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One to watch: Tanguy Kouassi

Publish on 18/03/2020 at 12:00

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Paris Saint-Germain may boast some of the most established superstars in world football - think Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappé - but in Tanguy Kouassi they have unearthed a promising talent who may one day be spoken about with similar reverence.

The youngest player in PSG's first-team squad by quite some distance, 17-year-old Kouassi has shot to prominence in a short space of time.

 

Having made his first start for the club in their 5-0 win over Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League in December, Kouassi has now featured in 13 games in all competitions as Thomas Tuchel's side have maintained their four-pronged assault on silverware.

 

Able to play at centre-back or defensive midfield, Kouassi has made his presence felt despite having Thiago Silva, Presnel Kimpembe and Abdou Diallo for competition in the former position and Marquinhos and Idrissa Gueye in the latter.

 

But what else is there to know about Kouassi? Ligue1.com has the scoop.

 

Back story:

 

Neymar, Tanguy Kouassi, PSG 

Tanguy Nianzou Kouassi was born in Paris on 7 June 2002, four days before defending champions France were stunned by a group-stage exit from that summer's FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

 

Like Djibril Cissé from that ill-fated squad, Kouassi's parents are Ivorian and he remains eligible to represent both France and Côte d'Ivoire, but his own journey has been founded on the twin pillars of PSG and France almost since the start.

 

Always drawn to football, Kouassi joined the youth team of FC Épinay Athlético when he was six and cycled through the underage groups of US Sénart-Moissy - the club that found Kingsley Coman - and Pays de Fontainebleau RC before PSG made the player theirs when he was 14.

 

Kouassi was playing for PSG's Under-17s at 15 and the Under-19s aged 16, his meteoric rise since matched at international level. Last year Kouassi helped France to the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship and to third place at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, and he now has 41 appearances with Les Espoirs up to Under-18 level.

 

It was only a matter time before Tuchel called him up to PSG's first-team squad.

 

Style of play:

 

Standing at 1.87m- or 6'2"-tall, Kouassi has the physical characteristics of an old-fashioned centre-back: difficult for opposition centre-forwards to get away from; the height to win aerial battles in both boxes.

 

Yet Kouassi also reads the game well, his anticipation meaning he doesn't really need to lean on his athletic attributes, especially when PSG are defending. The youngster has fine short- and long-range distribution and a keen eye for goal, with five scored for France and three for PSG to date.

 

Throw in his ability to anchor the midfield and Kouassi has more than a few characteristics in common with the captain of that 2002 World Cup squad: Marcel Desailly.

 

Ronaldo, Marcel Desailly, Brazil, France

 

Current campaign:

 

Kouassi's first taste of first-team football actually came four days before the Galatasary match, the 17-year-old replacing Gueye 25 minutes into the capital club's 3-1 win at Montpellier Hérault SC in Round 17.

 

He has started four of his six Ligue 1 Conforama games since, with PSG's record in that time reading five games won, one drawn, none lost with 22 goals scored set against just six conceded.

 

Curiously, Kouassi's best game in that time was arguably PSG's worst. Les Rouge et Bleu looked to be on course for a 4-3 win against Amiens SC at the Stade de la Licorne in Round 25 after Kouassi had headed home two corners, but the hosts' luck was in that day and Serhou Guirassy snatched a 91st-minute equaliser.

 

Watch: Highlights of PSG's 4-4 draw with Amiens



Kouassi has also started in both domestic cups - the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France - helping PSG into the final of each competition, and was given his second taste of Champions League football last Wednesday, coming off the bench late on as PSG closed out a 3-2 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund in the last 16.

 

What you didn't know:

 

In making his Champions League debut against Galatasary in December, Kouassi became PSG's youngest ever player to feature in the competition at the age of 17 years, six months and five days old.

 

When he scored in PSG's 3-0 semi-final win over Stade de Reims in the Coupe de la Ligue in January - a rare close-range finish with his left foot - Kouassi bagged the club's landmark 4,000th goal in their 50-year history.

 

He may not have signed his first full professional contract yet, but Kouassi had already etched his name into the PSG record books.

 

Best goal:

 

Stopping goals may be more important to Kouassi's game than scoring them, but his attacking menace comes to the fore when PSG have a set piece around the opposition's penalty area.

 

Kouassi has a knack for finding space to meet deliveries from the likes of Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler, and nowhere can this be better witnessed than that 4-4 draw with Amiens.

 

The first goal - scored on the hour - is arguably the better, as Kouassi had two markers to rise above. The end result was never in doubt in either case, though.

 

Watch: The better of Kouassi's two headed goals against Amiens?


 

What he said:

 

"It's a good sign. It shows the confidence the club have in me and it's very good for me. I felt comfortable thanks to my teammates. They gave me strength." - Kouassi after making his debut against Montpellier.

 

"Playing centrally is a point of reference for me. Since the winter break the coach has used me in midfield. I don't mind playing in both positions, even if it's not easy. I make it work." - Kouassi on his versatility.

 

What they said:

 

"Kouassi is endowed with great technical ability, is capable of moving the game forward and has high stamina and work rate. He does not give up possession and is willing to do everything to win the ball back." - Kouassi's youth team appraisal at PSG.

 

"There were some players I knew before because they had a very high level, but if you want to talk about surprises then it's young Kouassi who really makes an impression!" - fellow centre-back Diallo after joining PSG from Dortmund.

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