Eli Junior Kroupi: Introducing Lorient’s Next Gem

Eli Junior Kroupi is Lorient’s new golden boy.


Born and raised in Brittany, he is Lorient through and through – and that is in no part down to his father, Eli Senior, having plied his trade for Les Merlus for four years in the early 2000s. Eli Junior worked his way through the youth ranks and scored an impressive 9 goals in 18 games for Lorient’s B side in both 2021/22 and 2022/23, featuring more prolifically in the latter season.


This gave him a goal every 106 minutes – and at only 16 years of age at the time, this caught the attention of Lorient manager Régis Le Bris. This culminated in Kroupi being given his Lorient debut at the tail end of last season, coming on for 7 minutes in a 2-1 win against Strasbourg.


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This season has turned him from a promising prospect to a player ready to lead Lorient’s midfield for years to come. Predominantly an attacking midfielder, this season has seen him play in a variety of positions, including attacking midfield, left wing, and as a central striker.


Players like Eli Junior are highly desired in the modern game, especially as modern systems look for certain traits in their advanced midfielders – the ability to operate in the half-space, the ability to provide elite build-up play, a significant off-ball presence, and efficient ball-striking and shot conversion rate. Kroupi is slightly raw, but he has every trait listed in bundles. If he wants to move away from being an attacking midfielder and more so into a striker role, his skillset could easily translate.


First, let’s look at Kroupi’s main skillsets. Two things immediately pop out upon looking at his stats – his shot effectiveness, and his link-up play. Eli Junior has a shots on target rate of 60% – making him one of the most accurate shooters in Europe. This indicates that when he receives the ball, there is more chance than not of him getting a shot on goal.



Partnered with his stellar goal-scoring ratio of a goal every 223 minutes, putting him in first place amongst Lorient’s squad, he is not only an extremely accurate, but an extremely efficient finisher. A great example of this was in Lorient’s 3-3 draw against Lyon – Kroupi scored 2 goals from a 0.4 xG, with his first shot being a brilliant curled strike from outside the box to put Lorient ahead. 


His link-up play is also extremely good. He has a 80.4% pass completion rate and 0.31 assists per 90, ranking in the 92nd and 95th percentile amongst forwards in Europe’s top 5 leagues, whilst his 1.03 interceptions per 90 put him in the 99th percentile. He has scored 4 goals, second only to Romain Faivre (5) and January arrival Mohamed Bamba in Lorient’s squad, whilst he tops the Lorient ranks for expected goals (2.86), and goal contributions (7).


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Kroupi’s off-the-ball work is also essential in the modern game, with many elite players also putting in immense work when the ball is not at their feet. The 17-year-old excels at intercepting the ball – a skill that requires intelligence to read the game, and a high work rate in order to obtain these interceptions.


The Lorient youngster will be looking for more and more opportunities throughout the season, and based on the small sample size we have seen so far, he surely deserves it. With an elite understanding of where his opponents are, where his teammates are, and most importantly, where he is, Eli Junior Kroupi offers a combination of great build-up play, individualistic flair, and a real eye for goal. Expect to see more in the coming seasons from this young French prodigy.


By: Jude Short / @Jayesse66

Featured Image: Sebastien Salom-Gomis / AFP