Randal Kolo Muani worked tirelessly to join Paris Saint-Germain, becoming the club's third most expensive signing in history.
Now, the attacker must start producing goals to justify his 95 million euro (USD 101 million) transfer cost from Eintracht Frankfurt. Only Neymar and Kylian Mbappé cost more when they signed in 2017 for a combined 402 million euros (USD 429 million).
Kolo Muani had started his second season in Frankfurt, scoring three goals in four games, when space opened up in PSG's attack.
Lionel Messi refused the option of an extra year on his contract and headed to Inter Miami, where he has made an immediate impact. Neymar was transferred to the Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.
Kolo Muani was so keen to join PSG that he refused to practise with Frankfurt to complete the transfer, which occurred at the end of the transfer window. Joining PSG reunited him with France teammates Ousmane Dembélé and Kylian Mbappé, the trio that played in attack when France lost to Argentina in the FIFA World Cup final last year.
Mbappé and Kolo Muani are both 24 years old — Kolo Muani is two weeks older — and grew up in the Bondy neighbourhood of Paris.
They did not play together as youngsters, and neither initially joined PSG, with Mbappé heading to Monaco and Kolo Muani being signed by Nantes when he was 16.
"I was very nonchalant (at the time)," Kolo Muani admitted to the Ligue 1 website. "I don't know where I would be without interest shown by Nantes."
So joining forces with Mbappé appears to be a fantasy scenario for Kolo Muani, who is set to make his PSG debut against Nice on Friday.
The pressure on him, though, will be immense.
Kolo Muani took longer to make it through at the top level than Mbappé, who was already prolific as an 18-year-old with Monaco. When he was nearly 22, he scored his first goal in the French top division with Nantes in October 2020. Later that season, he gained national notice by scoring and assisting in Nantes' 2-1 victory over PSG.
“In my eyes, it wasn't my best game, but I'm aware that it's the one that put me in the spotlight," Kolo Muani said.
Since then, the trend has been upward.
The following season, he helped Nantes win the French Cup by scoring 12 league goals. His lightning-quick pace, poise, and deft passing gained him a move to Eintracht Frankfurt, where he discovered the UEFA Champions League, became a fan favourite, and scored 23 goals in 46 appearances.
The France team came calling, as did PSG.
“He's had a phenomenal rise. We were already following him when he was at Nantes, then he proved himself at Frankfurt and met all of our expectations,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “The transfer to PSG means he will be even more exposed. It's the flip side of the coin.”
Kolo Muani started the game alongside veteran Antoine Griezmann in a 4-4-2 formation after Mbappé was rested for a friendly against Germany on Tuesday due to a sore knee. However, Kolo Muani had a dismal game and missed several chances.
With PSG's Champions League opener against Borussia Dortmund at home on Tuesday, coach Luis Enrique may be tempted to keep Mbappé on the bench against Nice.
(With AP inputs)