In the space of just 12 months, David Moyes transformed West Ham United from relegation candidates into a team capable of competing for the European places.
Across the Channel, Julien Stephan certainly runs the Hammers boss close, at least when it comes to turning ugly ducklings into high-flying swans.
Strasbourg finished just two points above the Ligue 1 drop zone when Stephan took over for the Alsatian side in July 2021. Flash before 10 months and, as Strasbourg eventually missed out on Europe , the fact that they were still in contention for a top six spot heading into the final day is a testament to the remarkable work done by one of France’s most promising tacticians at the Stade de la Meinau.
And while Moyes’ success at the London Stadium hinges on the Scot’s ability to harness every drop of potential in his team – turning unimaginative old pros like Craig Dawson, Michail Antonio and co into players capable of performing at a much higher level – Ludovic Ajorque’s 12 goals and eight assists in 36 Ligue 1 appearances are a testament to Stephan’s superb man-management skills, his almost unrivaled ability to do good with good.
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Ajorque, a 28-year-old late centre-forward, only set foot in top-flight football in 2018/19.
But, for the second consecutive season, the 6ft 6in mountaineer has crossed the 20 combined goals and assists mark in Ligue 1. Only six players in the division have managed more.
“Ajorque has been with us for four years and has improved a lot here,” said Strasbourg president Marc Keller. Latest News from Alsace.
“We are very happy with him as a player and as a person. He has always behaved in an exemplary manner. But after all this time, he may be wondering if he needs a new challenge.
“We hope to keep him. But if he wants to leave and if a big offer is made, we will talk about it. If they (our key players) have to leave, they will be replaced. It’s part of the life of a club.
FootMercato claim West Ham were watching Ajorque closely earlier this term. It’s no secret that Moyes is desperate to bring in another centre-forward to ease the burden off Antonio’s shoulders.
And with Strasbourg making it clear they won’t get in his way if any offers come in, that may be all the motivation West Ham need to firm up their interest in a man who, like many at the stadium London, revels in confusing critics. .
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