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The French Connection: Samuel Kalu – The Nigerian nomad at home in Ligue 1 – football news

It has already proven to be a big season for 21-year-old Bordeaux winger Samuel Kalu, who has earned himself regular minutes at the Ligue 1 club while carving out a place in the Nigeria national side.

He was handed his international debut against the Seychelles at the beginning of September, in which he grabbed an assist, and now promises more. 

With an African Nations Cup qualifying double-header against Libya looming, Gernot Rohr has rewarded the youngster for his promising start to the season in Ligue 1 with what is becoming a regular berth in a the squad looking to rebuild after the World Cup.

For Kalu, his debut represents a highlight of a career that has already taken him far and wide. His journey into the professional game started at the Golden Boot Academy, before taking him to France via short spells in Slovakia with Trencin and in Belgium with Gent.

Samuel Kalu Gent 17042017

“I adapt wherever I go,” Kalu has previously admitted – and his success to date suggests that is indeed the case. 

By the time Bordeaux swooped for him in the summer for a reported fee of €8 million, he had made fewer than 50 top-flight appearances with Gent but had impressed sufficiently in order for the Ligue 1 side to line him up as a replacement for the talismanic Malcom, who moved to Barcelona in the summer after exploding in France.

“I’m happy that he’s signed for Bordeaux,” Rohr, who turned out for the French club during his playing career in the 1980s, said in August. “I think he’ll give them penetration on the flanks because he likes to play in space. Against teams who like to defend deep, players like Kalu can help find solutions.”

His statistics in the 2017-18 season were formidable, having netted six goals and offered a further seven assists in only 24 league outings.

“He has an interesting profile, with speed and technical qualities,” Bordeaux president Stephane Martin told the press, indicating the chief reasons why the player he had been signed.

Samuel Kalu

The hope from both the club and the player is that he can replicate the spectacular success that Malcom enjoyed over the duration of a deal at Stade Matmut-Atlantique that will last five years.

“Ligue 1 is another step,” the player, given the No.10 shirt, admitted when he signed with the club.

He arrived on August 6 as Bordeaux’s first signing of the summer and in seven subsequent Ligue 1 appearances has mustered one goal and one assist. 

Despite relatively modest numbers, club coach Eric Bedouet has praised the importance of a player Nigeria hope can become a replacement for Victor Moses, who announced his international retirement a matter of weeks ago.

“For a centre forward, wingers like Kalu and Francois Kamano are precious,” Bedouet said. “Kalu’s crossing is very, very good. They both possess great physical qualities and have a little of the same style: they’re very quick, direct, powerful and physically-strong. 

“Look at the build of Kalu – he’s capable of stopping with the ball then accelerating again, making the difference in a game all in one action.”

French Connection kalu GFX

The pair have often worked in conjunction this season and have been one of Bordeaux’s major strengths as they have powered into the top half of the standings. 

Kamano, 22 and now into his fifth season as a professional, has hogged the headlines after netting seven times already, but Bedouet, who takes matchday responsibilities for the club, is well aware of the value of the duo’s powers.

“Both of them together, it’s quite annoying for opponents,” Bedouet added last week. “They have to continue these performances for the duration.”

Indeed, Bordeaux have leaned heavily on the pair and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead as domestic and Europa League commitments mount.

For Kalu, it has been a whirlwind beginning to the season, but for a young man fast tracked through Slovakian and Belgium football, it is a feeling that is not unfamiliar. Progress in his career has been unrelenting, and despite a left-field route to Bordeaux, he will expect it to continue all the way to the top.

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Francois Kamano steers Bordeaux past Guingamp – football news

Francois Kamano scored in Bordeaux’s 3-1 victory over Guingamp in Sunday’s French Ligue 1 outing at Stade du Roudourou.

The 22-year-old notched his fourth goal of the season to help Ricardo Gomes’ men return to winning ways after a defeat against Rennes, draw with Nimes and a loss in their opening Uefa Europa League game against Slavia Praha.

The youngster found the back of the net in the 53rd minute after benefiting from Younousse Sankhare’s assist.

However, Marcus Thuram levelled proceedings for the home team in the 70th minute from the penalty spot before Yann Karamoh restored the lead to the Girondins ten minutes later after he was introduced for Nigeria international Samuel Kalu.

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Nicolas De Preville then sealed the victory at the death off Jules Kounde’s assist shortly after replacing Kamano.

With the win, Bordeaux are 13th in the league standings with seven points from six games.

They trade tackles with Lille in their next league outing at Stade Matmut-Atlantique on Wednesday.

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Valiant Bobichon gives Neymar’s PSG a scare – The Ligue 1 Performance Index – football news

Four weeks into the Ligue 1 season, and there is a familiar face at the top of the table. Paris Saint-Germain are leading the way with a perfect 12 points, with a thrilling 4-2 win over Nimes on Saturday maintaining Thomas Tuchel’s 100 per cent record in charge of the capital side.

But in that spectacular match, it was a Nimes player who came out, not only on top of the Opta ranking for that encounter, but for Ligue 1 as a whole. 

Antonin Bobichon was introduced at half-time with his side trailing 2-0 and inspired a thrilling comeback thanks to a superb goal. On the edge of the box, he planted a shot into the top corner of Alphonse Areola’s net; it was a goal from nowhere.

Ligue 1 Performance Index 2018 MD4

This was the catalyst to Nimes rallying to 2-2 – and with a little more luck they might even have taken the lead as Sofiane Alakouch hit the bar.

At the other end of the park, though, PSG’s attacking players hit the headlines, with three of them pushing into the top 10 of this week’s ranking.

Neymar got the opening goal with a sliding finish and was ranked 10th this week with a score of 86.8, while Angel Di Maria was once again in slick form, scoring direct from a corner to help him to a rating of 87.6.

Mbappe was the star of the show for the capital side once again, however. He might have been sent off in the closing stages of the match, but his overall display was eye-catching as he grabbed what proved to be the winning goal in what was another impressive show of strength by the teenager. The strike – his fourth of the season – saw him show feathery control but a fierce finish.

His score of 90.8 was not enough to break into the top three, however. 

Remarkably, there were two players tied for second this week, with Guingamp’s Nicolas Benezet marginally edging out Nantes midfielder Lucas Evangelista, whose fizzing strike at the weekend helped his side to a 3-2 victory over Strasbourg.

Benezet did not have such luck. He might have set up a goal for Marcus Thuram, who finished sixth on our list, but his side remain pointless after a month of play – and that despite playing opponents who played an hour with 10 men. 

Antonin Bobichon Neymar Nimes PSG 01092018

Also breaking the top 10 this week was Rennes midfielder Clement Grenier, who delivered an assist in the early stage of his side’s win over Bordeaux. His delivery from a corner was brilliantly attacked by Benjamin Andre to open the scoring, and thereafter he set the tone of the 2-0 victory. 

Two other goalscoring substitutes also make an appearance. Claudio Beauvue is back in Ligue 1 with Caen, and he marked his return with a cool late finish to help the Normandy side to a 2-0 win over previously perfect Dijon. 

His introduction might have been dramatic, but not as much so as that of Valere Germain, whose late near-post header helped Marseille to a 3-2 win over Monaco. He was only on the field a matter of seconds before getting what proved to be the decisive goal against his former team. 

Ligue 1, therefore, goes into its first international break with no shortage of drama already. Below PSG, there has been tremendous unpredictability, and already a sense that anything could unfold over these next nine months.

L1 Performance Index MD4

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