It’s hard to become the ‘next Kylian Mbappé’ when you are five months older than the Arsenal transfer target, but that’s exactly how Yann Karamoh has been labelled.
Linked with a move to Southampton, West Ham and Everton, the lightning quick forward is out of contract with Ligue 1 side Caen in 2018 and is unlikely to sign a new deal with the Normandy-based club.
The 18-year-old enjoyed a successful debut campaign in France, scoring five goals and picking up four assist in 25 league starts.
Although played mostly on the right flank, in five starts he showed he can lead the line, bringing the comparisons to the Monaco teenager. Yet, it’s hard to become the next someone, who himself hasn’t finished becoming a player himself.
Exciting young French talent
In fact, although he didn’t have the same amazing impact as Mbappé, Karamoh played 700 more minutes. Caen escaped relegation by just a single point, so without the likes of Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and Radamel Falcao to support him up front, it’s no surprise his numbers don’t match up with the France international.
Caen won’t let that happen and they are keen to sell the youngster for around €10million this summer, rather than letting him move on a free. However, his agent is pushing for the 18-year-old to dig in his heels and move for nothing, increasing what he could demand in terms of wages.
It’s a risky situation and one that will likely lead to a transfer this summer.
Everton, who signed Henry Onyekuru, were linked, both players offer similar qualities, so their interest makes sense, but would unlikely see them continue to push for the player.
Linked With Premier League Move
West Ham were also linked with the Nigerian forward, so Karamoh fits the profile the Hammers were looking for. Then there is Southampton, with Mauricio Pellegrino taking over from Claude Puel, there’s no clear way of knowing how the Argentine will line up with his new side.
As coach of Alavés in Spain, he seemed to favour either 5-4-1 or 4-2-3-1, which would play into the strengths of Karamoh, giving the link some weight.
Instantly, teams will be attracted by the wingers outstanding pace.
Although hard to judge, when you watch the Caen youngster blasting down the right-flank, especially when he left Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy for dead.
Caen won the ball on the right-wing, Karamoh was instantly looking to push forward. He first knocks the ball beyond the €50million-rated, Manchester City transfer target, taking out the defender.
He then has the quick acceleration over a short distance to beat Jemerson to the ball. The Monaco centre-back can’t help but take the winger out, saving what could have been a very dangerous situation.
Karamoh is still very raw and there is an unpredictability to his game. That also comes with a fearlessness, which he showed playing away in Paris. Taking on the former Ligue 1 champions at the Parc des Princes, the youngster had enough confidence to try and take on the defence single-handedly.
Taking the ball through the middle, he was forced left, before cutting back on to his right foot, but for a scuffed shot, he could have scored a very memorable goal.
Able to score with both feet and his head, he has shown glimpses of being able to fulfil that centre-forward role, just as Mbappé has done for Monaco, but it’s out wide where Karamoh is most at ease.
Give him space to run and he will burn past defenders for fun. As he grows he will continue to improve and know when to ease off and when to attack.
However, when you stand off and give him space, he has a very capable right-foot, one which can put crosses on the head of any willing striker.
It helped that Caen called upon Croatian target-man, Ivan Santini, but the likes of Manolo Gabbiadini or Charlie Austin would crave the same sort of service that helped the Ligue 1 forward score 15 goals last season.
Potential that fits Southampton model
At just 18 years old, Karamoh’s numbers show great potential, something that will obviously interest a club like Southampton. Not only could he go on to be a very effective right-winger in England, there is the possibility of selling him on for a much-improved fee once he matures.
Pitting him statistically against some of the best right-wingers in England, he more than holds his own.
Wilfred Zaha leads the way in terms of attempted dribbles, which will shock no one, but the Caen teenager averages five per 90 minutes, which is the same as Raheem Sterling and former Saints man, Sadio Mané.
Playing for a much weaker team, Karamoh still manages more shots with 2.5 and most importantly, he edges all three in terms of attempted crosses.
Key to being a successful wide player in England, is the ability to track back and defend from the front.
Although a keen attacker, the 18-year-old makes 3.1 tackles per 90 and 0.6 interceptions, which is in line with what is required in the Premier League.
It’s promising that he already gives away the ball 5.6 times per 90, just a little more than Sterling and Mané, but less than Zaha.
However, when you attempt more, like the Crystal Palace winger does, then it is expected you will lose it more.
St Mary’s would be a very good fit for a young player who is at the start of an exciting young career.
His move away from Caen is not an example of a bad attitude, just a player with ambition who wants to showcase his talents higher up than at the Stade Michel d’Ornano.
Caen must take some of the blame for not tying down the youngster way before the 2018 end date. Now, with interest increasing, there’s little chance of either side backing down now.
Karamoh is up for grabs, and at €10million he represents superb value for any English team. If Pellegrino does want to play with wingers, it’s a signing that has more upsides than down and could be the steal of the summer down on the south coast.