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Best Under-21 footballers in Ligue 1 (Part 1)

Best Under-21 footballers in Ligue 1 (Part 1)
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Ligue 1 is Europe’s biggest producer of young talent. See who you can recognize in Part 1 of this article.

AGE: 21

Malcom (Bordeaux)
– One of the most coveted wingers on the transfer market, Bordeaux’s Malcom is ready to take the next step and move to a bigger club this summer. The Brazilian was close to moving to the Premier League in the winter, but the price tag deterred suitors.

Maxwel Cornet (Lyon)
– Cornet is the next one in a long line of wingers to come out from Lyon. He already has over 90 appearances for the club and has also been a member of all of France’s youth squads. Extremely fast and agile, the Ivorian gives defenders headaches. Unlike many wingers, he’s a great finisher and has a knack for the killer pass. Lyon has itself yet another jewel.

Giovani Lo Celso (PSG)
– Lo Celso is just starting to penetrate into PSG’s starting lineup. Thiago Motta’s absence left a hole that needed to be filled and Unai Emery wasn’t scared to throw the youngster into the fire. As it turns out, the youngster can play. The Argentinian, who joined from Rosario in 2016, is an ultra-skilled midfielder, equally good at defending and passing. His future is very bright.

Almamy Toure (Monaco)
– Monaco has been a cradle for young talent during the last few years. Almamy Toure is currently stuck in the pecking order behind Djibril Sidibe. One of the two is going to leave, the question is who. The Malian right back will be a hot commodity if he puts himself on the market.

Jorge (Monaco)
– The Brazilian left back Jorge is Benjamin Mendy’s replacement at Monaco. Not many thought Monaco will be able to replace one of the best young left backs in the world, but it did. Monaco definitely has some of the best scouts. Let’s just see how long it’ll be able to hold on to Jorge.

Adama Diakhaby (Monaco)
– Diakhaby went from Caen to Rennes to Monaco in two seasons. That’s a big leap. Jardim uses him mostly as a joker from the bench for now. The striker should start getting more minutes as the season winds down.

Issa Diop (Toulouse)
– Follow this link to find out more about one of the most wanted center backs in Europe.

Joris Gnagnon (Rennes)
– Read my article about Gnagnon to find out more about what he’s all about.

Allan Saint-Maximin (Nice)
– Saint-Maximin’s effectiveness from the bench prompted Monaco into buying the young winger from Saint-Etienne in 2015. However, it loaned him out soon after to Germany’s Hannover. After a tough spell there, he spend the following season on loan in Bastia, where he was a regular starter. His performances caught Nice’s attention, who decided to buy Allan outright this past summer. Finally settled, he can hopefully continue his growth now.

Thiago Maia (Lille)
– It was a matter of time when Maia will come to Europe. One of the most heralded Brazilian midfield prospects elected to join Lille, mostly due to the presence of Marcelo Bielsa at the helm. He’s an elegant defensive midfielder who enjoys the role of deep-lying playmaker.

Alexis Blin (Toulouse)
– Blin is a defensive midfielder hailing from Le Mans. He’s a mainstay in Toulouse’s starting lineup filled with youthful exuberance. He’s not an exciting prospect, but more of a steady contributor.

Francois Kamano (Bordeaux)
– Kamano is a Guinean footballer who plays opposite of Malcom for Bordeaux. It signed him in 2016 after Francois’ notable performances for Bastia. The powerful winger has been a regular member of the starting lineup since.

Luiz Araujo (Lille)
– Araujo was Bielsa’s first signing at Lille. The left winger was quite successful at the Brazilian youth levels. He was the top scorer in the U-20 Copa Libertadores in 2016 and has won a U-17 and a U-20 World Cup with Brazil. Luiz is still being incorporated into Bielsa’s scheme, but his flair and energy will likely make him a great footballer some day.

Marcus Coco (Guingamp)
– Coco is a little known winger, who has already made 82 appearances for Guingamp. He’s not a player who can reach for greatness, but his underrated talent shouldn’t be disregarded.

AGE: 20

Lucas Tousart (Lyon)
– Tousart raised his profile during the European Under-19 Championship in 2016, where he captained his France side to a gold medal. It was a team that included Issa Diop, Amine Harit, Jean-Kevin Augustin and Kylian Mbappe. He’s a physical ball-winner, whose humility conquered Lyon coach Bruno Genesio and is now targeting Europe. Manchester United, Barcelona and Juventus are some of the names connected to Lyon’s starting defensive midfielder.

Maxime Lopez (Marseille)
– Maxime is always around the ball. Surrounded by bigger, more experienced and more recognizable players, the attacking midfielder quietly gets on with his business, doing much of the work in the middle of the pitch by connecting the dots. He’s one of my favorite players on this list.

Youri Tielemans (Monaco)
– Tielemans was one of the most sought after prospects last summer. Monaco used its income from Bernardo Silva’s transfer to bring the 20-year-old to France. Tielemans chose Monaco over Arsenal, believing he would get more playing time in Jardim’s team. The Belgian, who made 139 appearances for Anderlecht as a teenager, is used to being on the field. He’s probably not getting the amount of playing time he expected right now, but that should change next season.