These footballers have everything in their arsenal to succeed playing for the elite clubs in the future.
Ligue 1 continues to be a home to some of the most exciting young talents in world football. The French clubs have built incredible academies that constantly produce players capable of making the grade at any club across Europe. Moreover, in the French league, the youngsters receive sufficient game time to continue their development whilst there is no undue pressure on them to perform at an astoundingly high level during their budding years.
Most clubs in France have adopted this model of developing young players, giving them enough opportunity to express themselves before eventually shipping them off to some of the bigger clubs in Europe for huge financial sums. This is the preferred model as it is profitable, reasonable, and helps clubs to become more self-sustainable. All these factors have resulted in the emergence of a spectacular conveyor belt of talent in France ready to take the footballing world by storm.
Here are the five best among them.
Rayan Cherki (Olympique Lyonnais)
Every once in a while, there emerges a talent that blows away his audience with dazzling wizardry and appears destined to ascend to the top. In this case, Olympique Lyonnais’ latest prodigy Rayan Cherki is the name on everyone’s lips in France as the 16-year-old is already touted to become a bonafide superstar in the game.
Even before making his first-team debut for Lyon at 16 years and 23 days, Cherki had made waves with his rapid progression in the famed academy. A mesmerizing dribbler possessing immaculate close control and an outrageous bag of tricks, the prodigious forward became the second youngest ever debutant (16 years and 102 days) in the Champions League when he came on as a substitute in the game against Zenit in November 2019.
His wide range of skill set means he will flourish in any position across the frontline but would be suited probably on the right-hand channel. He has registered five goals and one assist across four matches in the UEFA Youth League this season, whilst making six appearances for the first-team. Regardless of the extent of his involvement, there is a safe bet that you will be hearing more of him in the future.
Eduardo Camavinga (Stade Rennais FC)
Next up on the list is 17-year-old Eduardo Camavinga who has grabbed attention with his mature performances in the center of the park for Stade Rennais. Born in Angola, he moved to France when he was two and rose through the ranks at the Rennes academy. He became the youngest ever player to represent Rennais when he made his professional debut for the French outfit in the 3-3 draw against Angers SCO in the Ligue 1 in April 2019.
Since then, he has established himself as a central figure for the French outfit and has shown maturity way beyond his years. The defensive midfielder displays good positioning to thwart opposition attacks and makes the right decisions to swiftly progress the play when he wins possession. He is also a good passer and does not look flustered when the opposition presses him. His steady performances have attracted attention from a host of top European clubs including the mighty Real Madrid and it may be only a matter of time before we see Camavinga move to one of Europe’s elite teams from Ligue 1.
Boubacar Kamara (Olympique de Marseille)
20-year-old defender Boubacar Kamara is another highly rated talent making a name for himself in the French league. The youngster received his football education at Ligue 1 outfit Marseille and has been a regular fixture in their first-team during the past couple of years. His tally of 2141 minutes on the field in the league last season highlights his importance and rise in stature at the club.
Like most modern-day center backs, Kamara is proficient at carrying the ball forward, is a great athlete, and has sound defensive qualities. He has also been deployed in central midfield reflecting his versatility and resourcefulness in different roles. He reads the game well and accordingly, made 37 interceptions in the previous campaign. If he manages to stay away from injuries and keeps developing at a steady rate, the talented defender could carve a successful career at the highest level for club as well as country.
Houssem Aouar (Olympique Lyonnais)
Houssem Aouar is one of the most talented youngsters in Europe and his exploits at Lyon have caught the attention of Europe’s elite. Joining the Lyon academy at the age of 11, the midfielder progressed through the different age groups and made his first-team debut as a late substitute in the Europa League game against AZ Alkmaar in 2017. A week later from his debut, he scored his first goal for the French outfit in the second-leg tie against the aforementioned Dutch club.
Later, he made his first appearance in Ligue 1 and it was a memorable debut but for all the wrong reasons as the game against SC Bastia was abandoned at half time when the Corsican fans took to the pitch to attack Lyon’s players. Since that eventful game, Aouar has become an important figure in the team and has put in some superb displays that haven’t gone unnoticed.
He is an elegant customer with supreme technical prowess that enables him to operate seamlessly anywhere in the midfield. Aouar successfully completed no less than 65 dribbles last season, which reflects his outstanding dribbling trait. The versatile midfielder has everything to play for the biggest clubs in Europe and there won’t be a lack of potential suitors if he decides to embark on a fresh adventure in his burgeoning career.
Victor Osimhen (LOSC Lille)
Hailing from Nigeria, Victor Osimhen has enjoyed a meteoric rise at Lille after first garnering attention for his exceptional performances at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He scored 10 goals in the tournament to lead the Golden Eagles to a triumph and even finished as the top-scorer collecting the Golden Boot and Silver Ball award. Furthermore, he earned the title of Africa’s Youth Player of the Year in 2015 on the back of his stellar displays.
Later, he completed a move to VfL Wolfsburg but that transfer didn’t work out due to a few injury issues and trouble adjusting to life in Europe. However, he found his mojo back at Belgian club Charleroi where he scored 19 goals in 34 matches winning their Player of the Season award. His goal-scoring exploits persuaded Lille to bring the talented young striker to France last summer.
He instantly hit the ground running scoring 18 goals and notching six assists across 38 matches in all competitions. In 2020, his outstanding work received recognition as he was announced as Lille’s Player of the Season for the 2019-20 campaign. Osimhen is strong aerially, has sharp movement in the box, and can also stretch defences with his healthy pace and runs behind the last line. There still remains room for improvement but the Nigerian marksman already possesses many of the attributes required to succeed at the highest level.