Frankfurt’s Kolo Muani emerging as Bundesliga’s new star

BERLIN (AP): Randal Kolo Muani is quickly emerging as the new star of the Bundesliga, filling a void left by the departures of Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland.

The 24-year-old France forward has started the year as he left off before the winter break — in blistering form for Eintracht Frankfurt.

So far this year, he has six goals in five games for Frankfurt. He set up another in the team’s 3-0 win over Schalke in the first game back after the winter break. He scored in both league games before the break.

“An unbelievable forward with brutal quality,” Frankfurt captain Sebastian Rode said of Kolo Muani, who equalized for a 1-1 draw at league leader Bayern Munich on Jan. 28.

Kolo Muani has nine goals and set up 10 more in the Bundesliga — more assists than any other player in the league.

Bad news for Cologne, which hosts Frankfurt on Sunday.

Kolo Muani, who joined Frankfurt on a free transfer after his contract expired with Nantes last year, scored twice to help the team reach the German Cup quarterfinals with a 4-2 win over local rival Darmstadt on Tuesday.

“I’m happy that I can show my qualities more and more and of course I benefit from my teammates, who play me in,” Kolo Muani said. “My deep runs work for my teammates who work hard for me to look good. We just work well together. Things are going really well for us at the moment.”

Last weekend, Kolo Muani was feted by the home fans who sang “Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo, Kolo Muani!” after he scored twice against visiting Hertha Berlin.

“It was a great feeling when the fans dedicated a song to me for the first time,” the player said. “I’ll keep working hard to make it happen again.”

His goals have helped Frankfurt move up to fifth in the Bundesliga, only five points behind Bayern.

“He’s an enrichment for the Bundesliga,” former West Germany captain Lothar Matthäus said after Kolo Muani scored in Munich. “I’m impressed with his performances over the whole season. He plays with joy, confidence and speed.”

Kolo Muani earned his first call-up for France in September and was part of the squad that reached the World Cup final. He scored his penalty in the shootout loss to Argentina.

So far this season, Kolo Muani has 14 goals in all competitions for Frankfurt. He has scored in each of his last four games.

Also this weekend, Bayern hosts Bochum, which was knocked out of the German Cup by Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, Dortmund visits Werder Bremen and Union Berlin travels to Leipzig.

Bayern leads Union by a point, with Dortmund two points further back. Both Union and Dortmund have won all their games so far this year.