After narrowly edging Borussia Dortmund to their 11th consecutive Bundesliga title on the final day of the season, Bayern Munich face a tall task as they look to continue their domestic hegemony under Thomas Tuchel. The Bavarian giants sit third in the table, level on 20 points with BVB, two behind league leaders Bayer Leverkusen, and one behind Stuttgart — the same team that narrowly avoided the drop in each of the past two campaigns, remaining in the top-flight after beating Hamburg in the promotion/relegation playoff last season.
Despite losing various key players like Wataru Endo (Liverpool), Borna Sosa (Ajax) and Konstantinos Mavropanos (West Ham), Stuttgart are in a position to return to the Champions League after 14 years thanks in large part to Serhou Guirassy, who became the second player in the 21st century in Europe’s top five leagues to score 14+ goals in the first eight matches of a season. The other player? Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014/15 with Real Madrid (15).
His 14 goals put him first in the European Golden Boot race and well above Harry Kane (9), Victor Okoh Boniface (7) and Jonas Wind (7) in the race for the Kicker-Torjägerkanone. In fact, he is already two goals away from matching Niclas Fullkrug and Christopher Nkunku, who finished as the joint-top scorers in Germany last season with 16 goals. The 27-year-old forward opened the scoring early on in a 3-0 win against Union Berlin before coming off due to injury, and he’ll be sidelined for the next few weeks with a hamstring problem.
Guirassy was born in Arles, located in the south of France. His first breakthrough was in France with Ligue 2 side Stade Lavallois, breaking a club record by becoming their youngest professional player at 17 years old. The 2014/15 season was his first full season where he bagged 6 goals in 29 games at an average of 0.39 goals per 90 minutes. He then moved to Lille the following season but struggled for opportunities as he vied for a spot with the likes of Portuguese international Eder at the time. Due to a lack of opportunities, he moved to Auxerre in Ligue 2 once again, where he enjoyed his time and scored 8 goals in 16 games.
Cologne gave him his first taste of German football, where he enjoyed himself for three years. This proved to be the biggest stretch and sample of top-level football that Guirassy had at this point, and he even experienced bitter disappointment as his team was relegated. He later moved back to familiar territory in Ligue 1, this time with Amiens and later at Rennes.
Last season, Guirassy once again moved back to the Bundesliga, on loan at VfB Stuttgart, where he scored 14 goals across domestic competitions. There was a whiff of Watford-ness to Stuttgart last campaign, as the revolving door opened and shut for four different managers. Guirassy ended up settling best with current manager Sebastian Hoeneß, son of legendary Bayern forward Dieter Hoeneß.
Goals against Bayern, Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg, Gladbach and Leverkusen really added to his credentials and persuaded Die Roten to sign him on a permanent basis. Flip the script a season later and he finds himself leading the line for his newly beloved as they chase Bundesliga silverware. Whether it is a sustainable run is yet to be seen, but the individual statistics he currently sits on are simply remarkable.
According to Data MB, he boasts an expectancy of 1.91 goals per 90 and is in the 100th percentile for non-penalty goals.
When comparing Guirassy to strikers such as Robert Lewandowski (22/23) and Randal Kolo Muani (23/24), the graphs look very similar and complimentary for Guirassy when taking into account that the Barcelona and PSG forwards are what the ‘complete’ package striker looks like.
A piece could be written just focusing on Guirassy’s strengths. All of his goals have shown a different level of brilliance in a particular trait. For instance, his brace against Bochum showed great movement and his other brace against Freiburg showed an ability to get on the end of crosses. A hat trick against Mainz showed agility and composure like he was in a video game.
His ability to create goals out of nothing emphasises his genius. According to One Versus One, his first goal against Freiburg had just a 0.04 xG probability as he found a pocket of space to fire home. In a similar style, his goal against Darmstadt has a 0.03 xG probability and almost resembled that goal as turned away from near the edge of the box to catch the opposition out.
He is also very much a confidence player. The perfect recipe between his role, happiness and manager has been created to make Stuttgart’s very own Frankenstein’s monster. If any concerns were to be plucked out, it would be his availability. Separate layouts of 65 days in November 2020 (ankle) and 53 days out (hip) in June 2023 have come between 7 separate match suspensions within the last 3 years.
Another would be the lack of assists. For all his attributes relating to good link-up play, he has only registered 1 assist this season, at a rate of 0.14 assists per 90. This seems to be one of the few deficiencies in his game when compared to the elites of the present game.
The lineage of strikers in European football who are late bloomers is rich in names. Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Gonzalo Higuain, Dimitar Berbatov and Ciro Immobile are to name a few. At 27, Guirassy’s best days are ahead of him yet. The sort of legacy he can leave this season is for the imagination of fanatics as we are still in October. Although, if he can keep the flame lit under his boots until May then he may mark himself as an elitist in Bundesliga history, reaching heights that nobody has reached before.
By: Abdullah Mamaniyat / @mxmnyt
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / DeFodi Images