Who is the next Mbappe? Ligue 1’s young stars to watch out for in 2017-18


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Kylian Mbappe’s explosive start to life in Ligue 1 means that he has established himself as the rising star of world football.

Although the teenage Monaco striker has caught the spotlight like no other player in the history of France’s top flight, Le Championnat has earned the reputation as a powerhouse of producing top-quality talent.

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Each year, a myriad of players break onto the scene and the 2017-18 season will be no different.

Here are seven youngsters who should be watched with a particularly close eye…


LUIZ ARAUJO (LILLE)


Luiz Araujo Lille

It’s been a busy summer for Lille, who have constructed virtually a whole new squad, though they have few players as promising as Luiz Araujo on their books.

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The 21-year-old Brazilian winger was the first player signed to Marcelo Bielsa’s side this summer and, judging by the early evidence, there is every chance he could become one of the best.

Boasting searing pace down the left, the little forward introduced himself to his new fans with a stunning display in the recent 4-2 friendly win over Rennes.


BOUBACAR KAMARA (MARSEILLE)


Boubacar Kamara

A 17-year-old centre-back, much is expected of Boubacar Kamara over the coming years and Marseille had to strain themselves to get the promising youngster to commit his future to their cause.

Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund were among those clubs who wanted to swipe away the defender, who has been impressing his more senior team-mates for quite some time in training.

“He’ll become a great player,” Remy Cabella said last November. “When you watch him, you wouldn’t say he was only a teenager. He is progressing quickly.”


FAITOUT MAOUASSA (RENNES)


Faitout Maouassa Nancy

France Under-20 international Faitout Maouassa is one of the best examples of Rennes’ fine business in the summer transfer window, though his arrival has been eclipsed by that of €20m signing Ismaila Sarr.

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The 19-year-old excelled in the second half of last season with Nancy and seems set to bring life to an attack that had been too readily stifled.

Although he can also feature as a left-back, his weaknesses defensively mean that the Breton side will probably try to use him in an advanced role. 


JORDI MBOULA (MONACO)


Jordi Mboula Monaco
Perhaps no side in Europe has been as adept at bringing through youngsters in recent times as Monaco and that may explain why 18-year-old Jordi Mboula was so eager to ditch Barcelona to sign for the Ligue 1 champions.

The winger, who has moved for a mere €3 million, was regarded as one of the hottest properties in La Masia, yet the opportunity to be fast tracked into first-team football has apparently been too much for him to resist. 


IBRAHIMA NIANE (METZ)


Ibrahima Niane Metz

Following in the path of Sadio Mane and Ismaila Sarr, who snubbed Barcelona to move to Rennes last week for €20m, centre-forward Niane arrives in France from the Generation Foot Academy.

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The initial impression that he has made at Stade Saint-Symphorien has been overwhelmingly positive, suggesting that he can go some way to filling the void that the Lorraine side currently have at No.9.

A tall, lanky forward, he showed in a recent friendly against Crystal Palace that he packs a punch, driving a terrific equaliser into the top corner. 


CHRISTOPHER NKUNKU (PSG)


Christopher Nkunku Lorient PSG Ligue 1 12032017

It has become notoriously difficult for young players to break into Paris Saint-Germain’s ranks. When the demands of quality are so high, opportunities to gain first-team experience are limited.

Nkunku, a 19-year-old central midfielder, hinted last season that he could break the mould and follow Adrien Rabiot along the path of promising youth to star of the senior squad.

He featured 16 times for Unai Emery’s side last term, earning fewer than 1000 competitive minutes, but he has shown that if he is given his chance, he is a player who may flourish.


VALENTIN VADA (BORDEAUX)


Valentin Vada Bordeaux Metz Ligue 1 08042017

All-action midfielder Valentin Vada is ready to make his mark with Bordeaux this season after hinting at his potential last term, in which he played a substantial role.

The 21-year-old is a flexible figure in the heart of the midfield, yet as his first-team experience has grown, he has become increasingly happy to show his offensive talents. Indeed, during a spell last season he scored five goals in six league games.

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Bordeaux will hope for even more from the Argentine this time around.

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