Jonathan Johnson weeds out several of Ligue 1's brightest young talents who could hit the big time in 2015/16...
French football is famous for producing copious amounts of talented young players. The summer transfer window in France regularly witnesses an exodus of the country’s top talents and this summer has been no exception. In fact, it seems French players are in greater demand than ever because of the excellent value for money that they represent.
With Ligue 1’s continental rivals able to gazump the majority of Le Championnat’s teams, the obvious exception being Paris Saint-Germain and possibly AS Monaco, these clearouts are likely to remain a frequent occurrence.
However, they may even become more severe, depending on the success of this summer’s exports. The only thing you can be sure of is that a new wave of young French talent will rise up and replace those departed.
1. Jean-Kevin Augustin (Paris Saint-Germain)
Despite being able to spend lavishly on established star players courtesy of their ambitious Qatari owners, PSG still possess one of French football’s most fertile youth academies. Jean-Kevin Augustin is the latest gem off the conveyor belt of homegrown talent at Parc des Princes and unlike many before him, he might actually have the ability to make himself a part of the French champions’ big plans for the future.
Unlike many before him, Augustin might actually have the ability to make himself a part of the French champions’ big plans for the future
Aged just 18, the versatile attacking talent is capable of playing through the middle and out wide and mixes power with pace. Prolific at youth level in the French capital and wanted by a number of European sides, PSG signed him to his first professional contract back in February. Augustin enjoyed a clinical pre-season, scoring five goals in as many games, and the France-born attacker of Haitian lineage has already featured regularly as a substitute and even a starter for Laurent Blanc’s men this season. Recently called up to France’s under-19 squad for the first time, Augustin has usurped Adrien Rabiot as PSG’s hottest homegrown prospect.
2. Samuel Umtiti (Olympique Lyonnais)
It will surprise many to hear that Lyon’s Umtiti is still just 21. It feels like he has been around for years and the fact that he has been in les Gones’ first team for so long is testament to his impressive ability.
More experienced than your average defender, Umtiti is a physically imposing centre-back. The France under-21 international has come a long way since his days playing as a makeshift left-back and is now well on his way to becoming a genuine world class central defender. Umtiti communicates well, possesses excellent organisational skills, is strong in the air and surprisingly adept with the ball at his feet. He also reads the game well and is fast for a defender. Lots of European sides are already interested in Umtiti, but this summer’s contract renewal with Lyon should keep them at bay until at least next summer.
3. Thomas Toure (Girondins de Bordeaux)
Signed by Bordeaux from AS Cannes back in 2010, polyvalent attacker Thomas Toure is currently making a name for himself at Nouveau Stade Bordeaux.
Born in France to an Ivorian father and a Spanish mother, the 21-year-old looks to have pledged his future to the Ivory Coast after accepting a senior call-up for their second Africa Cup of Nations 2017 qualifier against Sierra Leone in September.
Toure is fast, dribbles well and links up nicely with others in Willy Sagnol’s attack. Les Girondins’ No. 13 is a strong finisher, possesses good technical skills and displays good awareness. He is a perfect fit for counter-attacking sides, while playing out wide allows him to maximise his searing pace and impressive dribbling ability.
Real Madrid have already been linked with Toure and the France under-18 international could be one of the star names exported from Ligue 1 next summer.