Kylian Mbappe and the ‘Wonder of Youth’

TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh marvels at a prodigious striker and explains why young footballers are one of the game’s greatest charms…

Watching Wednesday night’s game between Manchester City and Monaco – a sure contender for one of the best of the season – it was hard not to enjoy a breakout performance from 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe. Within the first 10 minutes, the young Frenchman was already terrorizing the City defence and he capped off a great first half display with a goal, a cool half-volley past Willy Caballero.

This was Mbappe’s first Champions League start and there is something very special about watching a young player rise to the occasion so capably. Putting partisanship aside, the emergence of any youngster who is ready to perform on Europe’s grand stage is a sight to be reveled in. Mbappe has already had a remarkable season, becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick in Ligue 1 earlier this month. Continue reading

A Ligue 1 XI – the Best of the Rest


In his first piece for TFN, Valentin Boulan selects a Ligue XI – minus the Big 2 of PSG and Monaco…

Following the recent emergence of PSG and Monaco as big players in European football, the French Ligue 1 has received a lot more attention from abroad, both from players and fans. With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Radamel Falcao now playing in a league whose best striker until recently was the agonizingly average Moussa Saw, Ligue 1 has experienced a huge qualitative boost.

However, this has not prevented the mass migration of many talented players (Patrick Aubameyang, Eden Hazard, Loic Remy, Mathieu Debuchy and Lisandro Lopez to name a few).  As a result, the divide between the “Big 2” and the rest is evident, and with Monaco only just promoted this season, this process is unlikely to reverse in the near future. Continue reading

Ligue 1: No Longer A French Backwater for Major European Football


Making his TFN debut, Huw Evans assesses the improving fortunes of domestic football in France…

Most football fans around the UK will know a little bit about France’s Ligue 1.  Indeed most fans will recognize the top clubs from their Wednesday and Thursday nights’ European football viewings on ITV; Olympique Lyonnais, Olympique de Marseille, Paris St Germain, LOSC Lille, but that’s about as far as it goes for most.  Indeed some of us have had the fortune (or misfortune depending on how much time you’ve dedicated to it) to experience the Football Manager series.  As a result one can reel off endless pointless facts relating to the supposed wonderkids of France’s clubs.

I lived in France for a year and had quite a varying experience of French league football.  At the bottom end, the elation of FCO Dijon’s 2010-11 Ligue 2 promotion campaign and Clermont Foot 63’s 2011-12 so close yet so far Ligue 2 title-challenge. At the other end, the heady heights of Stade de Gerland where Les Gones (Olympique Lyonnais) turn out.  My weekend afternoons on the terraces have nurtured a keen interest in French football, at all levels, and a respect for its most prodigious talents.  Continue reading

Beckham Looking to Bow Out in Style


The False Nine’s Joe Bookbinder attempts to second-guess David Beckham’s next, and most likely final, career move in football…

Ever since David Beckham announced that he was going to leave LA Galaxy at the end of the MLS season to pursue a new challenge in the twilight of his career, the football world hasn’t stopped trying to second-guess where ‘Golden Balls’ may end up. Continue reading