Late last night, Town confirmed their first signing of the summer following the arrival of Belgian striker Laurent Depoitre from FC Porto for a figure in the region of £3.5 million.
Coming as a relatively unknown entity (like many of Town’s signings over the past twelve months), this piece looks to give you an insight into who Laurent Depoitre is and what he will bring to the club.
Who is Laurent Depoitre?
Born in the Belgian city of Tournai, situated on the Franco-Belgian border, Depoitre began his professional career at his hometown club RFC Tournai.
It became clear from a very early age the talent that Depoitre possessed as he began climbing up the Belgian leagues. Notably, Depoitre joined Eendracht Aalst, the same club that Town signed Nico Vaesen from almost twenty years ago.
Whilst Depoitre’s free-scoring exploits for Eendracht Aalst began to attract attention from across Europe, Depoitre opted to remain in Belgium as he joined Belgian First Division B side K.V Oostende. Depoitre’s crucial goals saw K.V Oostende promoted to the top flight of Belgian football and he continued to impress as he hit double figures in his debut season in the Belgian top-flight with the newly promoted side.
After opting against signing a new contract with K.V Oostende, Laurent Depoitre joined KAA Gent. This was where Laurent Depoitre developed a reputation across Europe. Depoitre’s 12 goals and 7 assists in just 29 Jupiler League appearances received individual and collective praise as he earned the accolade as Gent’s player of the season whilst KAA Gent went on to win the domestic double.
Laurent Depoitre remained at KAA Gent for one more season. Once again, he thoroughly impressed and gained priceless experience as he featured regularly in the Champions League for the Belgian Champions. He also earned international recognition as he gained an international cap for the Red Devils.
At the end of the season, it appeared that Laurent Depoitre would be on the move with sides from across Europe including Premier League sides Tottenham Hotspur, West Brom and Norwich City all showing an interest in signing the 28-year-old Belgian striker. However, it was Portuguese giants FC Porto who won the race for Depoitre’s signature.
However, after an unsuccessful season with the Portuguese giants, on June 23rd 2017, Laurent Depoitre opened a new chapter in his career as he joined Huddersfield Town for a club record fee as the first of undoubtedly many signings that David Wagner will make this summer.
David Wagner’s View
David Wagner’s comments about the new arrival revealed some of the reasoning behind the signing:
“I am very happy that we have made Laurent our first signing of this summer window.
“He is a proper striker; one who has played for a very good Belgium side, featured in elite European competition and who has won domestic titles.
“It is great news that we have had the opportunity to sign a player of his quality and now we will focus on getting him back to the top form he showed only a season ago.
“He scores goals and is a real worker too, so he will fit the ‘Terriers Identity’ very well. His attitude on the pitch is exactly what we need, plus he is a very good character off the field too.”
“I’m already looking forward to working with Laurent when we return to PPG Canalside for pre-season in early July.”
The Expert’s Opinion
As well as David Wagner’s comments, a brief interview with Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur explained what Town fans should expect from their latest signing.
How would you describe Depoitre’s playing style?
“He’s a rather physical. One who works hard. He was nicknamed the beast at Gent. A target man who can keep the ball and creates space for teammates.”
Do you think his playing style would suit England?
“Well, he was dreaming of the PL for a long time. Aston Villa made an offer in the winter of 15-16. Spurs, Norwich and Boro were scouting him. And West Brom made an enquiry. In the end, he ended up at Porto – not the best match for his playing style.”
How important was Laurent Depoitre at KAA Gent?
“He was one of the three important players at Gent. Along with Matz Sels and Sven Kums. A crucial player in their attacking game, bullying defenders.”
Do you think he will be a success at Huddersfield Town?
“I think he can fit. The manager likes hard working types, who never give up. Depoitre is a bright guy. He has a civil engineering degree and that’s why he played for so long in the Belgian lower leagues.”
Will Depoitre be a good signing?
On the face of it, to sign a striker who scored only a single goal last season would appear to be an underwhelming signing to make, especially considering the fact that over the course of last season, a lack of goals was identified as Town’s major weakness.
However, that would be a simplistic way to assess this signing. The main driving factor to consider about Depoitre’s relatively short unsuccessful stint in Portugal was that Depoitre was playing in a FC Porto side which didn’t suit his playing style or play to his strengths (quite literally!).
Although there were stylistic differences between FC Porto and Laurent Depoitre, that does not mean that the Belgian forward is not the same player that spearheaded KAA Gent to their domestic successes and forays into Europe.
One of the main advantages that Laurent Depoitre will have at Town is David Wagner’s system. As a striker who thrives in lone striker formations, the fluid 4-2-3-1 system with Depoitre as the main focal point could be the perfect formation to play to Depoitre’s strengths.
As well as his ability to link up play and make space for a free-roaming central attacking midfielder, Town’s natural width and overlapping full-backs will provide plenty of opportunities for Laurent Depoitre to receive the service he needs as a penalty box striker.
If the rumours are true and David Wagner is looking to bring in wingers with renowned end-product coupled with Tommy Smith and Chris Lowe’s already known quality in the final third, Depoitre could be supplied with all the service he needs to be a success at Town.
Whilst his physicality, experience, and footballing ability all are impressive facets of the Belgian striker, it is Depoitre’s personality that has attracted David Wagner’s attention. Despite Town’s astronomical rise to the Premier League, David Wagner will have no place or time for egotistical characters. Depoitre instead comes across as
Depoitre instead comes across as a hard working honest intelligent centre-forward who will give it his all every single week. Despite his size, Depoitre’s work ethic and willingness to press is one of the main reasons why I think he will slot into David Wagner’s system perfectly.
If David Wagner can help Depoitre re-find his form and self-belief from just a single season ago, the Belgian centre-forward could be a real steal for Town at such a modest price for a Premier League signing.