Unless you are an avid follower of the French second division, you probably have not heard of Lys Mousset. If so, you have come to the right place.
20 year old Mousset is six foot tall and equally adept on both the right and left flanks, and indeed as a centre-forward. He has risen through the youth system at Le Havre, famous throughout the lands for producing many high quality footballers – most recently Premier League winner Riyhad Mahrez. Mousset only started to hold down a regular starting berth for Les Ciel et Marine (The Sky and Navy) this season, after a fleeting number of substitute appearances since his debut in 2014.
This season, Mousset has well and truly announced himself on the Ligue 2 stage. He has scored an incredible 14 goals in just 16 starts (with 12 appearances off the bench) and has also notched three assists. Some attribute this searing run of form to Le Havre; and former USA Men’s National Team, boss Bob Bradley, who has helped Mousset transform himself from a bit part winger into a deadly, old fashioned number 9. In this way, he lives up to the number on the back of his shirt.
Mousset has a strong frame and is a quick and powerful runner. His finishes include some classy side-footers into the corner as well as 40-plus yard thunderbolts – underlining his status as a on-the-edge-of-your-seat type player. The comparison with Riyad Mahrez is not quite like looking in a mirror, for the two have a fairly dissimilar style of play and a definitely different physique. However, they are both technically gifted and can score all sorts of types of goals. What is on Mousset’s side is time – it is quite scary to think what a player he could become if his potential is fulfilled.
His Le Havre upbringing is evident for all to see. Mousset has technical ability streets ahead of most his age, and in fact most in the French second division. His exploits for the club prompted a call-up to Patrick Gonfalone’s French U20 side for this year’s Toulon Tournament, and came off the bench in the final – a 1-2 loss to Gareth Southgate’s England U21s.
Le Havre agonisingly missed out on promotion to the top flight of French football on goal difference, and with no play-off system, they are destined to another season in Ligue 2. This; unfortunately for fans of the Normandy based side, means that they stand a much greater chance of losing their local boy, born just down the road in Montivilliers.
Bristol City have already been linked to Mousset, allegedly making a £3 million offer. The Robins may be punching above their weight trying to land Mousset, but they do boast 2015 Ligue 2 Player of the Year Jonathan Kodjia in their ranks (who hit 20 goals in his debut Championship season earning him a call-up to the Ivory Coast national side). This is in addition to youngster Arnold Garita, signed for £50,000 from Chateauroux in January 2016. Turkish giants Fenerbahce S.K are rumoured to be sniffing around the 20-year-old, with it likely that many Ligue 1 clubs are also monitoring the situation.
Wherever this young Frenchman may end up, his talent is clear and with the necessary application and a slice of good fortune, Mousset could well be another success from Le Havre’s now legendary academy.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Alex Hannam