Toko Ekambi: 'Hard work is paying off!'
With 17 goals and four assists to his name, Karl Toko Ekambi is currently sitting comfortably just behind the likes of Neymar and Radamel Falcao in the Ligue 1 scoring charts. The Cameroon international is in the form of his life.
Looking back on Angers' season so far, one name comes to mind before anything else: Karl Toko Ekambi.
"I'm 25 now, and I feel I've reached a really good level playing in the top flight," Toko Ekambi told the Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "If I feature alongside players who are used to scoring so regularly it can only be because I deserve it. I've gone from the third division through Ligue 2 to where I am today. My hard work is paying off!"
In just his second season of top-flight football, Angers' star man has blitzed his return of seven goals from the previous campaign. With five games to go, the 20-goal mark is now a realistic target.
"I feel I've progressed in tandem with the club," explained the red-hot striker. "This is Angers' third consecutive season in Ligue 1, and a lot of the lads have been here the whole time so we all know each other well now. As for me, I went from playing on the wing to leading the line, so naturally I'm scoring more."
Outside the lines
Indeed, coach Stéphane Moulin can take great credit for repositioning the Parisian-born forward, although taking up an instinctive wide position to start an attack can prove hugely effective, as Toko Ekambi proved against Montpellier back in December.
"I played two one-twos in that move before finishing it off, and I think that it's a huge asset for a team to be able to put together that sort of move, and it goes against what you often hear - that we play a physical game," he asserted. "I like to be involved in the build-up and combine with my team-mates. I don't focus solely on scoring goals; they seem to come naturally. I'm not a selfish player, that's why I make assists too."
Stand and fight
The former Sochaux man is enjoying a real purple patch at the moment, having scored six goals and created another in his past seven outings. And thanks to such shining performances, Angers have gone from second-bottom to the verge of safety since Toko Ekambi turned down big money moves away from the Stade Raymond Kopa in January.
"We set ourselves the goal of staying up at the start of the season. That has always been the aim, and I was a vital part of the club's plan to ensure safety. I couldn't let my team-mates down, I didn't want to see them go down, I'm not like that," Toko Ekambi declared. "I couldn't risk being selfish and see the club that gave me my chance in the top flight get relegated."
However, with Angers all but safe now, Toko Ekambi will be weighing up his options ahead of a potential summer departure.
"On the back of a season like the one I'm having, with a club like Angers, there will be clubs going after me, and it's only natural that I want to play at the highest level."