Ekitike, Cho and the 10 Ligue 1 players to explode in the last six months

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner Updated: 9 Feb 2022 15:46 GMT 3 min read
Reims striker Hugo Ekitike is linked with Newcastle and Liverpool

Ligue 1 continues to live up to its reputation as being a breeding ground for some of the biggest talents in world football.

Kylian Mbappe, of course, exploded for Monaco and then Paris Saint-Germain to become one of the elite players in the game, and now there are a clutch of stars following in his footsteps.

Indeed, of the ten players in France’s top flight to have made the greatest progress this season, there are eight teenagers and not a single player over the age of 21.

Often, these stars are operating at clubs fighting for European positions in Ligue 1.

Which Ligue 1 players have improved the most?

Centre-back Warmed Omari has made the greatest leap in his game this season, according to sports analytics specialists SciSports.

The Rennes centre-back was an unknown when he debuted for the club in August, but he has since gone on to establish himself not only as a starter with Rennes, but a player who some of Europe’s biggest clubs are keeping an eye on.

Warmed Omari

Warmed Omari

Indeed, it is defensive players that dominate the upper part of the ranking in France. Lyon full-back Malo Gusto has been a player touted for big things since his academy days, and the 18-year-old’s smooth progress into the first team has been underlined by his dramatic improvement in the eyes of SciSports, who attribute a value to players on the basis of their statistical performance over time.

Club-mate Castello Lukeba, a centre-back, also scores well from Lyon.

Completing the top five are breakout players Maxime Esteve and Quentin Merlin on Montpellier and Nantes respectively. Both began the season as backup players but are firmly in the first-team picture, albeit Esteve has had injury issues lately.

Ligue 1's most improved players

PlayerClubSciSkill Development
Warmed OmariRennes29.0
Malo GustoLyon28.6
Maxime EsteveMontpellier21.1
Castello LukebaLyon19.6
Quentin MerlinNantes19.4
Mohamed-Ali ChoAngers19.2
Timothee PembeleBordeaux18.9
Bamba DiengMarseille18.5
Hugo EkitikeReims17.7
Elye WahiMontpellier16.3

In terms of attacking players, former England U16 international Mohamed-Ali Cho has been the most positive mover, with the 18-year-old also possessing the highest potential of any of these players, according to SciSports’ calculations.

Bamba Dieng, who was in the Senegal squad to win the Africa Cup of Nations and turns out for Marseille, Reims’ forward Hugo Ekitike, who was the subject of a big-money approach from Newcastle in January, and promising Montpellier attack Elye Wahi round out the ranking.