After being linked with a move to Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United there is no doubt the boy has talent, but just who exactly is Caen’s centre forward M’Baye Niang?
1. Niang’s imposing physical presence was apparent from a young age. In fact originally the scouts at Caen thought he was a presu, a player who pretends to be younger than he is, at 13 years old and 5ft 9inches in height it was understandable. Now at 17 and still growing he is 6ft tall and muscular in stature.
2. Caen beat off opposition from Saint Etienne, Paris Saint-Germain and Lille for the striker when he signed for the clubs youth academy in 2007. He excelled up the youth ranks playing far above his age group until eventually forcing his way into the Caen first team at the tender age of 17. It was at this point the first interest from abroad was reported with Juventus and Tottenham apparently enquiring.
3. Niang signed his first pro contract with Caen in February 2011 and was given the number 9 shirt in the squad and became Caen’s youngest ever player. When he scored his first goal against Lens he became Ligue 1’s second youngest ever goalscorer behind former French international Laurent Roussey.
4. Niang has come through a youth system which has developed many stars of the game including former Man City defender David Sommeil, ex-Rangers man Jerome Rothen, current PSG utility man Mathieu Bodmer and former Arsenal and current Spurs defender William Gallas.
5. Despite representing France at youth levels; including the Under-21s with 2 caps scoring 1 goal, Niang has not ruled out one day playing for the country of his parents, Senegal. He has been called up to the Senegalese national team but rejected the offer stating he preferred to play at youth level for France at this moment in time but he may still consider playing for the West African side one day.
Last season, Niang didn’t perform as impressively as his breakout year but still caught the eye in solid performances in the red and blue of Caen. At 17 years old and a reported contract wrangle over the legality of his professional deal with Caen he is one of the hottest prospects in Europe.
Check out this video of M’Baye Niang, who could be a Premier League player in the very near future.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald