Sven Botman has been one of the revelations of this season in Ligue 1 and LOSC Lille coach Christophe Galtier has compared the young Dutchman to one of the most exciting young players he worked with at AS Saint-Etienne.
Signed from Ajax last summer, the 21-year-old Botman immediately established himself in the Lille side and has formed a formidable central defensive partnership with the veteran José Fonte, helping keep Les Dogues right in touch at the top of the table before hosting Stade de Reims on Sunday.
Brought in to replace Gabriel when the Brazilian was sold to Arsenal, Botman was scouted by Lille’s transfer guru Luis Campos during an impressive loan spell at SC Heerenveen in the Eredivisie.
“When Luis came to me and told me about the player it didn’t take me long to see what he could do, because we knew he would be good in the air, on the ground and with the ball,” said Galtier.
“So I’m not surprised to see how he’s playing now, although he does have hard-working midfielders in front of him and José is there with his experience to direct him and guide him through games.”
Asked if Botman, who only celebrated his 21st birthday last Tuesday, was the best young central defender he had managed, Galtier recalled one young talent who came through on his watch at Saint-Etienne almost a decade ago now.
“I had Kurt Zouma who was playing there for Saint-Etienne before he turned 17. I hope Sven can go on to have a career like Kurt,” he said.
Zouma was just 19 when he was sold to Chelsea and he has featured in two Premier League title-winning campaigns in west London while also winning seven caps for France.