Nantes' Matthis Abline celebrates a goal

Matthis Abline: Helping Les Canaris to Fly

Matthis Abline: Helping Les Canaris to Fly

Publish on 04/08 at 20:00 - E. DEVIN


Put into Nantes' lineup following a season-ending injury to Moses Simon, the Rennes loanee has hit the ground running under Antoine Kombouaré

With two goals in two starts for FC Nantes, Matthis Abline has helped Antoine Kombouaré wring a new-manager bounce from Les Canaris. Even if they were pegged back against Nantes at the weekend, the young winger has been impressive indeed since coming into the side in place of the injured Moses Simon upon the veteran manager's appointment. Intriguingly, Kombouaré has used Abline on the left flank, rather than as a central striker, where he's played the bulk of his career but he's impressed there nonetheless.

His recent resurgence may come as some surprise to casual observers -- Abline hadn't scorerd since September for Nantes, and was rarely a starter, even when Simon was away at the Africa Cup of Nations. An afterthought under Jocelyn Gourvennec, he had feature more regularly under Pierre Aristouy but looked fast be becoming a forgotten man. This was the case even as the team were starved of attacking options with both Simon and Egyptian striker Mostafa Mohamed at AFCON and Ignatius Ganago unavailable through injury.

A player who's been threatening to break through at Rennes for some time, Abline is still just 21, having made his professional debut just weeks after his 18th birthday. The arrivals of Martin Terrier, Arnaud Kalimuendo and Amine Gouiri have blocked his path, but he sparkled in a loan spell with Le Havre in 2022, scoring six goals in sixteen matches. After impressing with the French U-20s as captain, hes also been capped for Les Espoirs, netting in his first start and has scored for Rennes as well, including in the Europa League.

His arrival this season to Nantes, with a purchase option was thus meant to represent the next step for the youngster. A skilled dribbler and an astute finisher, Abline has looked increasingly a complete attacking player over the course of his development, but has scarcely been given a chance until the appointment of Kombouaré, even agitating for a move away in January. The arrival of the veteran manager has made all the difference, though, even if he's framed his playing Abline on the left as a matter of necessity.

“I've been at the club for ten days, ten days since I saw him in training and I've seen a lad full of talent, with lots of quality,” explained the coach. “I had to find a place for him, knowing that Mostafa (Mohamed) can only play through the middle. I thought about it and one night, I said to myself that he could play on the left, especially after Simon's injury." As Komboauré admitted, though "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. He was surprised, but I said to him: what do you prefer: playing center forward and not scoring or going in on the left and scoring goals?”

Clearly the latter seems to be the fix at the moment, and if Abline can show more of his potential against former side Le Havre at the weekend, Kombouaré's inspired choice may just well end up saving Les Canaris' season.

Top videos