The French Ligue 1 is great at producing young wingers. Just by mentioning Kylian Mbappé and Bernardo Silva, you get an idea of the amount of talent that has been nurtured in this league. Many big clubs look to Ligue 1 to strengthen their attack. This is helped by the fact that France is the world’s second-biggest exporter of professional players.
We have made this data analysis to focus on Ligue 1’s young attacking prospects and to see the future that Ligue 1 has in terms of wingers. This report will focus on finding some of the best young wingers that are currently playing in Ligue 1. Because these findings are purely based on the certain important data and statistics and do not consider all the possible data, the report only serves as a starting point to identify promising wingers in Ligue 1. Detailed analysis of the players might be required in the future to understand their actual potential and style of play.
Since this report is about finding young talents, we have only included players with a maximum age of 23 years. It is also important to know that every player in this analysis has played at least 1000 minutes of football in Ligue 1 this season. This criterion is important to create a fair comparison among the wingers since a player who has played a significantly fewer number of minutes than another player could have inflated statistics, but it does not necessarily make him a better player.
The final criterion is to consider only those players that have significantly served the team as a winger. Although it is impossible to find players that have only played in one position throughout a season due to the tactical flexibility of the modern managers, this report will only have wingers who have not deviated away from their position for too long.
One key requirement for a winger is his crossing ability. It is one of the most dangerous tools that a winger has to create danger.
For this, we will look at how many crosses the players make per game and their success rate. This will give us an idea of whether or not they make many crosses and if those crosses go to a player for them to finish.
The players that stand out the most are Adam Ounas from Nice (3.49 crosses and a 30.43% success rate), Samuel Grandsir who played in Stade Brest (3.74 crosses and a 27.69% success rate) and Maxwel Cornet from Lyon (3.35 crosses and a 31.48% success rate).
Also mentionable are Ibrahima Niane from Metz who has the highest success rate (41.67%) but only makes 1.04 crosses per game and Fodé Ballo-Touré from Monaco (3.05 crosses and 32.79% success rate)
Another main trait for a winger is his dribbling ability. With this, he can escape pressure and create chances for his own and his teammates. If a winger is good at dribbling, he can escape difficult situations in order to help the team attack.
This is always a nice characteristic to have in a team as potentially, the winger could create opportunities out of nothing.
From this perspective, Youcef Atal from Nice stands out with his 12.02 dribbles per game which are the most. However, his success rate is not as great (46.48%) but this could be explained by his many dribbling attempts.
Next, Ounas appears again with his 9.03 dribbles per game and 52.1% success rate, a good statistic. Samuel Kalu from Bordeaux also does well with 8.79 dribbles per game and a 52.14% success rate.
On the top left of the quadrant is Ballo-Touré who has the highest dribbling success rate (61.11%) but does have lower dribbling attempts than the average.
A winger has to take his chances when he is near the goal. This adds value to a player. This is why we look at his touches in the box which shows us how deep into the opponent’s area he is and how many shots per game he takes. Consequently, it shows us if he aims to finish when in the box to create danger.
The first player that stands out is Irvin Cardona from Stade Brest. He makes 4.37 touches in the box and 2.51 shots per game. After that, Raphinha from Rennes with 2.93 touches in the box and 2.23 shots per game.
Honourable mentions go to S. Kalu who is joint as the top with the most shots per game (2.51) but has fewer touches in the box (2.32). This shows us that he prefers shooting from farther away, not inside the area.
Also, Rémi Oudin from Bordeaux has good stats with 3.22 touches in the box and 2.05 shots per game.
Being a part of the attack, a winger has to ideally contribute with goals as well as being a good finisher. This is why studying the difference between a player’s xGoal contribution per game to his actual non-penalty goals per game is important.
The example to follow here from Ligue 1 is Neymar from PSG as he is a winger who scores many goals. We do not count penalties in this metric as they do not resemble a player’s goal threat in open play.
Once again, I. Cardona immediately stands out in the top-right quadrant with an xG per game of 0.31 and 0.35 non-penalty goals per game. This means he is overachieving in terms of his finishing currently. Further behind is Stephy Mavididi from Dijon with 0.24 xG per game and 0.3 non-penalty goals per game. He is also overachieving.
The next wingers in the chart are M. Cornet (0.16 xG per game and 0.25 non-penalty goals per game) and Mounir Chouiar from Dijon (0.18 xG per game and 0.23 non-penalty goals per game).
After this data analysis, we have found three wingers that stand out from the rest and are performing as the best young wingers in Ligue 1
The first highlighted player is the young winger from Lyon who has already played at UEFA Champions League level. The facets he does best in are crossing and his goalscoring ability. For crossing, he is one of the best with his 3.35 crosses per game and a 31.48% success rate. for his goal-scoring ability, he is actually overachieving as the difference between his xG per game and non-penalty goals per game is 0.09.
He is then average in him taking opportunities when near the goal but does better in his dribbling. He has a 58.46% success rate which is one of the highest along with 4.03 dribbles per game.
All of this makes him a player who stands out in two characteristics a winger should have and is also decent in the other two, making him a young prospect to look forward to.
The nest interesting player is Ounas from Nice. He was on loan from Napoli and will play in Serie A next year. He is a good crosser as he has a 30.43% success rate and makes 3.49 crosses per game. This makes him one of the best in this area.
Furthermore, he is also one of the best dribblers with 9.03 dribbles per game and a 52.1% success rate. This potentially means that when on the wing, he can get himself into quality crossing opportunities through his dribbling.
Then he is average in the remaining statistics which are him taking opportunities and his goalscoring ability. However, with his young age, he can still work on this become a bigger goal threat.
On the other hand, Cardona excels in the data that has to do with shooting. He has the best statistics for both his opportunity taking and his goalscoring ability.
For him taking opportunities, he makes 4.37 touches in the box and 2.51 shots per game. Then, concerning him scoring goals, his xG per game is 0.31 and his non-penalty goals per game are 0.35. Therefore, he is a good finisher as he is overachieving in this factor.
However, he struggles with dribbling as he is below average in that area, but he is average in his crossing abilities with 1.98 crosser per game and a success rate of 29.41%. This shows that Cardona likes to be involved more in the final moments of attack than in creating goals for his team.
This data analysis has shown us some useful metrics to measure wingers. Nowadays wingers are asked to score goals as well as to create them so different types of metrics have to be used. Thus, a winger today can not just be a good dribbler.
The data analysis also gave a good indication of talented young wingers that Ligue 1 has. With Cornet, Ounas, and Cardona, the French league possesses three very talented wingers under the age of 23 years.