Bundesliga | A late bloomer who laced his boots for Nuremberg and Stoke City before signing for Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, there is plenty more to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting than meets the eye. bundesliga.com puts Bayern’s Germany-born Cameroon international under the spotlight.
1) Bundesliga pedigree
Although he was most recently with Paris Saint-Germain, Choupo-Moting has a successful Bundesliga past that has stood him in good stead on his return to Germany at Bayern.
Now well into his 30s, he was just 18 when he broke through the ranks at hometown club Hamburg in 2007. Choupo-Moting made his Bundesliga debut on the opening day of the 2007/08 season. That was his only campaign in the top flight with HSV, however, before he joined Nuremberg on loan and then scored his first Bundesliga goal – against Bayern – on August 19, 2009.
Choupo-Moting (r.) scored against none other than Bayern while on loan at Bavarian rivals Nuremberg. – imago images
After his five-goal season in Bavaria, Choupo-Moting returned to Hamburg but never truly established himself in the club’s first-team again. He duly departed for Mainz – which is where his Bundesliga career began to take shape. Two 10-goal seasons in succession followed before he earned a move to Schalke, and he hit nine goals in his first term at the Veltins-Arena.
Choupo-Moting spent three campaigns in Royal Blue – making over 100 appearances in total – and he was present when a certain Leroy Sane burst onto the world football scene.
2) Late bloomer
Choupo-Moting’s two most recent clubs met in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League final but he had to bide his time to get his hands on some medals.
After playing for Hamburg, Nuremberg, Mainz, Schalke and Stoke, the first major silverware he picked up was the first of two Ligue 1 titles he won with PSG in 2018/19.
He added the Coupe de la Ligue and French Cup a year later as PSG completed a domestic treble, and only missed out on being crowned European champion by the players he has since joined in the Allianz Arena dressing room.
He has never scored more than 10 goals in a league season – he hit exactly 10 for Mainz in 2011/12 and 2013/14 – but you can be sure of one thing as soon as he pulls on the shirt: commitment with a capital ‘C’.
“Whenever I play, whenever I have the chance to be on the pitch, I give 100 per cent. I just want to show my qualities,” Choupo-Moting explained. “There are always people who encourage you, those who are sceptical, those who are positive, those who are negative – it’s part of the game.”
3) Lisbon lion
Choupo-Moting’s PSG story was expected to end in June 2020 when his contract expired. If it had, he would most likely be best known for a bizarre incident in which he prevented then-teammate Christopher Nkunku – now at RB Leipzig – from scoring in a league game.
Choupo-Moting almost inexplicably stopped the ball going into an open goal, and memes of his mishap went viral. But all was forgiven when he stepped off the bench to keep PSG’s UEFA Champions League dream alive in 2019/20.
Choupo-Moting (l.) outshone PSG teammate Neymar (r.) as they reached the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League final. – imago images
He had actually been taken off the squad list before the knockout stages with just six months left to run on his contract. But Choupo-Moting signed a two-month extension and was brought back into the squad for the ‘Final 8′ tournament in Lisbon where he wrote himself a chapter in PSG history.
Trailing 1-0 to Atalanta in the quarter-finals, Choupo-Moting came off the bench to help set up Marquinhos’ 90th-minute equaliser before firing home a dramatic winner himself three minutes into added time.
“He has a very positive character – top level,” said Thomas Tuchel – who had worked with Choupo-Moting at Mainz – when explaining the surprise decision to recruit his former charge at PSG. “Maxim can have an impact in a minute. He never loses hope and can make a difference coming off the bench.”
4) Understudy turned leading light
Choupo-Moting went to PSG knowing he wouldn’t be first choice, and arrived at Bayern fully aware that Robert Lewandowski was the number one centre-forward. Yet times have changed for the 6’3″ striker, who made 31 top-flight appearances but only 13 starts with his previous club.
Choupo-Moting scored 18 times in all competitions across his first two seasons with Bayern. Since Lewandowski left for Barcelona in summer 2022, he has helped himself to 15 in 24 games. The 33-year-old, who was named Bayern’s Player of the Month for October and has been rewarded for his career-best form with a new one-year deal through to 2024, also produced four assists in that time.
“It’s been going superbly well these past weeks,” Choupo-Moting said after scoring in seven competitive matches for the first time in his career between October and November 2022. “I’m happy about my goals, assists and game in general. We’re working hard every day in training, and that’s the result.”
Bayern teammate Serge Gnabry went as far as labelling Choups as “the best target man in the world”.
5) So close, yet…
Choupo-Moting may not have had the fairytale twilight to his career if he and Tuchel had not met in Mainz in 2011. And they probably wouldn’t have but for a dodgy fax machine and some decisive minutes six months before he got there.
Hamburg had agreed to sell him to Cologne in the winter transfer window, but the Billy Goats’ fax to the DFL to register their deadline-day purchase arrived 12 minutes after the window had closed.
Choupo-Moting first became a Bundesliga star for his moves on and off the pitch with Mainz. – imago images
There was another near-miss for him at international level.
The son of a former Cameroonian basketballer and a German mother, Choupo-Moting played for Germany up to U21 level before opting to play senior international football for his father’s homeland.
He opted out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations to focus on his club career, and without him the Indomitable Lions lived up to their nickname to be crowned champions. But despite that decision, when Clarence Seedorf took over as coach in August 2018, he named Choupo-Moting as his captain, a role he has retained under current boss Rigobert Song.
At the 2022 World Cup, the Bayern veteran has had the opportunity to add to his international haul, sweeping in an equaliser in the barnstorming 3-3 draw with Serbia to move onto 20 goals in 71 outings.