Manchester United, Barcelona and Arsenal are credited with interest for the 17-year-old, who’s available on a free transfer this summer. The “Jadon Sancho impact” is beginning to rear its head, and is a problem that footballing academies all over the world are having to take care of.
Ever since the England international left Manchester City and burst on the scene in record-breaking fashion at Borussia Dortmund at the onset of this 2018-19 year, young players throughout the planet have started weighing up their options in regards to making the jump into senior football.
It’s very likely that over the next decade more and more teenage wonderkids will go on free transfers at the end of the initial contracts, despite having price tags that pertain to eight-figure sums. Thanks from the key to Sancho, players and their representatives are holding the clubs which nurtured them to ransom in a younger age than has been seen previously.
Born in Marseille, Lihadji’s dad passed away when he was just nine years old.
His footballing education began with Septemes-les-Vallons, a team that famously had a youthful Zinedine Zidane on their books as he made his way through the ranks to become one of the best midfielders of time.
“He had no team, no staff. At that moment, he had been nothing out of the ordinary, he played exactly the same as others,” Septemes president, Salah Nasri, told Actufoot of the adolescent. “Then, due to our training, he improved and revealed himself. He stood out fairly quickly but at the start, he didn’t have it all. It was afterward that he exploded.”
While there he had been watched closely by Barcelona, who put him through his paces in a training session during his school holidays. He was on the brink of swapping southern France to get Catalunya, only to undergo a fractured shin in November 2013 because he was fouled by an opposition goalkeeper when bearing down on goal.
“We had to make him comprehend that it was just a matter of time and if it were to happen, it would happen. His objective is clear – Isaac would like to play one of the five large European clubs.”
After fit again, Lihadji was snapped up by Marseille at age 14. The 10-time French champions are starved of talent coming from their academy because of the development of the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan, for the best part of a decade, so when reports of Lihadji’s performances at youth level started to come through, excitement obviously constructed.
“I know that I have been eagerly awaited, but you need to be careful not to get ahead of yourself,” Lihadji informed L’Equipe following his initial forays into first-team football. “I will do what’s required to make individuals happy. Villas-Boas gives me a great deal of advice. To be an integral player for OM is my objective.”
From there he flew into Brazil as part of France’s squad for the Under-17 World Cup and played a pivotal role in their conduct to the semi-finals, scoring three goals and supplying two assists as Les Bleuets were pumped out from the hosts on their way to winning the championship.
This type of beginning to the season would leave most with the stage to kick and set themselves over Christmas and in the next half of the effort. Lihadji, though, hasn’t been seen on the pitch.
Upon his return from South America talks started regarding the adolescent’s first senior contract, but it soon became evident that the two parties were some way apart in their discussions.
On November 24, Lihadji was appointed on the bench for Marseille’s excursion to Toulouse but wasn’t called on to play any part, unlike another academy participant Marley Ake – a midfielder who, although talented, isn’t regarded in exactly the same bracket as his fellow child.
“I am waiting for the signature to provide him [Lihadji] some match time and, in Toulouse, I chose Marley to come on for the last minutes,” Villas-Boas told a press conference later that week.
“I could benefit from getting Lihadji at this time, but why? But between Ake, who have here, and Isaac, I’ve made my selection.”
That match at Toulouse was the last time Lihadji was seen in a Marseille shirt and probably will be, with reports in early January asserting that discussions have ended between the player and his team, and as such he is going to be free to depart at the end of the present campaign.
“Our state of mind now is to place the academy completely in the core of our plan and also to make it clear to some 16 or 17-year-old youngster he has an extraordinary opportunity to play and wear the colors of OM,” Marseille president, Jacques-Henri Eyraud, informed RMC in the wake of these reports.
Without these standards, there may be no future at Olympique de Marseille if you’re a young player.” The message could hardly be more clear.
Manchester United, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham and Lille have been credited with interest from the winger, who is most at home on the side but who’s also the expertise of playing centrally. There are even reports indicating that Barca may return in to get a player who they signed over six decades back.
Whichever club does get their hands on Lihadji will have a particular talent in their ranks. But it’s probable that they, too, will be burnt from the’Sancho impact’ before too long. Youngsters such as Lihadji are more excited than ever for their shot at the big time, and there isn’t the same willingness to wait.