The best under 23 Ligue 1 players

10 – Joachim Andersen, 23-years-old:

The 2018/19 season earnt Andersen a move from Sampdoria to Lyon. During 2018/19, Joachim started 32 matches and played a total of 2,880 minutes as Sampdoria conceded 51 goals, the ninth best in the league. The Danish centre back averaged 2.4 defensive actions (tackles and interceptions) as he played as the more conservative centre back in the 2-man partnership.

Andersen can do more than just defend, he wins 2.3 aerial duels, the second best in the Sampdoria squad and would’ve been the third best in the Lyon squad during 2018/19. This aerial ability can be utilised in set pieces both defensively and offensively. Joachim is very composed and comfortable on the ball, he averaged 63.4 passes which included 0.3 key passes and 5.9 long balls whilst maintaining a pass accuracy of 88.8%.

9 – Aleksandr Golovin, 23-years-old:

The Russian made a name for himself in the 2018 World Cup as in 402 minutes, he scored once and assisted twice. This World Cup put him in the shop window for many top clubs before he made the decision to move to Les Rouges et Blancs. During 2018/19, Golovin played in many positions highlighting his versatility and desire to play. These positions include attacking midfield, central midfield, defensive midfield, striker and on both wings. With Monaco he played 2301 league minutes in which he still impressed despite Monaco faltering and finishing 17th.

Aleksandr is a well-rounded player that is involved in all aspects of play. He averages 1.9 tackles and interceptions, this isn’t that high due to most of his minutes coming in more attacking positions and Monaco having more possession. The former CSKA Moscow midfielder attempts 1.7 dribbles and maintains a success rate of 71.4%. Although his dribbling is very impressive, his pass accuracy is at a low 82.3% which tends to improve with age.

8 – Lucas Tousart, 22-years-old:

During 2018/19, he started 20 matches and made a further 10 substitute appearances showing his importance to Lyon. Lucas averages 3.4 defensive actions per 90 caveated with 32.6 passes which highlights his role to Lyon. His role is to break up play and recycle possession. This is backed up by his 87.3% pass accuracy and only 0.3 dribbles, this also shows he prefers to progress the ball through passing rather than through dribbling.

Tousart also performs in tournament football as well as in the league. He started 4 matches for France in the under-21 Euros which totalled to 311 minutes. In these 4 matches he averaged 2.6 tackles and interceptions which decreased from his Lyon form due to the France side being more possession heavy side. This is also shown in his increase in passing, he averaged 35.5 passes with a pass accuracy of 93%. Both sets of stats who he is versatile in fitting into different systems.

7 – Allan Saint-Maximin, 22-years-old:

Just like Golovin, Saint-Maxim has played in a few different positions throughout 2018/19. He played mainly as a striker but also on both wings and even as a left wingback for Nice. This shows his versatility and ability to adapt quickly to help his team. The former Monaco man was crucial to Vieira’s side as he started 34 matches which meant he played 2914 minutes in which he scored 6 and assisted 3. However, his xG was 7.45 and his xA finished at 6.64 showing he was unlucky but still had a very impressive season. Patrick Vieira’s side was very defensive which led to them having the third worst attack as they only scored 30 goals, 2 more better than the worst attacking side, Guingamp.

Although Allan often neglects his defensive duties, as he averages 0.5 tackles and interceptions per 90, he is clearly very talented but with the right manager he would offer more defensively. As predicted, it’s offensively where he shines. The former ASSE player takes 2.2 shots, 1.1 from outside the box means his shot location need improvement which is something that again could improve with the right manager but will also improve with age and match experience. Saint-Maximin is not only a finisher, he is also a creator. He creates 1.7 chances whilst attempting 7.4 dribbles at a success rate of 56.8% means he completed a huge 4.2 dribbles per 90.

6 – Youcef Atal, 23-years-old:

A relatively unknown player, Youcef is a very versatile player as although he is prominently a right back, he can also play in other positions. These extra positions include wingback and on either wing. During 2018/19, the Algerian played 2261 minutes and scored 6 goals, although 3 did come in a 3-0 win against Guingamp. He isn’t just a goalscorer, he is a strong defensive player who averages 4.2 defensive actions.

Due to these strong defensive actions and his height being 5’9”, Atal could play as a wide centre back in a back 3 or in a back 5 showing further versatility. The former Paradou player contributes well going forward. He takes 1.2 shots with 0.3 coming from outside the box, this is caveated with his creative skills. His creative skills are shown by his 0.8 key passes and 3.5 dribbles which earnt him an xA of 2.50 in a very defensive side.

5 – Abdou Diallo, 23-years-old:

The 2018/19 season was a very impressive season for Abdou which earnt him a move to PSG. The Frenchman played a total of 2381 minutes in the Bundesliga for Dortmund as they came just short of winning the title. The young defender is a centre back by nature but has also featured at left back for Favre. Diallo averages 2.4 tackles and interceptions which is lower than you’d expect for a top defender. However, this is down to Dortmund having a lot of possession and the midfielders also contributing heavily in regaining possession.

Abdou is very composed on the ball which is an attribute that is now well sought after in the modern game. The former Mainz star averages 64.9 passes with a pass accuracy of 89%. These passes include some adventurous ones as he attempts 7.2 long balls with 4.6 being accurate showing a range of skills in his passing. As well as passing, Diallo is very good at dribbling. He attempts 1.9 and succeeds with 1.4 of them giving him a success rate of 73.7% showing he knows when to take his man on.

4 – Ismaila Sarr, 21-years-old:

Sarr is coming off his breakout season despite 2017/18 still being very strong but last season he was given more responsibility and shone with it. In 2018/19 he played 2795 minutes in which he scored 8 as he took 1.5 shots. 0.5 of his shots came from outside the box, his shot location is good for such a young player but with Senegal at AFCON he took 1.6 shots per 90 with all of them coming from inside the box which shows it may be a managerial issue at Rennes.

Sarr has more to him than just goalscorer. The Senegalese winger got 6 assists but his xA was at 7.30 showing a bit of poor finishing from his team mates. Ismaila averages 1.1 key passes with 1.8 completed dribbles with a success rate of 48.6%, this is sure to improve with age, but it is promising that he has good end product (goals and assists) coming from his dribbles as many younger players lack the end product.

3 – Presnel Kimpembe, 23-years-old:

A bit of a forgotten young star, Kimpembe has been a consistent performer for PSG under Thomas Tuchel. However, with Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Thilo Kehrer all also at PSG, gametime has to be shared at centreback and with the arrival of Abdou Diallo, that won’t be changing. Kimpembe started 23 matches and made a further appearance from the bench which meant he played 2006 minutes in Tuchel’s first season in France. The World Cup didn’t score any goals but did get an assist in league play showing he doesn’t really offer much offensively.

However, despite the lack of ability offensively, defensively he is very strong. Presnel averaged 3.6 tackles and interceptions per 90 which is exceptionally high since PSG dominate possession. PSG averaged the most possession per game, 2.2% more than second best. Whilst doing a lot defensively, Kimpembe is very composed on the ball. During 2018/19 he averaged 60.9 passes with an incredibly high pass accuracy of 93.6%.

2 – Houssem Aouar, 21-years-old:

An indispensable cog for Lyon, Aouar started 35 matches and made a couple more appearances from the bench meaning he made an appearance in 37 of the 38 league matches which totalled in 3069 minutes. In these minutes, the midfielder scored seven and assisted seven in just his second season of regular football. His 14 direct goal contributions meant he was directly involved in 20% of Lyon’s goals from midfield.

The Frenchman can do more is a handful for the opposition due to his versatility and well-rounded game. During 2018/19 he played as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder and even as a left winger. In his 3069 minutes, he averaged 2.6 tackles and interceptions which caveated with his attributes going forward and it’s easy to see why he’s well sought after. He also averaged 1.9 shots with a high 0.8 from outside the box, 1.2 key passes, 1.6 dribbles completed with a 61.5% pass accuracy and 55.6 passes with a pass accuracy of 68.7%. Those stats show why he is one to watch as they’re only going to improve with age and a better manager.

1 – Kylian Mbappé, 20-years-old:

The most obvious player on this list, Kylian is an elite player and a world superstar, the best part is he’s only 20. Mbappé only played 2344 minuutes due to Tuchel rotating the squad a lot, but in these minutes the Frenchman scored 33 and assisted 7. This means Mbappé averaged scoring or assisting a goal every 58.6 minutes, close to two direct goal contributions per 90. The 20-year-old did all this whilst playing in numerous positions which included striker, attacking midfield and both wings.

Arguably the third best player in the world, behind Ronaldo and Messi, Kylian took 4.3 shots per 90 last season with 0.7 coming from outside the box highlighting his maturity in decision making despite his age. The World Cup winner also created 1.6 chances and 2.2 dribbles which shows he can play different roles within each position and that he is ready for his dream move to Real Madrid.

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