18. François Kamano
Besides an odd domestic cup triumph here and there, there is no doubt that Bordeaux have been French football’s perennial underachievers for far too long now. Unfortunately for fans of Les Girondins, the success enjoyed by the likes of PSG,
Lyon, Monaco, Marseille and Lille over the past 20 years has left them looking on with a yearning desire to repeat the wondrous feats of years gone by. With such a prestigious historical backdrop and sizeable fanbase, the club which last clinched the
Ligue 1 title back in 1998/99 should at least be a regular fixture in European
Born in Conakry, capital city of his native Guinea, François Kamano came up through the youth ranks of his hometown club Satellite, before being spotted by French side Bastia, who subsequently signed him back in 2013. He spent a year training with their B team, before earning promotion to the Corsican team’s senior squad. One can only imagine how a teenage Kamano must have felt having realised his dream of playing professional football in France, having emerged from his impoverished roots.
Inevitably, given his impressive physique and dribbling ability, Kamano has already been compared to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. His pace does allow him to glide past defenders with ease in wide positions so, in this respect, it is easy to see why people are determined to liken his style to that of the Gunners’ all-time record goalscorer. Of course, it almost goes without saying that the youngster must add a greater end product to his game before he can be held in such high regard. Having only turned 21 in May earlier this year, time is definitely on his side.
Undoubtedly, Kamano’s greatest strength lies with his pace, which goes a long way towards explaining why he is such a highly sought-after young player. The ability to transition quickly from defence to attack is imperative, and is a concept the vast
majority of coaches now look to implement. Ligue 1 is a physical league in which it is conceivable for youngsters to be bullied off the ball, but there are no signs of this being the case for the 1.82 metres tall forward.
The Guinean has developed a reputation for his tendency to cut inside from the left flank, which is yet another reason why so many have dubbed him as the new Thierry Henry. “That’s nice to hear because Thierry was a hero of mine,” he once said when
quizzed on the comparison with the legendary marksman. “I used to watch him on TV when I was back in Guinea, so being compared to him is great, especially at such a young age, when there is still room for improvement.” It is refreshing to hear the
youngster say how pleased he is to be spoken about in the same breath as one of the true greats of the game, but also acknowledge the fact he still has a long way to go before he reaches that standard.
The young international also recognises the need to be able to adapt his game depending on the opponent. “I’m trying to raise my level, and I’m working on improving different aspects of my play,” Kamano recently explained. “I know I have to keep my game simple, play to my strengths – use my power and speed – and vary the way I attack.” You need only watch a brief highlights reel to realise the majority of his goals come via him cutting in from the left-hand side and finding the far corner.
Bordeaux coach Jocelyn Gourvennec has looked to play down any comparisons with Henry, saying it is up to Kamano to make his own mark on the game: “François is more of a powerful player, but he manages to go past players like Henry used to. I think it’s still a little premature to compare him to such a great player, but he has a big future and what he is doing at the moment is very good. He needs to keep progressing.”
Kamano’s professional debut for Bastia came on the 9 th August 2014 in a 3-3 draw against Marseille at the 16,000 capacity Stade Armand-Cesari, replacing Congolese winger Christopher Maboulou for the final eight minutes of the match. A little over
four months later, he scored his first goal for I Turchini against Caen in a game which ended 1-1.
In July 2016, Kamano put pen-to- paper on a four-year deal with Bordeaux, leaving Bastia having made a total of 50 appearances for I Lioni di Furiani. Eight goals and three assists earned him trial spells at AIK and Villarreal, while there was also a great deal of interest domestically from the likes of Rennes and Guingamp. The deal was reportedly worth €2.5 million plus bonuses – not an insignificant amount for a player still largely unproven at the top level in France. Bordeaux can expect to make a very hefty profit when the time comes to sell Kamano on to one of the wealthier clubs, as they inevitably will.
If Kamano can look to improve tactically, offer more of a defensive contribution and add a greater end product to his game then he will be ready to play at the very highest level before long. He has raw talent and all the ingredients required to become a top player. His rise from humble beginnings should inspire him to keep striving for the summit of world football – there is no doubt he has the ability to do so.
By: Jordan Russell/@JordRuss96