Eli Junior Kroupi: Lorient’s Teenage Talent

Club: Lorient

Nationality: France
Position: SS, ST, AM, LW
Preferred Foot: Right

Height: 5’10”/179cm

Age: 17

Strengths: instincts, finishing, IQ, creativity, pressing, acceleration, ball-striking, ball-manipulation

Areas for Development: weak-foot


It has been nothing short of a catastrophic season for Lorient. One year after finishing 10th in the Ligue 1 table, Lorient find themselves in peril of dropping down to the French second tier after losing each of their last seven matches. They sit 17th in the table, one point above last-placed Clermont Foot, three behind Metz in the relegation play-off spot, and six behind newly promoted Le Havre.



However, if there’s one player who has been a bright spark, it’s Eli Junior Kroupi. The French forward is an intelligent playmaker who loves to roam about the pockets and test the goalkeeper with an impressive ball-striking ability and killer instinct in front of goal belies his tender age. Kroupi’s awareness of space and instinctive reactions help him create chances for himself and those around him.

Playing as a second striker or false 9, he loves to drop deep and play through balls in behind to other attackers or combine with them to make runs arriving in the box where he’s most dangerous and can show off his composure in front of goal and finishing. He’s capable of many different types of finishes — be it outside the box, first- time shots, or volleys, he can strike the ball cleanly and get precision and power into his shots.


Moreover, his short stride enables him to boast not just a stellar close control, but a sharp burst of speed to accelerate to quickly create separation. He’s hard to tackle in tight areas, and his quick feet help him to shift the ball and create an inch of space and carve out a scoring opportunity.


He’s racked up 5 goals and 3 assists in 28 appearances for Lorient this  season, and perhaps his finest night came in October when he scored a brace in their 3-3 draw vs. Lorient. One of the goals would see Kroupi peel off his market and anticipate where the ball was going to end up, running into the box and showing off his poacher-like instincts. In doing so, he became the youngest player to score a brace in Ligue 1 since Bernard Zénier in 1974, at 17 years old and 107 days.



The Frenchman’s intelligent movement enables him to create scoring opportunities at a moment’s notice, and whilst he isn’t the tallest, he’s displayed good heading ability in the top-flight. His quality box movement allows him to create space for him to head the ball into the back of the net — even on goal-kicks, he can knock the ball down for a teammate to control. Off the ball, Kroupi works hard and is a relentless presser. He constantly puts pressure on the front line to recover the ball high up the pitch. This style goes hand in hand with his instinctive mentality. 


Eli Junior Kroupi’s biggest room for development is the usage of his weaker left foot. He’s very right-side dominant and can therefore avoid using his left in situations where he could release the ball with his left quicker. Lorient’s new star has great all-round play, a complete forward who can play across the entire front line or just behind it. Wherever it is, give him freedom to roam and he’ll hurt teams.


Despite adding World Cup winners Tiémoué Bakayoko and Benjamin Mendy and other big names like Marseille’s Isaak Touré and Amiens’ Formose Mendy, Lorient have suffered a torrent spell, taking just one point from their last eight matches. Les Merlus will travel to Marseille on Sunday before hosting Clermont Foot on the final day. Barring a miracle, it seems that Lorient’s spell in the top-flight will be coming to an end after four years.



The son of Ivory Coast international Elie Kroupi, who scored 37 goals in 122 appearances for Lorient between 2000 and 2004 and won the Coupe de France with them, Kroupi joined Lorient’s academy in 2013 and has quickly worked his way up the ranks. Kroupi made his professional debut on June 3, 2023 in a home match vs. Strasbourg, breaking Mattéo Guendouzi’s record as the youngest Lorient player in club history.


Three months later, he scored in a 5-3 defeat at Nantes, becoming the youngest scorer in Lorient’s history and smashing André Ayew’s record. At 17 years of age, Kroupi has shown that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, impressing not just for his hometown club, but France’s youth teams as well, having scored 9 goals in his first 9 appearances for France’s U-17 team.


Whether or not they manage to stave off relegation, it’s clear that Eli Junior Kroupi’s days at the Stade du Moustoir could be numbered. Whilst Lorient president Loïc Féry has indicated his desire to keep him at the club for as long as possible, Lorient’s recent history suggests otherwise. Over the past two years, they’ve sold Armand Laurienté (Sassuolo – €10.1 million), Dango Ouattara (Bournemouth – €22.5m), Terem Moffi (Nice – €22.5m), and Enzo Le Fée (Rennes – €20m) for big-money fees, and it’s only a matter of time before Kroupi becomes the latest player to depart Les Merlus for a sizable profit.


By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_

Featured Image: Sebastien Salom-Gomis / AFP