Ike Ugbo, Troyes
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One to watch: Iké Ugbo, Troyes' PSG-slaying striker

Publish on 10/05/2022 at 22:11

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Iké Ugbo has helped fire ESTAC Troyes to Ligue 1 Uber Eats safety since joining on loan from Genk in January - including a goal against Paris Saint-Germain - but what else is there to know?

Troyes were deep in the relegation quagmire when Ugbo arrived at the Stade de l'Aube, but three short months later their top-flight status has been secured, and Ugbo is already their joint-top scorer with five goals.

 

The most recent of those helped Troyes to a 2-2 draw against champions PSG last Sunday, and l'ESTAC might fancy a tilt at Europe next term if they make his loan deal permanent this summer.

 

Back story:

 

Born in Lewisham - the birthplace of Ian Wright and Ruben Loftus-Cheek among others - to Nigerian parents in September 1998, Ugbo and his family moved to Canada when he was "four or five," but they returned to London when he was nine and he joined the Chelsea youth academy soon after.

 

A powerfully built penalty box striker, Ugbo was part of Chelsea's UEFA Youth League triumphs in 2015 and 2016 and signed his first professional contract with the Blues at 17. Despite his promise, he soon found himself as part of Chelsea's loan army, however.

 

Spells at Barnsley, MK Dons, Scunthorpe, Roda JC and Cercle Brugge followed before Genk brought him to Belgium full-time in 2021. It was during this time that Ugbo switched his international allegiance to Canada from England - after seven goals in 20 youth caps for the latter.


Style of play:

 

Now a fully fleshed-out 23-year-old, Ugbo is an all-round threat in the penalty box. His 6'1" frame allows him to dominate many a centre-back, but he also has good pace with and without the ball. Combined with his reading of the game and sense of anticipation it is little wonder he has hit the ground running in France. His five goals have come at a rate of one every 157 minutes he has played.

 

Current campaign:

 

Ugbo endured a difficult debut when Troyes were beaten 5-1 by Stade Brestois 29 in Round 24, but the next week he opened his account against Stade Rennais FC and he has since found the target against FC Nantes, AS Monaco, LOSC and, latterly, PSG.

 

Part of the Canada team who beat the USA 2-0 in January, Ugbo will hope to join Lille's Jonathan David in their attack at the winter World Cup in Qatar later this year.

 

Watch: Highlights of Troyes' 2-2 draw with PSG



What they said:

 

"I'm an exciting striker, I like to get a lot of goals, create a lot of chances. I like to excite the fans and do everything I can to help the team."

 

- Ugbo has been making good on that one!

 

"This is great news for Canada Soccer's men's national team program and the country as he's another young, top-level player with his best football years ahead of him. He's chosen to be part of this exciting journey starting with FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers. We are looking forward to finally see him in that Canada red jersey."

 

- Canada coach John Herdman after the Great White North won a three-way international tug-of-war.