementarity with fellow poacher Aleksandar Mitrovic. Capital Football has analysed why he is NOT suited to playing with the Cottagers' record man.


Too similar to Mitrovic


If he doesn’t get the service, he is just a normal player. Like Mitrovic. And imagine Fulham don't function as a team on the day, it would look like they play down to nine men with the pair simultaneously fielded. That said, the similarities don't end there. Far from drifting wide or dropping deep like Harry Kane does, Ajorque is an out-and-out centre-forward who lurks in the box, ready to stick his boot out or nod home inviting crosses. Like Mitrovic. He has proven that he can cut it in a good but not extraordinarily high level like Ligue 1. Like Mitrovic, who scored for fun in Championship.Today the ex-Newcastle no.9 may have scored a brace against Liverpool in the Premier League but the jury is still out on him after two poor seasons in England’s top-flight in 2018/2019 and 2020/2021 respectively. And the ex-Clermont striker is an audacious header of the ball who loves to apply pressure on defenders from set-pieces or when his team transitions. Like Mitrovic. If left in acres of space in the box, even to a less devastating extent, he punishes teams. Like Mitrovic. THUS serious doubts persist over whether fellow 28-year-olds Ajorque and Mitrovic can play together. They are just too similar with the only difference being that Ajorque is even taller and stronger. But both love to attack the space. And last but not least, both need to feel that they are their team’s focal point and superstar. If on one hand, a potential cohabitation and subsequent rivalry would keep them on their toes and help get the best out each other in what is a critical season ahead, it would also create unneeded problems. It’s rumoured Liverpool boss Jurgen Kopp is a keen admirer of the Strasbourg star’s accuracy, devastating aerial talent and tendency to bully opponents with his sheer power and strength. He’d be the perfect understudy for new star striker Darwin Nunez. And accepting the bench at Anfield would be less problematic than doing so in West London. Another team that would suit his playing style are Newcastle. The Tynesiders need an upgrade on Chris Wood and the strasbourgeois would thrive playing in front of Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes. All while benefititng from Matt Targett's on-the-money balls in.


Not a prolific goalscorer


Twelve goals in Ligue 1 is a decent return for the towering 28-year-old. But how many would he score in the Premier League where he is up against arguably stronger centre-backs and teams? After climbing up the football pyramid, Ajorque rightly sees himself as more than just a roll of the dice. But not sure he has the number of goals in him Fulham need to stay up. And he himself requires to dislodge Mitrovic who is still the undisputed Messiah at Craven Cottage.


In the 38th minute of the home fixture against AS Monaco, he did something Mitrovic rarely does. He closed a Monaco player down, dispossessed him before trying his luck from far out. Alexander Nubel, in the Monegasque goal, was equal to it. That was a vital wake-up call Les Coureurs needed at a critical point of the game which they went on to lose 2-1 after having a late Habib Diallo headed goal disallowed. In a nutshell, while Mitro is a predator who loves to finish chances INSIDE the 18-yard-box, Ajorque boasts a more than qualified left foot to surprise the opposition’s keeper from distance. But both don't do enough in dispossession.


Ajorque is more complete than Mitro but less deadly


That said, even though he ‘only’ managed 12 strikes in Ligue 1 last term, he’s done so from merely 45 clear-cut chances. On average that’s more than one goal in every four attempts, amounting to a respectable 26.6% ratio. And even better, from 30 efforts on goal he’s only missed 18. The more he shoots, the more he scores. But he plays in a side that doesn’t play to his strengths where crosses are few and far between. Frustrating for a player who depends on service like a dog hinges on his owner.


That said, Ajorque would be a fantastic addition for several Premier League clubs. He is someone who loves to lurk in the box, stick his boot out and finish chances. He is so tall that more often than not he anticipates the defenders to nod home inviting crosses. Besides he is a very confident player who loves to unleash close and long-range thunderbolts towards goal whenever he gets the opportunity. Hence, it goes without saying that he is more than capable of leading the line for a Premier League club thanks to his physicality, understanding of the game, ability in the last 40 yards and goalscoring threat. Plus, he has ‘educated’ feet and likes to combine with his teammates. But although he is complementary with Habib Diallo, who scored a fine header against Monaco, there are good chances he and his Serbian counterpart would step on each other’s toes. Both occupy the same areas, need a vast of spaces. On top of that they are both selfish, greedy and opportunistic. Mitro more than Ajorque. They are far from the perfect match in heaven like Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku who are born to play together.

Taken off by manager Julien Stephan shortly after his side reduced the deficit after the hour-mark, today may well have been his La Meinau farewell. On an unimpressive note. Was the big man distracted by the ongoing transfer speculations?

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