Best Young Ligue 1 Players of 2021
In the past month or two, we here at Sportmob have taken a look at all of Europe’s top leagues’ young players and have found the best of them, now join us as we examine the last of Europe’s top 5 leagues to find the best young Ligue 1 players of 2021:
The last stop in our series of looking at Europe’s youngest and brightest is France’s Ligue 1, a competition known for producing some of the biggest stars in the world of football since the 1990s. while the focus on developing young talent has certainly picked up in the last decade across Europe, for Ligue 1 the situation is a bit different since the entire competition is shaped around this very thing. Most if not all of the teams in Ligue 1, except PSG, build their teams around young players from their own academies or from teams across the country or even Africa.
In the 2018 World Cup there were almost 90 players from the 32 teams present in the competition that were raised in French football academies. That is nearly 4 full squad of World Cup-level players that came through the ranks in Ligue 1 teams which shows just how much of an emphasis French football puts on young players. Now with all that said let’s take a closer look at some of these players to find out who are the
best young Ligue 1 players of 2021
Best Ligue 1 Players of 2021
While there are 10 great players among our list of best Ligue 1 players of 2021, special shout outs must go out Mohamed Bayo, Hugo Ekitike, Arnaud Kalimuendo-Muinga and a host of other young players who didn’t quite figure into our list but have all impressed this season so far. Now without any further ado, here is our list:
Nuno Mendes (PSG)
We start off our list of best young Ligue 1 players of 2021 with the brilliant Nuno Mendes who currently plays for PSG on loan from Sporting Lisbon. In addition to being one of the best young defenders around Europe, the 19 year old Mendes is already playing regular football alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar at a team like PSG which tells you all you need to know about his quality.
Originally an attacking midfielder in his academy days, Nuno Mendes was moved further back to the left-back position when he began his senior career. Through a combination of chance and his own talent, Nuno Mendes got to be a starting left back in a Sporting Lisbon side that went on to win the league after over a decade of failure to do so.Sporting
went on to pair that league title with a cup trophy to make the 2020-21 season a double winning one.
Despite his defensive shortcomings, of which he is usually criticized for, Mendes was instrumental in Sporting winning both those trophies since his attacking prowess on the left flank made Sporting Lisbon a terrifying team on the counter. While it was only a breakout season for Nuno Mendes, it proved to be a memorable one with him playing a big role in Sporting’s first league title in 19 years as well as their cup triumph.
For his efforts, Nuno Mendes was included in Primeira Liga’s Team of the Season and was also included in Portugal’s Euro 2020 squad. he joinedPSG
at the start of this current season and is already finding his place and fighting for a starting role with PSG’s Juan Bernat. Considering the immense potential that he has at such a young age, it’s quite possible that PSG makes his loan deal permanent to deal with their fullback shortage issue.
Aurélien Tchouaméni (AS Monaco)
AS Monaco has always been a club that has prided itself in developing young talents. From the days ofThierry Henry
and David Trezeguet to the more recent emergence of Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar and now it seems that they have their next big young talent and that is Aurélien Tchouaméni. The defensive midfielder has really come become one of the
best Ligue 1 players of 2021
with his performances from the tail-end of the last season as well as this season.
Since joining Monaco from Bordeaux on January of 2020, Tchouameni has become a staple in that Monaco team. His aggressive style of defending as well as his big stature and surprising amount of skill and technique makes Tchouameni a player very much in the style of Arsenal’s Thomas Partey. The fact that he could deliver magnificent passes that lead to goals only reinforces that comparison. Tchouameni is also surprisingly good in the air which makes him a complete midfielder.
With Tchouameni being exceptionally well at both tackling and intercepting, Monaco has become a lot more solid defensively. As of writing this article Tchouameni has a combined 104 tackles and interceptions which make him the third best in the league.
While his overall passing skills could be improved, Tchouameni has still managed to be one of the best progressive passers in Ligue 1 which along with his other stats just shows why he is considered to be one of the best young Ligue 1 players of 2021. A fact that Didier Deschamps also agrees with since he has handed the 21 year old 7 caps already!
William Saliba (Marseille)
A player that has been talked about a lot in recent seasons is Arsenal’s William Saliba who is currently on loan at Marseille. The 20 year old defender has consistently been one of the best young defenders in the past couple of seasons and yet he is not entirely trusted by Arsenal’s boss Mikel Arteta. A former Saint-Etienne youth player, Saliba has dominated the Ligue 1 ever since his breakout season in 2018-19, after which he signed for Arsenal.
Ever since then he hasn’t played a single minute of football forArsenal
, spending all of his time on loan at Ligue 1 clubs like Saint-Etienne, Rennes and now Marseille where he has performed outstandingly, becoming one of the best defenders in Ligue 1.
With Saliba’s massive height (1.92cm) and his technique and control when having the ball as well as his great one-on-one defending and reading of the game, the Frenchman has the potential to become one of the best defenders of his generation. his commanding presence at the heart of defense is only getting better with experience and his great interceptions per game ratio (1.5) and clearances per game (2.4) in 2021 at Rennes andMarseille
shows just a glimpse of what a great defender he is.
For anyone who follows the news of Arsenal, it’s apparent that there is a problem behind the scenes between Arteta and Saliba, the way Arteta had problems with Guendozi and Ozil too. But many Arsenal fans hope that the situation with Saliba is not that dire and the Frenchman can come back to the fold and be a part of an already great defensive line up at Arsenal because he is definitely one of the best young Ligue 1 players of 2021.
Yacine Adli (Bordeaux)
Yacine Adli is a player that has been on the radar of many big clubs and even football fans for quite some time. Now with the Frenchman joining AC Milan in the summer only to be brought back on loan to Bordeaux there are even more eyes on him this season and the youngster hasn’t disappointed yet as he has become one of the best Ligue 1 players of 2021 when you take into account the incredible performances he showed at the latter half of last season as his impressive performances this season so far.
Initially a PSG youth player, Yacine Adli spent a couple of season with their reserve side. Although he made a brief appearance for them during the 2017-18 season, he was loaned out to Bordeaux in 2019 to gain more experience and subsequently became a permanent player forBordeaux
for a fee of €5.5 million and a hefty 40% sell-on clause. A great passer of the ball, Yacine Adli can best be utilizied as a box to box midfielder or a playmaker operating in the central spaces.
Which makes him the perfect player fo an AC Milan side that lacks creativity in the middle of the park and have gone out to pay Bordeaux €8 million to acquire Adli’s services and loan him back to them to gain more experience. So far the 21 year old has recorded 6 assists and a goal this season and is among the best progressive passers in the league rivaling the likes of Dmitri Payet and Monaco’s Tchouameni and that is exactly why he is considered to be one of the
best young Ligue 1 players of 2021
Kamaldeen Sulemana (Rennes)
Next up as one of the best young Ligue 1 players of 2021 we have the Ghanaian teenage sensation, Kamaldeen Sulemana who alongside Nuno Mendes are the only two players on our list that are experiencing their first season at France, which makes their inclusion speak volumes about their quality. Unlike Mendes however, Sulemana is very much an attacking type of a player, operating mainly on the left wing.
Born and raised in Ghana, Sulemana was part of a project for young players associated with the Danish club FC Nordsjælland. He would then go on to play for FC Nordsjælland during the previous two seasons where he managed to score 14 goals for the Danish side before switching to the Ligue 1 sideRennes
this past summer for a reported fee of €20 million which seems a lot for a player from the Danish league but Sulemana is proving his worth brilliantly.
A dribbler with break-neck speed who likes to provide his teammates with chances as well as take shots from outside the box, Sulemana has it in him to become a great winger or a dynamic playmaker. With 2.9 dribbles per game this season, Sulemana only sees Teji Savanier, Kylian Mbappe and Sofiane Boufal above him in terms of dribbles.
So far this season, Sulemana has helped Rennes by scoring 5 goals and providing 2 assists as the French side are in multiple competitions, including the Conference League. with only 19 years of age, Kamaldeen Sulemana has already become one of the
best young footballers of 2021
. It is now up to him to continue this right path and maybe even become one of Ghana’s best ever players.
Romain Faivre (Brest)
It is always great to see a young player defy odds that are stacked against him and be successful especially when everyone had written him off for the most part. Which seems to be the cas with the brilliant Romain Faivre who spent time at both Tours and Monaco without any success only to be shipped off to Brest in 2020 and since then the playmaker has gone from strength to strength becoming one of the one of Ligue 1 best players in 2021.
A playmaker that usually likes to play centrally but can also veer into the right wing as well as the left, Romain Faivre is the complete package. With exceptional dribbling, passing and crossing ability, Faivre is set to become a great playmaker at any team but to top it all off he is also a great set piece taker which makes him an ideal No. 10 especially in this day and age, which is why clubs like AC Milan really want the Frenchman.
Last season, which was Faivre’s first in the Brest colors, he managed to score 6 and assist 5 but this term he has already broken his record of last year and has scored 7 and assisted 5 goals in only 18 appearances. With Faivre being amongst theLigue 1
’s top 10 best in terms of dribbles and crosses as well as having a record of 1.6 key passes per game, the 23 year old has undoubtedly become one of best young Ligue 1 players of 2021 and has a great future ahead of him if he makes the right choices and continue his development, the way he has in the past two years.
Sven Botman (Lille OSC)
The third and final defender to appear on our list is genuinely one of thebest young footballers of 2021
and that is the underrated Sven Botman, who helped Lille OSC to a shock Ligue 1 triumph over their rivals PSG, Monaco and Lyon. A towering center back, Botman was a product of Ajax’s academy but actually made his senior debut for another Dutch club, Heerenveen, when he was on loan there in the 2019-20 season before deciding to join Lille on a permanent basis at the start of the last season.
After joining Lille for a €9 million, Botman immediately was brought to the first team where he became one of the most important players for Lille, going on to start for Lille in 37 of their 38 matches in the Ligue 1 as they led the league for much of the campaign and eventually won the league to everyone’s surprise. A ball playing center back who specializes in intercepting and cutting off the attacks rather than stopping attackers on 1v1s, Botman has an insane average of 4.6 clearances per game and 0.8 interceptions per game shows as much.
With the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt and even Stefan de Vrij in front of him, Botman hasn’t had the chance to play for Netherlands’ national team but with the quality that he has shown in past year, becoming one of the best young Ligue 1 players of 2021, he is certain to get his chance sooner or later.
Amine Gouiri (Nice)
One of the best young footballers of 2021 has undoubtedly been Nice’s Amine Gouiri. The Nice striker has really come into his own and has helped Nice once again be among the top clubs in France ever since he joined them from Lyon at the start of last season. Amine Gouiri, who has long been touted to become a superstar on the count of his goal scoring exploits with France’s youth teams, has now finally found a rhythm to his game at Nice and is certainly gunning for a spot among France’s 2002 World Cup squad.
After joining Lyon at the age of 13, Amine Gouiri would go on to represent the club for the next 7 years, signing his first professional contract in 2017. However, his time there was largely unsuccessful as he failed to score even a single goal for theOlympians
and therefore was permanently sold to Nice at the start of last season for the price of €7 million and on a 4 year contract. The story was quite different at Nice however as Gouiri scored 12 and assisted 7 in his first season to become Nice’s best player during the 2020-21 season.
And since the start of this season, Gouiri has picked up right where he left off last season, scoring 8 and assisting another 4 goals. while Gouiri is very much a central striker, his versatility, especially his passing and hold-up play allow him to create chances for his teammates, which explains his high number of assists.
His fruitful partnership with the experienced Delort beside him has taken Nice all the way to the 2nd spot in the table. While they are not in any sort of title challenge with PSG 13 points ahead of them Gouiri’s form has considerably bettered Nice’s fortunes this season, which is why he is one of our
best young Ligue 1 players of 2021
Jonathan David (Lille OSC)
When there is talk of Canadian football we are all aware ofBayern Munich
’s Alphonso Davies as the left winger/back has takenBundesliga
and even the Champions League by storm winning every trophy on his path. However, the brilliant displays of another Canadian superstar has gone somewhat unnoticed which seems unjust. That superstar is Lille’s Jonathan David who has already broken records for Canada and become a Ligue 1 champion.
Born to Haitian parents in New York City, David and his family moved to Canada early in his life where he soon began playing football for Ottawa’s local teams. Instead of focusing into getting into an MLS side like most of his peers in Canada, David set his eyes on playing football in Europe and soon got his wish when he joined the Belgian side, Genk. Being incredibly quick as well as technically gifted, David soon adapted to football in Belgium, scoring in 14 goals in his debut season and shattering his own record by scoring 23 in his second season.
David then decided to leave Genk, having scored 37 for the club over the course of two seasons before even turning 20. He joined Lille OSC in a €30 million that made him the most expensive Canadian player of all time however life at Lille didn’t start as smoothly as he wanted it to, since he had problems adjusting to the league at first which resuted a few months of dry spells. But his fortunes soon turned around as he started contributing heavily to Lille OSC shocking Ligue 1 triumph against the European heavyweights, PSG.
David managed to score 13 goals and assist 2 as Lille were crowned champions and has continued his brilliant for to this season, scoring 12 goals this season, making him the competition’s top goal scorer as of writing this article. David has also incredibly scored 17 goals in 22 matches for Canada and is already their 5th top scorer of all time, 5 goals behind the top spot, which he will undoubtedly surpass in the near future. There are already rumblings about who will sing Jonathan David either in the upcoming January or in the summer but there is no doubt that with his attitude, he will find success anywhere he decides to go to!
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
And so we get to the final name on our list of best young Ligue 1 players of 2021 and that is unsurprisingly the magnificent Kylian Mbappe. The PSG striker has been touted to follow in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronald’s footsteps for a while now and it seems that he has finally stepped into the same conversation as both of those guys in terms of being one of the best players in world football. one thing about Kylian Mbappe that amazes us is the fact that Ligue 1 has just been too easy for him at times, even when he was 17 at Monaco.
You’d think that after nearly 5 years at PSG and almost daily talk of him leaving to join his dream club Real Madrid in the past two years, Kylian Mbappe’s performances would dip a little bit but the 23 year old has shown that his true strength is his professionalism and mentality that drives him forward and has strangely made 2021 the best year he has had at PSG, despite the talk of his eventual departure overshadowing his brilliance.
In terms of stats, Mbappe leads the league in the number of dribbles per game (3.4) and is second to Lionel Messi in terms of shots per goal (3.6) which considering his better scoring record means that he has been a much more clinical finisher than one of the best goalscorers of all time, at least this season. this shows an improvement on his previous season’s record of 2.9 dribbles per game.
Mbappe managed to score 27 goals and 7 assists last season and picked up Ligue 1’s Player of the Year once again as well as being the top goal scorer and this season hasn’t been any different since he has already scored 9 and assisted 8 in Ligue 1 as well as 4 goals and 4 assists in the Champions League. these may be the last months of Kylian Mbappe at PSG and perhaps Ligue 1 ever but he is proving why he is one of
Ligue 1 best players
week after week.
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