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One to watch: Benjamin André, Lille's midfield motor

Publish on 07/04/2021 at 14:00

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Jonathan David got the winning goal as LOSC went top with victory over Paris Saint-Germain, but it was Benjamin André who marked the world's most expensive player Neymar Jr. out of the game.

Lille gave themselves a real chance of securing a first Ligue 1 Uber Eats title since 2011 with victory over the defending champions PSG on Saturday, and André covering every blade of grass at the Parc des Princes was a large part of the reason why.

 

Ligue1.com takes a closer look at les Dogues' midfielder, whose bite is every inch as bad as his bark…

 

Back story:

 

Born in Nice to a Senegalese mother and French father - who died when André was 10 - in August 1990, the young Benjamin spent his formative years in Corsica, where he graduated from AC Ajaccio's youth academy. He was given his senior debut for the Bears a few weeks past his 18th birthday, helped them to promotion to Ligue 1 Uber Eats in 2011, and had made more than 200 appearances for the club in all competitions when he left for Stade Rennais FC in 2014.

 

Signed primarily as a right-back by Rennes, André blossomed into a box-to-box midfielder in Brittany, and ultimately became club captain in the position when he succeeded Romain Danzé in the role in 2017. He led the side to Coupe de France glory in 2019, Rennes beating PSG on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the Stade de France. Neymar got on the scoresheet that day, but not on Saturday - could André be set to go one better in terms of silverware this season too?

 

Neymar, Benjamin Andre, Lille

 

Style of play:

 

Today, André is a midfield all-rounder, just as happy destroying as creating. He career haul of 24 goals and 31 assists is testament to his ability in attacking areas, but his technique and sense of timing are just as valuable when he is shielding his centre-backs. LOSC outdid PSG 18-9 in interceptions and 21-13 for tackles last weekend, and a lot of that was down to their understated talisman.

 

Current campaign:

 

In Boubakary Soumaré, Xeka and Renato Sanches, Lille aren't short of talented central midfielders, but André has started more games than any of them this term. His lone assist in 2020-21 was a stunning left-footed cross for Jose Fonte to head home for a 1-1 draw against RC Strasbourg Alsace in February, but most of his best work has been stopping others following suit, such as Neymar, who was sent off on Saturday after his André-induced frustration spilled over.

 

André's last international outing was 10 years ago, for France's U21s. With N'Golo Kanté, Paul Pogba and Adrien Rabiot for competition, André may not make it to UEFA Euro 2020 with les Bleus, but Senegal are ready to pounce.

 

Watch: Highlights of Lille's 1-0 win over PSG

 

 

What they said:

 

"Ben's always been a fighter. We were 10 years old but this desire to always win and this fighting spirit at that age, it was really impressive. He missed his father but what was impressive was that at 10 years old, you felt like he was the man of the house. He had his mum and his sister but when he was talking he sounded like he was 25."

 

- childhood friend Mickaël Le Bihan, now an attacker with AJ Auxerre.

 

"There's still a long way to go. You can't talk about a final sprint when there are seven games left. We'll talk about it when there are only three matches left, we'll see where we are then. We still have important, difficult matches."

 

- André after the PSG victory.