Doubtless, it helped that his former coach at Mainz, Tuchel, was now in charge in Paris. “He knew me,” Choupo-Moting said. “He knew what I could do, he knew I could still improve, that I could help a big team.” Despite all those years of waiting, and now closer to his 30th birthday than his teenage promise, the striker felt exactly the same way.
Looking back, the transition has not been an easy one. Choupo-Moting had spent a decade or so in the relative shadows; the lights shine brighter at P.S.G., and Bayern, than they do anywhere else. “You have big players in front of you, players with bigger names, players with a lot of quality,” he said. Both in Paris and more recently in Munich, he had to wait for his chance to come.
When it did, he felt he belonged. “You hear people ask why this player is at that club or another player at another club,” he said. “But you have to remember: Big clubs have a lot of quality people observing players.
“If a player gets there, they deserve to be there. After that, it is on you, on the player, to show your potential, to show you deserve to stay at that level. With time, the quality you have determines if you get the chance. Some players get that chance straightaway. Sometimes you have to work more. But if you work hard, success will come.”
That is what Choupo-Moting has found. At both clubs, it was assumed he would be a deputy to the frontline stars. At both, he more than proved his own worth. He scored a 93rd-minute winner in a Champions League quarterfinal for P.S.G. Though he largely had to fill in around Robert Lewandowski at Bayern, his numbers were impressive, averaging nearly a goal in every 90 minutes of playing time in the Bundesliga last season, and closer to two goals per 90 in the Champions League. When Robert Lewandowski departed Bayern last summer, the club decided not to acquire a replacement, preferring instead to trust in Choupo-Moting.