The Congolese forward was plucked out of the Super Lig to replace Luciano Vietto, and the gamble has so far proved another masterstroke from the club’s board.
The Villarreal talent-spotters have done it again. This time the Yellow Submarine have struck gold with an unheralded striker from the Turkish Super Lig, a relative unknown who has caused a stir both in and outside the club.
Ex-Sochaux and Bursaspor forward Cedric Bakambu has already passed the 20-goal mark in all competitions and has made an instant impact since arriving last summer. Now, he will take centre stage in the Spanish side’s attempts to reach the Europe League final at the expense of Liverpool.
Luciano Vietto’s exit for Atletico Madrid appeared a sharp blow for the Castellon club, and the concerns over lack of firepower were hardly quelled by the signing of the mysterious figure of Bakambu. Despite an excellent last season in Bursaspor, with 21 goals in 39 games, his arrival was widely considered a risk.
But the Congolese star has more than paid back the faith shown in him. Villarreal shelled out €7 million to take him to Spain, and his value has already tripled following this dream debut season.
Strong, quick and direct, Bakambu has shown from the very start of the campaign that he is more than good enough to play in one of the major European divisions. Indeed, speculation over his next home has already begun in earnest. Atletico Madrid are apparently keen to reinforce their Villarreal link and have registered their interest in the latest star to roll out of El Madrigal.
The forward has already passed his season-best haul with 22 goals. Moreover, he has done so in one of the most competitive leagues in the world, adding even more merit to his achievement. Cedric has emerged as a natural goalscorer, adept at playing off the back of the defence. As well as a decent technical ability, he is extremely dangerous when played into space and has formed a budding partnership with Roberto Soldado.
Villarreal go into their Europa League semi-final against Liverpool as underdogs. The Spaniards know, however, that the gap between the two sides is not insuperable. Bakambu will be key to the club’s performance, and is ready to reproduce his best form to upset the English giants and send the Yellow Submarine into the final.