The Bundesliga is the hotbed of Europe’s finest talents nowadays. Whether it’s Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland tearing up defences or Alphonso Davies running down the wings, it’s almost normal to find some of the most exciting youngsters doing their thing in Germany’s top-flight. A newcomer in the ‘League of Extraordinary youngsters’ is Bayer Leverkusen’s Edmond Tapsoba. Before making the switch from the Estadio Afonso Henriques to the Bay Arena, he was relatively unknown to the majority of Europe’s elite.
Born in Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou, 15 year old Tapsoba signed up for his Hometown club, Salitas FC before joining rivals US Ouagadougou a year later. Despite not making a first team appearance for both sides, he was snapped up by Portuguese second tier outfit, Leixoes. At the time, he was already a full Burkinabé international, debuting in a 1-0 loss to Uzbekistan on 24 August 2016 at just 17 years, six months and 22 days.
He would spend a solitary season at Leixoes, impressing in their youth ranks — where former Barcelona, Portugal and Chelsea playmaker Deco reached out to him — “I didn’t believe it was him, I mean, it couldn’t be Deco! It had to be a joke or something”. Tapsoba told The Athletic in a recent interview. “Deco spoke to me about where he saw my career going, what he thought could be achieved and offered to help guide me. When someone like Deco speaks, you listen”. Today, Deco’s agency, ‘D20 Sports’ represents Tapsoba and his value has grown astronomically. Arriving in Portugal with a valuation less than a million Euros, he’s currently valued at €18 million and he’s the 62nd most valuable player in German Football, according to Transfermarkt.
In the Portuguese second tier, Tapsoba earned a reputation for his pinpoint Penalty kicks. It’s not surprising how good he is from the spot, as seen in how he seamlessly controls the ball with comparisons to Bayern München’s Jérôme Boateng. Many say he’s a reincarnation of the 2014 World Cup winner. In the 2018/19 season after leaving Leixoes, he played every minute of the season for the Vitória Guimarães B team, making 30 Appearances and scoring 7 goals. These extraordinary displays must have caught the eye of first team manager Ivo Vieira.
Vieira named the Burkinabé wonderkid in his squad for the 2019/20 Liga NOS season and he did not hesitate to throw him in the deep end. On 18 August 2019, at just 20 years, six months and 16 days, Tapsoba made his Portuguese top-flight debut for Guimarães in a 1-1 draw with Boavista. He would go on to play 32 games in total with his finest performance coming against FC Porto, scoring via the spot in a 2-1 loss in the Allianz Cup. As deadline day of the 2020 winter transfer window approached, Leverkusen weren’t the only Club eyeing Tapsoba. Premier League duo of Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers joined in the race for the 6″3 defensive stalwart.
Unfortunately for them, Bayer Leverkusen, led by the man who took Germany to the 2002 World Cup Final Rudi Völler, won the race for Tapsoba. Before midnight on deadline day of the January 2020 transfer window, an €18 million move was completed. Leverkusen were to face Dortmund that same weekend and the unexpected happened. First team manager Peter Bosz (who also led Ajax to the 2017 Europa league final), showed no hesitation in putting the 21 year old straight into the heat of the action and what a game it turned out to be. It was pure ‘German Football Madness’ — it ended up being a scintillating 4-3 come-from-behind win over high-flying Borussia Dortmund, led by another teenager – Erling Haaland. It was the first time Haaland failed to score since switching Red Bull Salzburg for the Signal Iduna Park. It was quickly followed by a dramatic 3-2 win over Union Berlin.
In both games, he showed his class and composure with his 106 touches against Union (more than any other player) and completed 74 passes against Dortmund (also more than any other player). In his 14 Bundesliga appearances his impact has been clear for all to see. He makes an average of 1.7 tackles and 2.8 clearances per game, while showing his dribbling skills by completing 0.4 dribbles per game according to WhoScored. Believe me, that’s a whole lot for a Centre Back. After the game against Dortmund, Leverkusen General Manager Völler, had this to say: “His really big potential makes Edmond Tapsoba a very interesting proposition as a player”. Speaking to Bundesliga.com, the German Legend added “We are very happy we’ve been able to complete this transfer”.
If you have doubts about Tapsoba’s maturity on the ball and you haven’t watched him play, take a look at the players who completed 20+ passes in Bundesliga game week 26. Despite ranking 3rd amongst the Best Passers behind Düsseldorf’s Manuel Sabottka and Frankfurt’s David Abraham — with the duo having 100% and 96.9% passing accuracy respectively with a combined 58 passes completed between them — Tapsoba’s passing accuracy stood at 96.8% with a staggering 95 completed passes. Any top club looking to pry the 21 year old from Leverkusen’s grasps just six months down the line would be required to shell out a sizeable fee, an increase on the €18 million they paid for him.
His recent displays would obviously require such action. Should Premier League giants Arsenal, look into the Transfer window for a David Luiz replacement, Tapsoba should be that man. His youth and ability to slot straight into first team action with ease makes him an ideal target that Mikel Arteta would love to build his defence around. But it’s highly unlikely, seeing that Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares have both made their switch to the Emirates complete.
For now, Tapsoba remains a Bayer Leverkusen player. Calmly separating opponents from the ball in front of empty stands but a global audience. Giving fans of Die Werkself and a host of suitors a chance to soak up his majestic displays. One thing is sure, it would be no easy task keeping Tapsoba away from the claws of Europe’s Elite clubs.