IMScouting’s player to watch: Guillaume Hoarau

IMScouting’s latest player to watch is Paris Saint Germain striker Guillaume Hoarau.

The biggest surprise of the Ligue 1 season so far, PSG’s number nine is in line for a call-up to the national team in November.

Claude Makelele and Ludovic Giuly may have stolen the transfer headlines in the summer, but there is no doubt that Guillaume Hoarau is the biggest surprise for PSG so far this season.

According to IMScouting, Hoararu’s estimated market value is 800K euros, although if he continues banging in goals this is sure to increase significantly. The French press have described him as a “modern forward” and his main quality is clearly his height (6.3ft) and his physical strength. Three of his six goals this season have been headers.

Hoarau is a target striker with an excellent mentality and although he is predominantly right footed he can score with his left foot. With some of France’s world famous forwards approaching the end of their careers (e.g. Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry), the PSG hit-man looks like being part of the next wave of French national team strikers alongside Karim Benzema and Bafetimbi Gomis.

The 24-year-old target striker started his career at Youth Sports Saint Pierroise and in January 2004 he signed for Le Havre where he initially struggled for a first team place. Between 2004 and 2007, Hoarau played just 43 games for Le Havre (scoring five goals); he was loaned to Gueugnon in 2006/207 and caught the eye when he scored eight goals in 21 matches.

The 2007/8 season was by far the best campaign of his short career. Hoarau scored 28 goals in 38 matches and won three awards at the end of the season: Player of the year, top goalscorer and he also grabbed a place in the team of the year in Ligue 2.

The talented target striker’s good form was a prominent reason why Le Havre finished in first place and many of the big clubs in France (PSG and Olympique Marseille) chased after his signature with interest also reported from Arsenal.

In January 2008 PSG signed the player on a four-and-a-half year contract and immediately loaned him back to Le Havre until the end of the season. The Parisian club captured Hoarau for a ludicrously low fee of 500K euros and he is contracted to the club until 2010/2011.

During the summer, PSG, under new owners, splashed out on a number of big signings including Makelele, Giuly, Lilian Thuram (who was forced to retire not long after joining the club) and Stephane Sessegnon. Hoarau has outshined them all.

So far, during the 2008/2009 season, his first campaign at the highest level in France, Hoarau is now joint second top goal scorer behind Karim Benzema and level with Fernando Cavenaghi, with six goals in 12 games. Manager Paul Le Guen is certain of his quality and has publicly claimed that he “can be a beautiful symbol” for the club.

Marseille were on the receiving end of two goals from Hoarau last weekend and he was also involved in the third goal in a game which saw the French press describe him as a “phenomenon.” There is a large quality difference between Ligue 2 and Ligue 1 but Hoarau seems to be overcoming it and prior to the home defeat to Toulouse on Wednesday, the number nine had scored four goals in three games.

The target striker was criticized in September for missing some big chances but now he is the first choice striker at the Parisian club, edging out another new signing in Mateja Kezman. Reports in France now suggest Hoarau will be called up by beleaguered French boss Raymond Domenech in November.

PSG have had a mixed campaign so far and although they are not fighting relegation like last season, the next few weeks will illustrate whether they can put a title challenge together, or compete for a Champions League spot.

Hoarau, like his team, needs to find consistency, to truly elevate himself to the level of some of France’s best.

Video evidence of Guillaume Hoarau can be seen here.