Camavinga, Osimhen, Rennes, Lille

SEASON REVIEW: Camavinga, Osimhen and the 5 breakout stars of 2019-20

Publish on 01/05/2020 at 15:56


Perhaps only the keenest football anorak would have heard of Eduardo Camavinga or Victor Osimhen before this season started, but now, at the end of it, they are rightly household names. looks at the five players who have enjoyed a breakout season in the French top flight this term…

Eduardo Camavinga

Club: Stade Rennais FC

Age: 17

Country: France (U21 cap)/Angola

Position: Defensive midfielder

Camavinga, Rennes

Born in Cabinda province, Angola, in 2002, Camavinga moved to Brittany with his family when he was two and joined the Rennes youth academy at 11. He was handed his Ligue 1 Conforama debut last April in a 3-1 loss at Nîmes Olympique. Although Les Rouge et Noir's youngest-ever top-flight debutant at 16 years and five months old, few would have predicted how quickly Camavinga became central to Rennes' play this season.

Only top scorer M'Baye Niang, captain Damien Da Silva and fellow defender Hamari Traoré have played more league minutes among outfield players for the Bretons. Part of what makes the left-footer's rise so special is that he is a defensive midfielder holding the side together, not a young whipper-snapper up front with banks of seasoned pros behind him to mop up his mistakes. Little wonder France gave him his U21 debut in November, a week after he acquired French citizenship.

Victor Osimhen

Club: LOSC

Age: 21

Country: Nigeria (9 caps/4 goals)

Position: Striker

Watch: All 10 of Osimhen's goals scored before Christmas!


Osimhen may have been a full Nigeria international since 2017, but the Super Eagles no longer have the likes of Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George to call upon in attack, and an underwhelming two-year spell with Wolfsburg in Germany failed to inspire much confidence. Although Osimhen found his scoring boots last season, there was a suspicion that 12 goals in 25 games with Charleroi in Belgium might not translate into similar numbers on making the step up to French football.

To say that Osimhen has silenced the doubters would be a gross understatement. Only Kylian Mbappé, Wissam Ben Yedder and Moussa Dembélé have managed more than the 21-year-old's 13 goals in the league in 2019-20. Add in his four assists and Osimhen has had a hand in a goal every 135 minutes he has played for Les Dogues, helping the northerners up to fourth in the table, a point off Camavinga's Rennes.

Aurélien Tchouaméni

Club: AS Monaco

Age: 20

Country: France (U20 cap)/Cameroon

Position: Central midfielder

Tchouameni, Bordeaux

Tchouaméni was handed his Bordeaux debut last season, but with Otavio, Jaroslav Plasil, Toma Basic and Younousse Sankharé on the books, he found places in Les Girondins' midfield at a premium. Plasil and Sankharé both left last summer, but Basic remained the favourite to partner Brazilian Otavio in the heart of Paulo Sousa's midfield, whether the Portuguese tactician used a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-2-1 formation.

A year older and wiser, Tchouaméni was a force of nature this term, though. A quintessential box-to-box midfielder, the Rouen-born rocket was the perfect link between defence and attack, winning more tackles than any of his teammates whilst also attempting the most passes, of which 81 per cent were completed. The 20-year-old France youth international moved to Monaco in January, his career in the principality three games in when coronavirus halted play.

Tanguy Kouassi

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Age: 17

Country: France (U18 cap)/Côte d'Ivoire

Position: Centre-back

Kouassi, Kimpembe, PSG

Kouassi has been on PSG's books since the age of 14 and made his France U16 debut a year later. Long regarded as one of the most promising defensive talents in the country, Kouassi might still have worried about his chances of breaking into PSG's first team, with the likes of Dan-Axel Zagadou - now of Borussia Dortmund - seeking pastures new in search of regular first-team football in recent seasons. At 16, the chances of dislodging Thiago Silva and Co. were remote either way.

The Brazil captain remains a cornerstone at PSG, but since the winter months this season he has increasingly had Kouassi for company. The youngster started four of his six Ligue 1 Conforama games, with PSG's record in that time reading five games won, one drawn, none lost with 22 goals scored against just six conceded. Paris's youngest UEFA Champions League debutant at 17 years, six months and five days old, Kouassi also scored the club's 4,000th goal when they beat Stade de Reims in the Coupe de la Ligue in January.

Stephy Mavididi

Club: Dijon FCO

Age: 21

Country: England (U20 cap)/DR Congo

Position: Striker

Watch: Mavididi had two goals and an assist as Dijon held FC Nantes 3-3 in Round 24


An England youth international who has the youth academies of Arsenal and Juventus on his CV, it is fair to say that there have been high hopes for Mavididi for quite some time, yet after eight years at the North London club he left for Italy without a senior appearance to his name, and at 21, had featured in just one game with Juve's first-team - a 2-1 loss at SPAL last April. Six goals in 21 starts were a reasonable return for their U23s, but could Madividi do it on a consistent basis in the French top-flight?

Well, yes, it turns out, and with quite some aplomb. Cautious optimism has turned into sheer delight at times this season. Dijon may have been braced for a relegation battle but the fact they were seven points clear of the drop zone at the conclusion of the season was thanks in no small part to Madividi. Five goals and one assist - and eight strikes in all competitions - are a fine return for a struggling team. Madividi's dribbling, distribution and ability to score off either foot make the prospect of him making his loan deal permanent an exciting one indeed.