PARIS (AP) – The defeat of judo is the gain of French football. Eduardo Camavinga is now the greatest talent in the country since that of Kylian Mbappé …
Mbappé helped France win the 2018 World Cup, recently made the Champions League final with Paris Saint-Germain and is world famous at the age of 21.
Many believe 17-year-old Camavinga could have a similar future.
“Kylian set the bar really high,” said Camavinga. “But it’s a source of inspiration for all young players.”
The first step for the Rennes midfielder is to make his debut in France, which could come against Sweden in the Nations League on Saturday.
“Yes, that would be a dream. A childhood dream, even though I’m still a child, ”said a smiling Camavinga at Clairefontaine training camp in France. “Representing your country is huge. My parents were attached to it, and so am I.
He was called up because Manchester United star Paul Pogba stepped down after testing positive for coronavirus. Camavinga’s idol growing up turned out to be Pogba, and he uses United’s midfielder’s room at Clairefontaine.
His path, however, could have taken a completely different direction.
“At first I didn’t want to play football, I wanted to get into judo,” Camavinga said. “Because my brother was doing judo and I wanted to do the same as him.
But he quickly started playing football in school, and his rapid rise has been such that coach Didier Deschamps even thinks Camavinga could feature in the European Championship next year.
“When the coach believes in you, it’s reassuring,” Camavinga said. “I don’t feel stressed or under pressure.”
Like Mbappé in adolescence, Camavinga burst onto the scene.
An astonishing performance against PSG last year – at just 16 years old – saw him score a goal with a superbly weighted long pass and make several electric bursts in the middle. A PSG team filled with internationals were powerless to stop him.
Camavinga promises not to get carried away.
“No, because I know where I’m from and if I’m wrong my parents will let me know,” he says. “They are with me every day, since I still live at home.”
He was born in Angola, moved to France at the age of 2, and was granted citizenship last year. He was spotted by Rennes at the age of 9 and made his debut at 16 by trainer Julien Stéphan – the son of France assistant coach Guy Stéphan.
According to a study carried out in 2019, Rennes has the second best network of scouts in France and the fifth best in Europe, according to a study carried out in 2019. The study, based on the minutes played in the five major European leagues by players from of the academy, ranked the best as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Lyon, Man United and Rennes.
Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé went through the Breton club before joining Borussia Dortmund. Barcelona then bought him for 105million euros ($ 126million) plus 40million euros ($ 48million) in bonuses, making him the sixth most expensive player in the world along with Pogba.
Camavinga could soon be worth more. The teenager combines a solid physique with devastating acceleration on the ball that allows him to work his way through midfield. He has the ability to slide the ball back and spin in one quick motion, reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane’s virtuoso technique against Brazil in the 2006 World Cup. And he can dribble with both feet, well. that he shoots better with his left.
He’s versatile and can take on a goalie role, but fits well in a wide midfield or as a game creator.
“Even if you always have to be careful when talking about a 17-year-old player, I don’t see any weak points,” said Guy Stéphan.
Veteran striker Olivier Giroud, who has scored 39 goals in 97 games for France, is almost twice Camavinga’s age but was impressed with the teenager.
“Eduardo surprised us with his maturity,” said Giroud. “It’s the start of a long adventure.”
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