Who is Randal Kolo Muani, the French submarine that brings in the fire?

Randal Kolo Muani, 23, was so stunned to be called up to the national team that he didn’t pick up the first call that flashed on his phone.

He would come on in the final, coming on as an early substitute and igniting the final fire of the first half, earning the penalty for Mbappé.

The semi-final with Morocco had remained on the edge, despite Theo Hernandez scoring quite early for France, as Morocco continued to ping the French citadel, and late equalizers were sort of the theme. It was under these conditions that substitute Muani sprinted in and hit the ground almost running, directing a pass like a neat hole-on-one putt from an Mbappé pass to puncture the Moroccan hopes for good.

But two months ago, despite France reeling under a mess of injuries to big names Pogba, Benzema, Kimpembe and Kante, Muani could hardly have believed he would make the World Cup squad. When the call came, he was stunned that he didn’t respond. “I didn’t immediately answer the first phone call. I answered the second call and got the coach right away. He told me to come as soon as possible and then we made arrangements for me to come as soon as possible,” he told onefootball. com.

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The 23-year-old had previously played his first two games for France as a substitute against Austria and Denmark in the Nations League in September.

Conflicting emotions ran through him and he candidly added: “I was shocked when I saw that I had been chosen, so I called immediately. Honestly, I was happy for myself, but very disappointed for Christopher Nkuku (who got injured). It’s kind of special, so I messaged him when I was on the plane. We go in there and jump straight into the deep end. We have to be ready and I think we will be ready,” he would say.

Already finished

However, those who have followed Muani in the Bundesliga think he has always been the real deal. The Eintracht Frankfurt striker was something of a revelation even before he replaced Nkuku, the RB Leipzig striker who suffered a leg injury in training. In a breakaway season, Muani had scored eight goals in 25 appearances for Frankfurt.

The World Cup squad was a half-dozen injury revolving door, with Raphael Varane still recovering and Lucas Hernandez – Theo’s brother – tearing his ACL against Australia in the opener. It’s when Didier Deschamps called Muani.

Frankfurt, however, had already buzzed about him. Deutsche Welle.com would call him the “Breakout star, the great Muani”.

His missile finishes got commentators squealing. Taste this breathless stream: “And again, Kolo Muani’s fingerprints are everywhere. Mr Assist. Look at Kolo Muani, full of running, full of ideas.”

Although Mbappé had arranged well for Muani (both born in the same hospital), it was Muani who earned himself the reputation of being ‘Mr Assist’.

In fact, there was a sharp corner finish, a la Messi-to-Molina, with Frankfurt’s Jesper Lindstrom scoring a pass threaded through the eye of a needle with three pairs of defenders’ legs crowding the path but missing. “Three defenders couldn’t contain him, and the assist on a scale with Jesper Lindstrom taking advantage of the pass…” would contradict the one who announced the match against Werder Bremen.

Yet another devastating finish – this time he scored himself – saw “Muani wrapped around the goalkeeper tight… like that matters to him”, the commentator chuckled and named him Frankfurt’s man of the season so far

Muani would tell DW.com, “I am a provocative person…who likes to run fast with the ball, who likes to always play ahead. I’m just happy to be on the field. But my preference is for the front, be it left or right. When I’m on the field, I’m happy.”

Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Djibril Sow would testify to the nickname Mr Assist: “What I like about him is that he gives a lot of assists. He’s not a selfish striker and he helps a lot in attack.” Lindstrom would say, “He’s so good. He’s so important. I think we fit together so well offensively. This guy is just incredible. He’s fast, strong, technical, he can shoot. Just a big star.”

A must-start for Frankfurt now, his stock has risen, although the Bundesliga side want him at the forefront of their attack until at least 2024, knowing he could make €80-100m one day, according to Bundesliga News. After joining Nantes on a free transfer to Frankfurt last summer, his time at Die Adler’ netted eight goals and 11 assists. At Nantes in his first two seasons in the French league, Muani had gone on a rampage with 21 goals and 13 assists, though only Frankfurt courted him.

They even caused legal trouble for it, but the Germans would burst in and claim it for €20 million. Bundesliga News quoted coach Oliver Glasner as calling Kolo Muani a “constant source of unrest (in a good way)” while Nantes Director of Scouting Mathieu Bideau said “Kolo does everything fast and light, like he’s on a cloud.”

Yet tight spaces had become a territory to rule for Muani. “Kolo Muani is an underrated presser and defenders battle him in tight spaces. It’s so hard to push the striker off the ball as the Frenchman is one of the best players in all of Europe when it comes to completed dribbles. His goal against Werder Bremen on matchday 4 stands out, where he single-handedly slipped past three opposing defenders to find the back of the net And, of course, Frankfurt supporters won’t forget Kolo Muani’s winner against Sporting, who won the magically sent the club to the round of 16 of the Champions League’, Bundesliga News would write.

The league’s website praised Frankfurt’s scouting department “for being able to find such talent that was missed by all the “big clubs”.

Muani’s infusion has made Frankfurt dream of Champions League ambitions. “Jesper Lindstrøm, Mario Götze and Daichi Kamada wouldn’t be in such good shape without the new French international up front. The European dreams of the 50+1 club are alive and well with their star striker providing Eintracht supporters with more extraordinary Champions League nights than they could have ever imagined.”

That is why Sport Bild was told by club official Krösche: “We have absolutely no intention of selling him next summer. At Randal you can see that we are the right place for him and that it would help his development to be with us for years to come.”

At the World Cup, Muani came on as a substitute and immediately scored in the quickest time, also pointing to France’s wealth of options up front, even after Giroud was substituted. Much more will be heard from Randal Muani.

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