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10 Ligue 1 wonderkids to watch this season

The FIFA World Cup returned home to France this summer as Les Bleus claimed a second world title, illustrating the country’s strength when it comes to producing high-calibre footballers in the process.

From the 23-man squad that Didier Deschamps selected, no fewer than eight players that were aged 23 or younger.

Among them was one teenager, Kylian Mbappé, whose incredible rise is a testament to the nation’s top division.

So, with that knowledge in mind, we’ve decided to profile ten Ligue 1 wonderkids we expect to make noise in a division littered with emerging stars.

Age: 17

Club: Dijon

Position: Central midfielder

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 4 (164)

Loiodice graduated from Dijon’s youth set-up earlier this year after playing a handful of games at the culmination of the 2017/18 season. The promising midfielder, who is averaging 3 tackles per game, played every minute of Dijon’s opening two league games and is the youngest of Squawka’s ten Ligue 1 wonderkids.

Age: 18

Club: Marseille

Position: Defensive midfielder

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 6 (455)

Born and raised in Marseille, Kamara emerged at the backend of last season as a composed presence capable of playing across the backline. However, his manager Rudi Garcia believes the teenager’s future lies a No.6, something he has already discussed with the player.

With l’OM preferring to play two deep-lying midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation, expect to see the 18-year-old trusted just in front of the defence that he broke into in 2017/18.

Age: 18

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Position: Striker

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 3 (122)

Son of George, a legendary footballer (turned president of his nation Liberia) who remains an iconic figure among PSG’s fanatical support, the pressure is on Timothy to follow in his father’s footsteps. So far he’s showing no signs of the family name weighing him down.

If anything, it’s galvanized the United States international marksman. Weah bagged his first Ligue 1 goal in PSG’s opening game of the 2018/19 after scoring against Monaco in the season’s curtain-raiser, the Trophee des Champions.

Age: 19

Club: Bordeaux

Position: Centre-back

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 18 (1,588)

A centre-back by trade, Koundé is looking to build on from last season. His rate of development was rewarded with a first-team debut and a subsequent run in Bordeaux’s first team – playing 18 of their final 19 matches (and completing the full 90 in all but one fixture). Despite not starting 2018/19 well, Les Girondins losing their opening matches, Kounde will be a regular presence in what could be a defining season.

Age: 19

Club: Nice

Position: Striker

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 13 (324)

Competition for places isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, sometimes a player could end up lost in the noise, and that is what Maolida faced at Lyon, hence his move to Nice this summer.

The Parisian-born forward had a number of capable strikers in front of him – as well as forwards his age looking to make a breakthrough – but that’s not the case at rivals Nice, where he’s looking to make an even bigger impact this season under Patrick Vieira.

Age: 19

Club: Nice

Position: Centre-back

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 21 (1,316)

France are blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young centre-backs at the moment. Joining this burgeoning group is Nice’s very own Sarr.

It might be a while before Sarr, who the CIES Football Observatory named as the world’s fifth-most promising footballer under 20 earlier this year, is at the level required to represent the World champions. However, having already played over 3,500 minutes of top-flight football, the 19-year-old’s path to the senior national team may be accelerated.

Age: 19

Club: Lille

Position: Centre-midfielder

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 14 (501)

Premier League champions Manchester City were interested in acquiring the services of Soumaré earlier this year, and for good reason, the ex-PSG academy graduate is one of the emerging stars in Ligue 1.

Performing as an old-fashioned box-to-box midfielder he’s a threat in the opposition half and a presence in his own: breaking up attacks as well as starting and finishing them. One to certainly keep an eye on.

Age: 19

Club: Monaco

Position: Right-winger

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 3 (28)

There are few better clubs than Monaco for an emerging star to ply his trade at. Les Monégasques have down the years nurtured the likes of Thierry Henry and Kylian Mbappé, looking to follow in their footsteps is teenage sensation Jordi Mboula, who began his playing career at Barcelona’s fabled La Masia set-up.

Signed at the start of the 2017/18 season following a blistering UEFA Youth League campaign for Barcelona U-19s, Mboula now looks ready to make a claim for a first-team spot after a year of settling in the Principality.

Age: 20

Club: Lyon

Position: Centre-midfielder

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 32 (2,434)

It’s fair to say Aouar is part of Bruno Génésio’s plans having featured in all but six of Lyon’s league outings last season – completing the full 90 on no fewer than 18 occasions – as well as playing in their opening two matches of 2018/19.

Scoring six goals and providing five assists in 2017/18, Aouar formed one of the most exciting midfield partnerships alongside Tanguy Ndombele. Both are excellent ball-carriers, completing 82 and 80 respectively in Ligue 1 last campaign, and Ndombele himself only misses out on this list of Ligue 1 wonderkids as he turns 22 in December.

Age: 20

Club: Rennes

Position: Left-winger

2017/18 Ligue 1 appearances (minutes): 24 (1,866)

With pace to burn Ismaïla Sarr is fast-becoming one of the most dangerous footballers operating in Ligue 1. The Senegalese international, looking to forge a similar career path to ex-Rennes winger Ousmane Dembélé, has already begun this season by putting Ligue 1 defenders on notice after scoring a stunning goal to secure Rennes first three points of the season against Angers.


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