It is hard to miss Mainz striker Ludovic Ajorque. The Frenchman measures 1 meter 96 and his shaved head makes him stand out in a crowd. It is however easy to pigeonhole him as a tall, physical target man, who you can simply knock long balls up to for him to flick on. The 29-year-old though is more than just a big man upfront as he has demonstrably shown since joining the Nullfünfer in the January transfer window.
Mainz pulled off quite a coup in signing him from French side Strasbourg with a number of clubs also looking to bring him in (Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers from the Premier League). Indeed, Hertha Berlin had looked to sign him last summer but were put off by the €15 million price tag. Mainz paid just €6 million six months later.
It took the Reunion-born striker a few games to acclimatise to the Bundesliga, but after scoring his first goal in Mainz’s 4-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach, he has become a key part of the club’s success which has pushed them to withing touching distance of a possible European place next season.
Ajorque has three goals and three assists to his name in ten appearances and against RB Leipzig at the weekend he was the obvious Man of the Match. He scored a Mainz’s second goal with an exquisite finish on the ground showing a very deft touch for such a colossus. Indeed, he caused Josko Gvardiol and Willi Orban problems all game.
“You shouldn’t underestimate ‘Ludo’. Despite his size, he has a very good technique and he thrives on his good instincts” explained teammate Stefan Bell. “He has a rare combination of great physique and good technique. He’s changed our game, he’s made us more variable, the players around him have more freedom”.
Praise for the striker has come from trainer Bo Svensson too. “Ajorque is a quality player who also manages to improve his team-mates. He creates space for them. In addition, Ludo is a really great guy. It just fits” he said following Saturday’s win at the Red Bull Arena.
With Karim Onisiwo and Jonathan Burkardt out injured at the moment the club needed a Plan B in attack. The way he is playing now however means that Ludovic Ajorque is very much going to the Plan A going forward for Mainz.
When it comes to judging the best Bundesliga signing of the winter transfer window, the giant Frenchman is going to be up there in the conversation (although teammate Andreas Hanche-Olsen may have something to say about that).