Kevin Gameiro – who has joined Atlético Madrid subject to a medical – has had to overcome serious injury to reach the top. UEFA.com charts his unconventional yet remarkable rise.
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The 2015/16 campaign was when strikers around Europe thrust themselves into the limelight.
Athletic Club's Aritz Aduriz registered 36 goals in all competitions at the age of 35 and former non-league forward Jamie Vardy spearheaded Leicester City's barely believable march to the Premier League title.
In southern Spain, meanwhile, Sevilla's Kevin Gameiro took up the mantle from the departed Carlos Bacca, scoring a career best 29 goals.
Gameiro – who struck in every round as his club won the UEFA Europa League for an unprecedented third successive season – today joined Atlético Madrid on a four-year contract subject to a medical. UEFA.com reviews his career to date.
Early promise and pain
Gameiro, 29, makes no bones about the fact he always thought he would be a footballer when he roamed the streets of his home town of Senlis, on the outskirts of Paris, dreaming of emulating his idol Ronaldo. He started realising that dream in the reserves at Strasbourg aged 16, making his senior debut in Ligue 1 barely a year later.
He scored his first professional goals in a dramatic UEFA Cup game against Crvena zvezda in December 2005, two late headers salvaging a 2-2 draw. A dream first season had a nightmare ending, however, as Gameiro ruptured knee ligaments and missed the remainder of the campaign, which ended with Strasbourg relegated.
A lust for goals
It was not until he switched to Lorient in June 2008 that Gameiro realised his true potential, posting 11 league goals in his first season, 17 in his next and 22 in his third and final term with the Brittany team.
That convinced Paris Saint-Germain to swoop in summer 2011, Gameiro joining the club he had supported as a boy. A runners-up finish behind Montpellier was followed by the Parc des Princes outfit winning the title in 2012/13, when Gameiro, in a reduced role, still managed an impressive eight goals in seven league starts.
Making Sevilla his home
Hungry for regular football, Gameiro succumbed to the advances of Sevilla, who tried to sign him a year earlier, in July 2013. Though he started fewer games than Bacca, Gameiro outscored his strike partner with 21 goals in his first campaign and converted the decisive penalty against Benfica in the UEFA Europa League final.
Seventeen goals and another UEFA Europa League triumph followed the next season, but it was not until Bacca left for Milan that Gameiro showed his true worth. Gameiro gave a simple explanation for his most fruitful season, telling UEFA.com: "The most important thing as a striker is to be confident. This season I feel completely confident and everyone trusts me."
If Gameiro can maintain that level of belief at Atlético, the Rojiblancos will have made some signing.