Karl Toko Ekambi is a Cameroonian international striker who can operate as a conventional centre-forward or cutting in from a wide position on either side of the attack. He has a strong physical presence, poses an aerial threat inside the box and is useful at holding the ball up to bring his team mates into the game.
He initially joined Lyon on loan from Spanish club Villareal in January 2020 to bolster the front line in the wake of Memphis Depay’s cruciate ligament injury, and he impressed enough for the Lyon management to make the move permanent at the end of the season for a fee of €11.5 million on a four year contract.
He hadn’t exactly been prolific during his first few months in Lyon, finding the net only twice, but his all-round game offered something a bit different to Lyon’s other attacking options, so he proved a useful addition to their squad.
His work rate off the ball far exceeds that of Moussa Dembele or Bertrand Traore and he’s much better than them at retaining possession, so he was invaluable during Lyon’s run to the Champions League semi-finals where he became a vital outlet to relieve pressure against stronger opposition.
Ever the willing runner, if Toko Ekambi can rediscover his killer instinct in front of goal then he will become one of the club’s most valuable assets. Having recently turned 28, he should be in his prime and ready to prove his worth for his new club.
Toko Ekambi was born and raised in Paris and began his career with Paris FC in the National division. His third full season at the club, 2013-14, proved to be his breakthrough season. He found the net 14 times to finish second top scorer and earn his first transfer, stepping up a division to Sochaux in Ligue 2.
His two seasons at Sochaux produced more double-figure goal returns and a first call up to the Cameroon squad. His performances started to attract the attention of Ligue 1 clubs and it was Angers who moved for him in summer 2016, shortly before he scored the first of his three international goals to date, in a 2-0 win for Cameroon against Gambia.
Toko Ekambi’s first season at Angers brought him ten goals (all competitions) and a Coupe de France final appearance against Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade de France, which was lost 1-0 in injury time. He also won the African Cup of Nations in February 2017 with Cameroon, although he didn’t feature in the final.
His second season was his most prolific thus far, his 17 goals making him the ninth top scorer in Ligue 1 and earning him a big money move to Villareal for around €20 million in summer 2018. He carried on in Spain where he had left off in France, registering 18 goals in all competitions in his first season there and had racked up a further six in 2019-20 before Lyon made their move for him.