If Randal Kolo Muani is not feted as the Bundesliga bargain of the season at the end of the current campaign, then I am fully prepared to eat any piece of headwear you choose from my limited collection of headwear. Eintracht Frankfurt’s summer free signing from Nantes is already making observers sit up and take note after a series of highly impressive displays for the Adler.
When Bayern were busy hitting Frankfurt for six in the Bundesliga’s opening fixture of the season, the one bright spark was the consolation goal scored by a little-known French striker. Taking full advantage of a mis-control from Manuel Neuer, substitute Randal Kolo Muani robbed the talismanic keeper and coolly stroked home his first goal in the German top flight. It may have been his first, but no doubt he is set to score plenty more.
The boy from the banlieue
Like French superstar Kylian Mbappé Kolo Muani was born in the Paris suburb of Bondy, and Frankfurt fans will be hoping the comparison doesn’t end there. His talent was recognised at an early age, but due to suffering from Osgood-Schlatter disease as a child, he didn’t gain entry to any of the fames football academies. He joined Nantes at 16 and made his first team debut in the 2018-19 season. A loan at Boulogne followed and when he returned, he hit the ground running hitting double figures in both the following seasons.
European scouts were noticing him and amongst the most interested was the then-Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic, who was already having conversations about the player in the autumn of 2020. Indeed, Eintracht had initially looked at signing Kolo Muani in 2021 but were not prepared to meet Nantes transfer demand and waited for his contract to expire.
The fact that Liverpool, Tottenham, Southampton, and Marseille were left disappointed that Eintracht got in first to sign the talented forward is testament to the potential he has. Speaking at the time, board member Markus Krösche said: “Randal Kolo Muani brings attributes that we need for our game. He’s fast, robust and a very good finisher. He’s also tactically versatile and can play in several different systems, which will give us even more flexibility next season. Randal’s potential has attracted the interest of many clubs. We’re very pleased that he wants to take his next steps at Eintracht Frankfurt.”
Hitting the ground running
His substitute appearance and goal against Bayern Munich was followed by another appearance from the bench against Real Madrid in the Super Cup where his introduction sparked an improvement and increased danger for the Spanish defence.
His first start came in the 1-1 draw at Hertha where he provided the assist for Daichi Kamada’s equaliser. The Werder Bremen defence were run ragged by him in the 4-3 win at the Weser Stadion with Kolo Muani setting up Mario Götze for the first and scoring Frankfurt’s second. There were two more assists against RB Leipzig in the 4-0 win and the fact that Rafael Borré and Lucas Alario are being kept out of the team is justified based on his displays thus far.
Aside from pace, trickery, and direct running, which has brought early comparisons with Thierry Henry, Kolo Muani has shown a highly altruistic side to his game where he is as happy providing assists for others as he is scoring himself. His set-up for Daichi Kamada’s opener against RB Leipzig was a prime example where he could have taken on the header himself but cushioned for the better placed teammate.
He never lets defenders rest, his intelligent running into space causes problems and he has good technique and ball control when in possession. Qualities that have already impressed his teammates. “He’s incredibly fast, duel strong and big, which makes him a different element near the penalty area” midfielder Sebastian Rode has said. “It’s important to get him used to our system as quickly as possible, then it will give the team a lot of pleasure.”
Goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, who came up against Kolo Muani during his time with PSG added, “Randal has a lot of speed, is very strong in one-on-one combat and keeps coming back to balls that were thought lost.”
The acquisition of Kolo Muani must go down as another big win for the Eintracht Frankfurt scouting department and the fact that the club eventually signed him for nothing makes it all the more satisfying. No doubt the name of Randal Kolo Muani will be heard a lot during the forthcoming season.