Top 5 young footballers in Ligue 1 this season
It is always exciting to see young players in the field and their path to make a name for themselves in football. Even though the French Ligue 1 is criticised by many for being less competitive and as a league in which PSG dominates, it never had scarcity when it comes to producing talented young footballers.
From Eric Cantona of Auxerre, Zinedine Zidane of Cannes, Eden Hazard of Lille, and Ousmane Dembele of Rennes; academies of French clubs have produced a bulk of talented young footballers who later migrated to other leagues and became superstars.
However this is not an article about the superstars of past, but superstars in the making. Only the players who are aged 21 or below have been considered for this list. Here are the top five young footballers who currently ply their trade in French Ligue 1.
#5 Issa Diop – Toulouse
Age - 21 (Born 9 January 1997)
Nationality - French
A name which might be highly unpopular among the football fans outside France, Diop is one of the best young French defenders at present. An academy product of Toulouse, Diop joined Les Pitchouns at a young age of nine and made the senior debut for them in 2015.
A centre-back who is physically well built, he is a player who has clear dominance in aerial duels due to his height. Football was never a strange sport for young Diop; he is the grandson of Libasse Diop, the first Senegalese footballer to play in French first division.
Issa Diop, however, decided to represent France in international football. Despite his young age, Issa Diop has been rewarded by the captain's armband several times this season by manager Pascal Dupraz due to his passion and leadership.
Capped almost 40 times by different youth national teams of France so far, Diop was also part of French squad which won Under-19 Euros in 2016. With a bulk of senior players ahead of him in the pecking order now, it would be difficult for Diop to break into Les Bleus right away. However, he has faith in himself and already rejected a possibility of representing Senegal.
Diop had offers from Monaco and Inter Milan in last summer but decided to stay with his hometown club. Even though his club is going through a tough season as of now, challenges like these would only bring out the best in Diop and would be helpful in fulfilling his potential.