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Replacing Jackson Martínez: Porto’s new striking hotshot Vincent Aboubakar

Playing as a centre forward for Porto has been something of an honour over recent years, with the Portuguese giants possessing star names to lead their line over a period of noteworthy success.

The likes of Hulk, Radamel Falcao and most recently Jackson Martínez have had goal-laden spells at the Estádio do Dragão, with the Primeira Liga side faced with the significant challenge of replacing these hotshots once they are inevitably poached away by leading European clubs.

The challenge this summer was identifying a striker to fill Martínez’s shoes, after the Colombian marksman departed for Atlético Madrid in a bumper transfer.

Although potentially not as big a name as Hulk or Falcao, the South American has been the Portuguese top flight’s most lethal player for the last three seasons, winning the golden boot award consecutively over his trio of campaigns in the Iberian country.

A total of 67 league goals in 89 matches is a strike rate that would be difficult for any team to replace, but early signs are that Porto’s world-renowned scouting system has picked another gem to be the spearhead of the team’s attack.

Vincent Aboubakar joined the Portuguese side from modest Ligue 1 outfit Lorient last summer and was largely used as Martínez’s deputy in 2014-15.

This season the Cameroon international has been Porto’s first-choice number nine and he is repaying manager Julen Lopetegui’s faith with a red-hot start to the season.

Aboubakar has netted four goals in his first five league fixtures of the season and played a key role in Porto beating fierce domestic rivals and main title challengers Benfica at the weekend.

Vincent AboubakarThe African attacker backed this up with a brace in the Champions League last week, with the 23-year-old finishing two gilt-edged chances with aplomb to see the Portuguese side draw 2-2 away to Dynamo Kiev.

In all, with Aboubakar also playing a key role for his country in friendlies and African Cup of Nations qualifiers of late, the on-form striker has hit nine goals in the ten games he has featured in since June.

Not unlike Martinez, Aboubakar offers a physical presence in the centre forward position and keeps opposition defenders guessing with his excellent movement off the ball and searing pace.

The striker has an impressive strike rate in recent years, with 16 Ligue 1 goals for a limited Lorient outfit in his sole campaign in the French top flight.

He was  also one of the few Cameroonian players to cover themselves in any glory at last summer’s World Cup as the African nation crashed out in the group stages.

The fact that Porto have bucked their recent trend of recruiting from the South American market in Aboubakar’s case is interesting, with Lopetegui also having a role in bringing players from Spain and other European nations to Portugal also.

The fact that the striker was captured for a bargain €3 million again highlights the Estádio do Dragão outfit’s eye for a deal, with it looking increasingly likely that he will be worth a lot more than that in the near future.

Porto are unbeaten and on top of the Primeira Liga table after five games and look like a side motivated to end Benfica’s 24-month reign of domestic dominance.

Aboubakar and his goal threat will be a key element in their chances of achieving this, with the African forward seemingly set to add his name to the venerable list of number nines to don the blue and white jersey in recent years.

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