Francis Kelly profiles the Old Lady's latest French talent as he prepares to make his mark in Massimiliano Allegri's revamped side...
The 60-second story
- Date of Birth: 13 June, 1996
- Place of Birth: Paris, France
- Height: 5ft 10in
- Position: Forward
- Club: Juventus (20 apps. 1 goal)
- Former club(s): Paris Saint-Germain
- International: France U21 (6 caps, 2 goals)
Juventus added a new name to their illustrious list of French imports when talented youngster Kingsley Coman found refuge with the Turin goliaths in the summer of 2014.
Desperate to play, and frustrated by the lack of opportunities afforded to him by Paris Saint-Germain, the sought-after forward departed under acrimonious circumstances. Leaving the team he’d trained with since he was nine years old, Coman moved to Italy for free on a five-year deal, his contract in France having expired.
Raised in the prestigious PSG academy, Coman had caught the attention of Bianconeri staff during a 2012 NextGen tournament fixture between the two clubs.
Despite only making three senior appearances for the Parisian side, Europe’s best were convinced of his talent and with Coman questioning his prospects, courting of the French youth international began.
Eventually plumping for Juventus and informing the press of his excitement to follow in the footsteps of French greats, Coman hoped to gain valuable first team experience and ultimately cement a permanent position. The transfer hasn't worked out quite as he expected, as the 19-year-old voiced concerns at head coach Massimiliano Allegri about his lack of match time at the turn of the year. Fortunately, Allegri had the Serie A title wrapped up with four games to spare, providing Coman more chances to feature. He ended his maiden Juve season with seven starts across all competitions and a further 13 substitute outings.
Why you need to know him
Last season’s stuttering start in Turin should not undermine Coman’s evident ability, and it has done little to deter the array of clubs circling him. The departure of the talismanic Carlos Tevez could create fresh opportunities for him to convince Allegri of his starting credentials and turn his potential into star quality.
However, Coman does face tough competition from new arrivals. Paulo Dybala has joined for €32m from Palermo, Mario Mandzukic arrived from Atletico Madrid for €19m and Simone Zaza signed for €18m from Sassuolo, and these are all investments that the Juventus hierarchy will want to see returns on.
Yet, as one of Serie A’s most exhilarating prospects and already trusted to feature in a Champions League final when thrust on in place of Patrice Evra as they hunted an equaliser in added time, Coman is clearly considered to be part of the team. Now it is down to him to break through and claim a regular spot.
Fast, and in possession of the kind of trickery that leaves defenders cowering behind the sofa when TV highlights are on, Coman is blessed by the mesmerising ability of shifting a game beyond the opposition’s means. His quick feet and supreme vision see him used out wide and behind the striker as well as in the forward line, while he continues to craft a defined role. Not shy of making a tackle when required - he was successful in 64% of his attempted Serie A challenges last season - Coman’s rapid turn of pace and close ball control allow him to pull away from opponents and break at speed. Deployed at times as an inverted winger, his swift movement and mazy runs often create space for team-mates.
Considering Coman’s prowess with the ball and decision-making capabilities when assisting others, it is perhaps surprising that he doesn't convert more of his own chances. Just one goal for Juventus since his arrival, and a 20% record of league shots on target, is a poor return for someone of his ability.
It's an area that he has worked hard on, though, and his curling goal to complete a 6-1 drubbing of Verona in the Coppa Italia was a glimpse of progress. England’s Under-21 team are also aware of his goalscoring potential, as he came off the bench as an 18-year-old to score France’s winning goal and condemn Gareth Southgate’s young side to their first defeat in 11 matches back in November 2014.
“The kid Coman played like a veteran,” gushed Allegri after a man-of-the-match Serie A debut helped the Old Lady secure a 1-0 win over Chievo back in 2014. “He has great quality and character. He’s a young lad and we should let him grow, but he has real talent.” The ability to not let public admiration affect you is crucial for young players, but as team-mate and compatriot Patrice Evra notes: “Kingsley wants to work hard and has his feet on the ground.” And if he does step out of line, “Uncle Pat”, as Coman fondly calls Evra, has a solution: “His dad has given me permission to get tough with him if he doesn’t listen.”
Did you know?
Coman is a record breaker at both professional clubs he has turned out for. He was PSG’s youngest-ever player when Carlo Ancelotti brought him off the bench aged 16 years, 246 days, for a Ligue 1 contest with Sochaux. And then, upon his move to Juventus, he made history again, becoming the youngest foreign player to represent the Bianconeri.
What happens next?
A summer exit hasn't been ruled out, as the stand-off between Coman and Allegri continues to develop over playing time. Bayern Munich have been the most forthright of Europe’s elite with their interest, having a reported €15m bid turned down earlier this summer, while Liverpool and Arsenal were both linked earlier in the summer.
- Shooting 5
- Heading 6
- Passing 7
- Tackling 6
- Pace 9
- Dribbling 8
- Creativity 8
- Work-rate 7
Former Juventus team-mate and now Allianz Arena enforcer, Arturo Vidal, publicly backed bringing Coman to Germany, announcing: “Coman has a bright future ahead of him. He would be a fine signing for Bayern if he were to follow me to Munich.”
However, while last year consisted of limited appearances, a starting role in Juventus’s Super Cup victory in August hints at possible forthcoming opportunities, as the Serie A champions attempt to reshape their side following the departures of Vidal, Tevez and Andrea Pirlo.
For now, his future depends on how proceedings go in the early months of the season. Committed to Juventus until 2019, Coman’s original reasons for joining the Turin side are unlikely to have wavered, after being courted by some of the world’s biggest teams.
“There were Newcastle, Arsenal and Tottenham interested in me,” he said after the transfer. "But I have chosen Juventus because I love their history. This was the club of Platini, Zidane, Trezeguet.”