Born in Montreuil in September 2000, French youth international Sacha Boey is the latest name in the endless list of entertaining defenders to burst onto the European scene. A Cameroonian by descent with a host of suitors for club and country, the right-back has been plying his trade in the Süper Lig since 2021, with notable interest from household giants Arsenal and Marseille. But who is this talented young man driving lovers of the continental game into a frenzy, and what can we expect in 2024?
Operating primarily on the right side of the defensive line, Boey began his youth career in 2011 with Jean-Roger Chapelle’s district side, FC Romainville. He impressed with his searing pace and composure on the ball, enjoying a notable debut campaign. The talented defender spent one season with the club, inevitably attracting the gaze of one of Les Bleu’s oldest clubs, Red Star.
Founded in Paris in 1897, the five-time Coupe de France winners hold a proud tradition of harnessing the raw ability of some of the capital’s most talented footballers. Boey joined their ranks in 2012, aged 12, and impressed immediately. His growth at the club was well-noted, and the prospect enjoyed two years with the Championnat National side before signing for Stade Rennais of Ligue 1 in 2014.
The move presented the talented youngster with the opportunity to test himself at the famous Henri Guérin Training Centre. Officially announced as the nation’s premier youth academy in 2000 by the French Football Federation, the facility has called itself home to generations of gifted names, and at the core of this illustrious academy is the under-19 side, triumphant in the Coupe Gambardella in 1973, 2003, and 2008.
The centre is renowned for nurturing the skills of many of today’s household names, with players like Ousmane Dembélé and Eduardo Camavinga but two of the many to pass through the halls. With such, competition was unlike anything Boey had previously encountered in his young career, but it was a challenge he happily embraced.
At 14 years old, the rising star set about proving his worth in the saturated world of full-backs, intent on utilising his pace and ability to track his man as he scaled the various age ranks within the club. His dedication to personal development was commendable, and he earned his first underage International call-up for France in 2017.
Following a steady path of personal and athletic development, Boey would earn his long-awaited professional debut against Toulouse FC in a 2019 league fixture. The game ended in a 2-2 draw and supplied the extremely talented full-back with his first taste of the senior game. He would make eight appearances for the Ligue 1 side before joining Ligue 2 outfit Dijon on a season-long loan in October 2020.
The then 20-year-old impressed during his brief stint, earning 24 appearances for the side who were, at that time, plying their trade in the top tier. His performances captured the eye of scouts from across the continent, with a selection of teams intent on acquiring his services. But the promise of first-team football and the opportunity to feature in European competition enriched his young imagination, with a move to Turkish giants Galatasaray solidified in July of 2021.
The partisan support of Aslanlar revelled in Boey’s arrival, with confirmation of a four-year contract that would retain his services until the end of the 2024-25 campaign. As is the case with many talented prospects, there was a bedding-in period to acclimatise to a new country, way of life and, most importantly, a new brand of football with one of the world’s most passionate fanbases.
But as has been the case throughout his development, the Frenchman took the move in his stride, inevitably earning Süper Lig success during the 2022-23 campaign with the Turkish kingpins – their 23rd championship in the club’s history. Additionally, as his game advanced with the club, his growth on both sides of the field was evident, notching his first goal in a 2-2 Champions League draw against Copenhagen on September 20, 2023.
When analysing the attributes of this highly-rated 23-year-old, Boey is already comparable to many of the game’s elite across Europe’s big five leagues, the Champions League and the Europa League, when assessing those operating in his favoured position.
Defensively, he averages 3.3 key tackles per 90 minutes, ranking in the 98th percentile over the last 365 days of competition. Additionally, he averages 3.3 clearances per 90 (95 percentile) and sits in the 96 percentile for aerial battles won and 93rd for successful blocks made. However, his engine and desire to chase every opportunity remain a standout feature, with an astonishing average of 8 ball recoveries per 90 minutes ranking him on the top of the European pile.
Amongst the many chapters of study learned at the Henri Guérin Centre, maintaining possession has been a perennial trait of the Süper Lig’s rising star. His desire to carry the ball is evident, and he averages three key carries into the opposition’s final third per 90 minutes. Boey craves the ball and regularly works to receive possession in progressive areas. Amassing an average of 77 touches per game, 7 of those are in the final third, highlighting the player’s desire to impact the game in an attacking element.
As tactics and formations evolve, wing-backs earn an imperious reputation as additional attackers in many high-pressing systems. Boey averages 2.5 take-ons in the final third per 90 minutes while ranking in the 96 percentile for goals compared to players completing his role. His accuracy in the final third is beyond credible, and his goals-per-shot ratio ranks in the 95 percentile in Europe.
The boy raised in the Eastern suburbs of Paris has firmly established himself as a prominent figure in European football. With a combination of dedication, hard work, and an exceptional skillset, his growth on the pitch continues to attract the gaze of many of the continent’s most notable scouts, and anticipation towards a move to perennial powerhouse remains prominent with many.
Having spoken to those who know the player, his positive attitude is matched by his humility, endearing him to the loyal support of his adopted Turkish outfit and earning the respect of his peers. Sacha Boey’s growth in the game and his determination to excel outside his comfort zone are credible, making him a role model for aspiring players across the globe. His story is another remarkable example of the conveyor belt of French superstars plying their trade on the world stage, with many of the opinion that we are witnessing the growth of one of the most naturally talented players in European football.
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By: Shaun Connolly / @shaunconnolly85
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Mateusz Slodkowski / Getty Images