Despite the departure of Eduardo Camavinga and the injury to Jérémy Doku, Stade Rennais FC continue their impressive record of youth integration with Kamaldeen Sulemana, Ligue 1 Uber Eats Young Player of the Month of October and already one of the Brittany side's main attacking - at only 19 years of age.
Stade Rennais FC bet big on Kamaldeen Sulemana last summer. Although the Ghanaian was coming off a remarkable season with FC Nordsjælland in the Danish Superliga (ten goals, four assists), he had no other credentials on his resumé. However, Rennes' investment seems to be paying off already, Sulemana having made a good start in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, with four goals and two assists in 13 appearances. He also struck against Vitesse Arnhem in Les Rouge et Noirs' narrow Europa Conference League win (1-2).
In the footsteps of Doku
In the absence of Jérémy Doku, the division's best dribbler in 2020-21, Kamaldeen Sulemana has easily taken his place in the current campaign. He has managed 41 dribbles this season, more than any other player. Only Adama Traoré (Wolverhampton, 56) and Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle, 45) have done better in Europe's top five leagues. Against Girondins de Bordeaux on 26 September, Sulemana completed eight of his 13 dribble attempts - only Neymar has managed more in a single Ligue 1 Uber Eats match this season (ten against OL).
The young Ghanaian is also shining in terms of his speed and ability to create situations with his movement on the ball. In addition to his dribbling, he has unleashed 13 shots and eight passes leading to a shot after carrying the ball at least five metres in Ligue 1 Uber Eats this season - a total of 21 shots generated thanks to this summer recruit. Only Kylian Mbappé (28) and Moses Simon (24), two players well established at the top of the league's assists chart, have done better. In his first game in the top flight, on 8 August, he opened his goalscoring account against RC Lens after a counter-attack in which he advanced some 20 metres before firing past Jean-Louis Leca.
Leading the charge
Kamaldeen Sulemana tops the list of goal involvement for players under under 21 years of age in Ligue 1 Uber Eats this season, ahead of another Danish league alumnus, Hugo Ekitike of Reims (four goals, one assist). It is hardly surprising to see a Rennes player shine in this area. In 2021-22, nine players born in the 21st century have appeared in at least one SRFC match in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, the highest total for any one team in Europe's top five leagues this season.
The Ghanaian is by far coach Bruno Genesio preferred young gun, with 766 minutes played in the top flight (followed in order by Lesley Ugochukwu, Jérémy Doku, Eduardo Camavinga, Adrien Truffert, Matthis Abline, Mathys Tel, Loum Tchaouna and Andy Diouf). Mathys Tel became - and remains - the only player born in 2005 to have played in the top flight. These nine players have played a total of 1,675 minutes in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, while in contrast, Rennes' players over the age of 30 have played fewer than 500 minutes (90 for Romain Salin, 405 for Jonas Martin). A sign that youth has taken over in Brittany.