Brazil went home after Zinedine Zidane’s masterclass, while Bayern stumbled, drawing with Borussia Mönchengladbach, Union Berlin and VfB Stuttgart before losing to Augsburg (their opponent on Saturday). Among the changes they made was giving Erik Maxime Chupo-Moting more playing time. Who would have thought that the 33-year-old striker, whom Bayern signed for free from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) as Lewandowski’s backup and who played just two starts last season, would become the team’s highest scorer in 2022-23 in less than six months.
In seven Bundesliga games since last October against Freiburg, Chupo-Moting has scored seven goals and given two assists. Among the 17 goals he has scored this season is a goal against PSG on Wednesday that helped Bayern win 3-0 and reach its 13th Champions League quarterfinal in the last 15 years. Before his shot in the 61st minute, Choupo-Moting’s goal was cancelled out because Muller was in an offside position.
The goal that counted was a simple strike after Leon Goretzka and Muller combined to deny Marco Verratti a chance. It was Choupo-Moting’s fourth goal in all his appearances in all competitions. By then, Bayern had seen enough to sign him to a new one-year contract and, according to media reports, double his salary to about $5 million.
Choupo is a master ball handler and has been performing very well in recent years. He helped us fill a gap in the first half of the season at the center forward position, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic told reporters earlier this month. Nagelsmann sees him as more than just No. 9. He can play as a No. 10, the 35-year-old manager said last October. Chupo-Moting can play second striker and wide forward in addition to a center forward. So, what the Cameroonian player might not like.
All of this makes Choupo-Moting’s time at Stoke City in 2017-18, and at Mainz and Schalke before that, unrealistic. He barely scored at Stoke, and while he did so more regularly in Germany, the returns were modest: 44 goals in six seasons. Nevertheless, Thomas Tuchel, his manager at Mainz, knew what Choupo-Moting was capable of and brought him to PSG. As part of a team that included Kylian MBappé, Edinson Cavani and Neymar, Choupo-Moting scored nine goals in 51 games, including the 2020 Champions League final. At Bayern, when Lewandowski was injured, Chupo-Moting was an adequate substitute.
All solid, but unimpressive. And now this season everything has changed.Chupo-Moting went to the World Cup, scoring an average of a goal every 56 minutes. He started every game in Doha and scored in that very 3-3 draw against Serbia. Mane was injured by then, and the polyglot forward more than made up for the gap. With his ability to bring players like Jamal Musiala into the game and a reputation for not being prone to self-doubt, Choupo-Moting is a cane without which Bayern will falter.