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  • Writer's pictureThe Football Notebook

Ligue 1 Wonderkids

10. Boubacar Kamara - 20

The 20-year-old French defender was only 16 when he made his debut for the Marseille first team on the 13th of December 2016 against FC Sochaux-Montbéliard in a Coupe de la Ligue match. He has represented France at all the youth levels, beating out the likes of Ibrahim Konate, Jean-Clair Todibo and Dayot Upamecano for his spot on the side. Despite his age, Kamara is very versatile, even playing in midfield at times. His defensive prowess and physicality are rated very highly by manager André Villas-Boas and we expect the coveted defender to feature more regularly for his side soon.

Most comparable to: Thiago Silva

9. Alban Lafont - 21

The first and last goalkeeper on this list, Alban Lafont has made a name for himself as France's response to Italy's Gianluigi Donaruma. Interestingly, they were both the youngest keepers to have ever started in the history of their respective leagues – both only 16 when they made their debuts. A key difference is Lafont's nomadic journey already playing for three different clubs before his 21st birthday. He does, admittedly, still have his flaws, but with consistent playing time, the goalkeeper could find a place in the French international team, with Lloris only getting older by the day.

Most comparable to: Marc-André Ter Stegen

8. Boubakary Soumaré - 21

The Lille midfielder, who is reportedly on the radar of Real Madrid and Manchester United can be included in the extensive list of the academy talents squandered by PSG. A player who possesses a lot of similar qualities to compatriot Paul Pogba, Soumaré is a powerhouse in the Lille midfield. His very noticeable physical presence, coupled with his ability to play out the back with his inch-perfect passing make him a valuable asset to any team. Defensive midfielders of this calibre, at this age, are far and few in-between and we wouldn't be surprised if he were to move to a bigger club in the coming summer.

Most comparable to: N’Golo Kanté

7. Yacine Adli - 19

The PSG academy graduate, who left the Parisian outfit for more regular playing time at Bordeaux is showing glimpses of why he was so highly rated in the youth ranks. The 19-year-old attacking midfielder has scored 3 goals and assisted 3 in only 11 starts. Now, he has come off the bench on 10 occasions this season, but even with all things considered, the Frenchman averages 169.5 minutes per goal contribution, outstanding for a 19-year-old who only recently established himself as a first-team regular. With his intricate interplay and brilliant long-range efforts, he already looks like a bargain for the Bordeaux side, who secured his signature for a meagre €5.5m fee.

Most comparable to: Kevin De Bruyne

6. Malang Sarr - 21

The 21-year-old is a powerful left-footed centre-back - one of the most sought after type of players. Couple this with a contract running out this summer you can expect every single reasonable club to clamour for this brilliant French player, who has already established himself at a very young age, especially for a defender. We think Manchester City will try all they can to secure his signature and could build a brilliant central defensive partnership with fellow wonderkid Eric Garcia.

Most comparable to: Marcel Desailly

5. William Saliba - 19

The Arsenal loanee, who only joined the London club last Summer window, attracting the interest of London Rivals Tottenham Hotspurs in the process, has been an in-and-out figure in the heart of this Saint Etienne defence due to injuries. But his statistics when he does start are impressive. Young, exciting centre backs are becoming increasingly hard to come by and with Arsenal’s struggling defence, Arteta will be glad to have the Frenchman available next season.

Most comparable to: Virgil Van Dijk

4. Houssem Aouar - 21

Quite underrated despite his significant contributions to this Lyon side, Houssem Aouar would surely think his time has come, being heavily linked with Man City recently. The 21-year-old, who can play any position across the midfield, has already made great strides as a player, prevailing against many of Europe's top sides like Manchester City, Hoffenheim, and Shakhtar Donetsk. With his many strengths, the Citizens would be incredibly lucky to add an asset like Aouar to their ranks.

Most comparable to: David Silva

3. Rayan Cherki - 16

The French winger only broke into the Lyon first team this season and has made a significant impact on the club. At only 16, he averages a goal or assist every 90. He has scored 3 goals this season, including a memorable brace against Nantes in the cup. He is already one of the brightest gems in Europe and with more game time, will develop into the next Mbappe, or as the Lyon President thinks, “even better than Mbappe”.

Most comparable to: Leo Messi

2. Eduardo Camavinga - 17

The 17-year-old Rennes midfielder has had a breakout season. Of his many assets, his game intelligence is what is catching the eye of clubs and viewers alike. He possesses the reading of the game to find favourable spaces, and combined with his passing and defensive contributions, he offers a unique player who has attributes rarely found in players of his age. With Manchester United and Real Madrid keen, a move to Europe's elite could be imminent for the Frenchman.

Most comparable to: Xabi Alonso

1. Kylian Mbappé - 21

Big surprise. Kylian Mbappe rose through the ranks at Monaco and made his move to PSG, who were amongst numerous clubs after his signature. Already touted to be amongst the world 's best, the Frenchman is a phenomenon and the next best thing after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He already has a World Cup to a name, and his stats are jaw-droppingly good – 83 minutes per goal at 21. He does, admittedly, play in a league which his team has won seven times in the last eight years, but he did it at the World Cup, and we don't doubt that he'd be able to replicate similar numbers at any team across Europe.

Most comparable to: Thierry Henry

Honourable mentions:

  • Khephren Thuram

  • Aurelien Tchouameni

  • Malang Sarr

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