Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Youssoufa Moukoko: seizing their chance


They are at different ends of their career, but Bayern Munich striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Youssoufa Moukoko are both surpassing expectations this season.

bundesliga.com examines what they have in common - and what sets them apart…

With Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland leaving Germany over the summer, Bayern and Dortmund would have been wondering how to compensate for their departures.

Lewandowski helped himself to an incredible 344 goals in 375 games across all competitions for the defending German champions, after all, including 35 in the league in 2021/22. Haaland, meanwhile, scored 86 times in 89 matches for Dortmund, including 49 in 54 Bundesliga games during the two full seasons he played with BVB.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (r.) spent the last couple of seasons at Bayern Munich serving as back-up to Robert Lewandowski (l.). - Sportfoto Zink / Wolfgang Zink via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Zink

Sure, someone else would step up in their absence. Few, though, would have predicted that Choupo-Moting and Moukoko would make such an impact.

Seizing their chance

Sadio Mane was Bayern's marquee signing over the summer - and the Senegalese star has certainly made his mark. He prefers operating from the wing, however, and Choupo-Moting has become a key player through the middle with 10 goals in all competitions by the end of Matchday 14.

Julian Nagelsmann has found that playing with a more orthodox No. 9 has suited his side of late, and 33-year-old Choupo-Moting - signed in case the indefatigable Lewandowski ever needed a breather - has seized the day.

That's something Moukoko has managed to do as well. Having burst onto the Bundesliga scene as a 16-year-old, he was certainly seen as one for the future - and gradually for the present too.

Dortmund, though, had hoped that experienced former Ajax and Eintracht Frankfurt star Sebastien Haller would make up for losing Haaland. The Frenchman cruelly had his start at Dortmund delayed by illness, meaning that Anthony Modeste was brought in as an emergency addition.

Moukoko, however, has become a more important player as the season has gone on. It began as you would have expected, with a promising young attacker mostly making an impact from the bench. The 17-year-old did just that by scoring as Dortmund came from behind to win 3-1 at Freiburg on Matchday 2, but the teenager's performances soon justified more starts.

He came on to get the winner in the Matchday 7 Revierderby against Schalke before starting and netting in a memorable Klassiker draw with Bayern on Matchday 9. By the end of Matchday 14 - soon after a record-breaking double in a victory over Bochum - Moukoko had six goals and three assists in the league.

The Dortmund attacker and his Bayern counterpart are two talented players that have - for different reasons - made more of an impression that most would have expected. So how do they compare?

Watch: Analysing Choupo-Moting's recent form

The Cameroon connection

Choupo-Moting was born in Germany, and represented his native nation up to and including U21 level. With a German mother and a father from Cameroon, however, he had two countries to root for - and to play for.

The former Paris Saint-Germain and Stoke City striker made his senior debut for Cameroon ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and he would feature for the African nation at both that tournament and the 2014 edition.

"My mentality is at least as much Cameroonian [as it is German]," he has said of his decision.

Cameroon didn't make the 2018 World Cup but the Bayern forward helped them qualify for this year's event. Choupo-Moting was on target in their dramatic 2-1 extra-time victory over Algeria in a play-off in March and he has been included in Cameroon's final squad for the tournament.

Watch: All of Moukoko's goals and assists this season

Moukoko, meanwhile, was born in Yaounde and only followed his father to Germany shortly before his 10th birthday. In 2022, he returned for the first time to the Cameroonian capital - where you can find a mural depicting him in his Dortmund gear.

He told the club-produced documentary BVB 09 – Stories who we are that he didn't tell many people in Cameroon that he was going to visit, but they certainly knew about it by the end.

"It was nice to see how many people are proud of me," Moukoko said.

The Hamburg connection

Moukoko is now a Germany U21 international, of course, but he is also in line for a senior cap after being named in Hansi Flick's squad for the 2022 World Cup.

It's been quite the journey for the 17-year-old who - like Choupo-Moting - spent some time at St. Pauli. In Moukoko's case, it was for two seasons shortly after he made the daunting move from Cameroon to Hamburg.

Like Choupo-Moting, Moukoko made his first steps in football at St. Pauli in Hamburg, - Meincke Kalle via www.imago-images.de/imago images/KBS-Picture

Once his father bought him some boots, he soon began to feel right at home by scoring 23 goals in 13 games for St. Pauli's youth teams.

"Football gave him that connection,” said Baris Tuncay, his former youth coach at St. Pauli. "The other guys welcomed him into the fold and - whatever the culture shock - I think he integrated very quickly."

A fast starter… and a slow burner

Moukoko soon moved on to Dortmund and became both the Bundesliga's youngest ever player (against Hertha Berlin in November 2020, aged 16 years and one day) and the German top flight's youngest ever goalscorer (against Union Berlin in November 2020, aged 16 years and 28 days).

Choupo-Moting's journey to the very top level took a bit longer. After representing local clubs Altona 93, St. Pauli and Hamburg at youth level, he made his Bundesliga debut with the latter - aged 18 - on the opening day of the 2007/08 season.

After that, though, the 6'3" frontman played with Nuremberg, Mainz, Schalke and Stoke before moving to PSG and famously starring for them at a crucial stage in the Champions League. Now, of course, he's doing likewise at Bayern - only this time as a more regular starter.

"Whenever I play - whenever I have the chance to be on the pitch - I give 100 percent," he once said. "I just want to show my qualities."

Hard work pays off

In that sense, both forwards are very similar. Take Moukoko, who appears determined to go as far as his talent - and his dedication - can take him.

"I'm not interested in fame, but it does mean a lot to me to be in the first team," he told the Dortmund TV channel in September 2022. "I think every young player living here - or who plays in the BVB youth set-up - dreams of being in big stadiums, sitting in the bench or playing in the game.

"If you get to that stage, all that hard work you did has paid off: the training, getting up every day and going to school and training. It takes a lot of effort but ultimately if you do more you'll get the reward."

That type of attitude explains why Moukoko has already broken so many records. On Matchday 13 against Bochum, he became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to score 10 goals.

While everyone at Dortmund has hailed the swift strides Moukoko has been making, Bayern coach Nagelsmann has said that Choupo-Moting's performances have made him an indispensable starter.

With his double against Hertha on Matchday 13, after all, the veteran forward stretched his scoring streak to seven consecutive games across all competitions (and nine goals during that run). That was something only previously achieved at the club by greats such as Lewandowski and Gerd Müller.

"I know what I can do and I know I can help the team with my qualities," Choupo-Moting said after scoring with a thunderous strike in Bayern's UEFA Champions League win over Inter Milan at the start of November.

Moukoko could say something similar. He and Choupo-Moting are on different stages of their Bundesliga journey - but both seem determined to make the most of the opportunity.