HE’S just bossed PSG, and he’s only 16.
Eduardo Camavinga had a starring role against the French Ligue 1 champions, providing a sumptuous cross that was turned in by Romain Del Castillo to shock Thomas Tuchel’s men and deliver a 2-1 win for his side Rennes.
In doing that, the Angola-born midfielder became the youngest ever player to record an assist in Ligue 1.
Last season, Camavinga broke another record – becoming the first player born after January 1, 2002 to start a game in Europe’s top five leagues, when he was named in the eleven against Monaco last May.
His rapid rise has drawn comparisons to French sensation Kylian Mbappe, and he’s another exciting talent that’s come through the ranks at Rennes.
The likes of Sylvain Wiltord, Yoann Gourcuff, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Ousmane Dembélé blossomed at the north-west French club, and have all made their mark on the game since.
And in Camavinga, it appears they have a new talisman to get excited about.
RAISED IN BRITTANY
The exciting prospect moved to Brittany when he was a baby with his family, and began playing for local side AGL-Drapeau Fougeres by six.
At the same age, he had taken a liking to judo – but decided to give that up to focus entirely on football.
His first coach Jo Burel was immediately taken aback by his protege.
“This is the first time I’d seen a player with such qualities,” he told Get French Football News.
“When we wanted to maintain a result, we put him in defence, if we needed a goal, we would put him in attack. He had the ability to do both.”
RENNES COME CALLING
With AGL-Drapeau Fougeres acting as a feeder club for Rennes’ academy, it wasn’t long before Camavinga was spotted by their scouts.
At the age of 11 he joined the youth set-up, and he was tipped for the top by then youth and reserve team coach, Julien Stéphan, who is now first team coach at Rennes.
By the age of 16, Camavinga signed his first professional contract with the club – the youngest player in the club’s history to do so.
In April 2019, he made his debut – coming on as a late sub against Angers, who incidentally Dembele made his bow against several years before.
But a man with such promise wasn’t going to warm the bench for long, and he was a mainstay in the Rennes midfield by May.
“Everyone appreciates him, he has the attributes to become a great player,” teammate Adrien Hunou revealed.
INTELLIGENT AND RESPONSIBLE
His attributes are clear to see. Standing at 6ft tall, he’s powerful and when deployed in a defensive midfield role understands his responsibilities in the team.
Playing like a player who belies his tender years, he works hard and tracks back, has exceptional positional sense in breaking up opposition attacks and looks for the sensible pass.
But his manager Stephan is cautious in asking too much of Camavinga too soon.
“He’s a talented boy, whom I know very well because I saw him in the youth teams,” he said.
“But he is a young player who will have to be protected.
“We must not forget that he is only sixteen and a half so we will have to protect him, he’ll need to continue to work and progress.
“He, of course though, has a lot of talent.”
HE’LL COST BIG MONEY
Since his rapid rise, Rennes have tied down Camavinga to a long-term contract that’ll see him through to 2022, that’ll warn off the bigger clubs. Although, should he continue on this ascent, it’s inevitable a big bid will come in soon.
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Camavinga has also began the process of gaining French nationality, so you can bet it won’t be long before he’s starring for the national team.
By that time, N’Golo Kante will be 31, and Les Bleus will be looking for his natural replacement.
In Camavinga, they certainly won’t have to gaze too far.