When many people think of the top leagues in Europe, Ligue 1 is not always the first that springs to mind. However, the top tier of French football has been the breeding ground for many of the top stars in recent years. The likes of Eden Hazard, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba all started out in Ligue 1, showing the depth of quality that forms in the league. It doesn’t matter if it is home grown talent or overseas imports, there are always diamonds in the rough waiting to be discovered. So who are the best young players currently plying their trade in Ligue Un?
5 best youngsters in Ligue Un
Edouard Camavinga (Rennes)
It has been a fast rise to stardom for Edouard Camaving as the Rennes midfielder’s stock has exploded in the past 12 months. The 18-year old only made his senior debut for Rennes in April 2019 and has, since then, featured in Ligue 1, the Champions League and both debuted and scored for the French national side. His surging runs and slick passing made him a handful all over the pitch and has seen him destroy some of the best sides in the world including the likes of PSG and Marseille. His debut for Les Bleus was the youngest for a player since 1914 and has caught the eye of both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. The sky is truly the limit for this young prodigy.
Jonathan Ikone (Lille)
Lille have always been one of the overachievers in French football and they are a constant source of recruitment for the biggest clubs which, in turn, makes them an attractive proposition for the best young players. Whilst the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Vince Osimhen have moved on, French winger Jonathan Ikone has stayed with Lille and is now reaping the rewards for this choice.
Having joined from PSG in 2018, Ikone’s pace has made him a handful for defences to handle getting in behind and whipping crosses into the penalty area. He has only scored 7 times in 75 league matches for Les Dogues but 2 goals in the Europa League so far has shown that he could soon become the complete attacker many expect him to be over the coming year or so. At 22, he remains one of the best young players in Ligue Un.
Benoit Badashile (Monaco)
Monaco have had to do some vast rebuilding over the past few years but that has allowed some promising young talents to shine such as young defender Benoit Badashile. Both powerful and agile, the young Frenchman has proven himself to be wise beyond his years and take on and nullify some of the best strikers in the game. Alongside this, his 6ft 4in physique has made him a nightmare to handle at set pieces and Badashile has already notched up 3 goals for Monaco in his short career so far. With a France call-up not too far way and many big European side monitoring the prodigy, Badashile is very much a player to watch out for in the not too distant future.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Nice)
For some, returning to your homeland can be what you need to flourish and this has been the case for Nice’s attacking midfielder Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Having failed to shine at Arsenal, Reine-Adelaide moved to Angers where he finally was able to showcase the potential many thought he possessed.
A move to Lyon didn’t quite work out and a loan to Nice has allowed him to shine once again. The dynamic midfielder is always able to create space on the ball and provide crosses for strikers to convert in the area. He is also excellent at set-pieces making him a threat from both corners and free kicks anywhere around the box. Sometimes, there is no place like home! One of the best young players currently plying his trade in Ligue Un, surely it won’t be too long before he finds himself back at another top club.
Albin Lafont (Nantes)
France has produced many great keepers over the last few years and it looks likes Albin Lafont is the latest one to become a star. The Nantes keeper has flourished so far in Ligue 1 showcasing speed and agility many would not expect from someone who is 6ft 5. His reactions are extremely quick too enabling him to thwart shots that others would not be able to react to in time. The 21 year old is currently on loan from Fiorentina and a good season in Ligue 1 with Nantes will have many eyes in both France and Italy watching very closely at his form for the rest for the season.