Every time a player under 21 does something remarkably intriguing, he is automatically the 'new' somebody. But, with Franck Kessie, its more than hyperbole.
Out with the old, in with the new, as the old saying goes. And, as Yaya Toure’s Manchester City career meanders to an underwhelming conclusion, it’s only natural that his long term successor for the Ivory Coast could replace him at club level too.
According to the Express, Pep Guardiola sent scouts to Atalanta to watch the prodigious 19-year-old Franck Kessie in action last week. Or, as he’s come to be known, the ‘new Yaya Toure’.
But who is he? And why are some of the biggest club’s in Europe prepared to fight tooth and nail for his signature?
1) The dynamic teenager has already won four caps at international level but it’s his club form that has caught the eye this season. Despite Atalanta pitched precariously close to the foot of the Serie A table, Kessie’s four goals in five appearances makes him the top scoring midfielder in the Italian top flight after six matchdays.
2) Kessie spent last season on loan at Serie B side Cesena, forming a formidable partnership with future Juventus star Stefano Sensi, dubbed the 'new Marco Verratti' (below). Together, they drove the club to the play-offs before taking pride and place in the league’s Team of the Season.
3) At Cesena, Kessie learned from the best. Coach Massimo Drago is renowned for his ability to develop young potential, with Italy internationals Alessandro Florenzi (below) and Federico Bernadeschi earning their stripes under the 45-year-old. Kessie arrived in Serie B as a centre-half. A year later, he is one of the most lethal midfielders in the top flight thanks to Drago’s guiding hand.
4) Kessie captained the Ivory Coast to the quarter finals of the Under-17 World Cup in 2013, scoring in a 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the last eight. He made his full international debut at the age of 17 a year later, playing the whole 90 minutes in a 2-1 win against Sierra Leone.
5) City have competition for his signature. The teenager’s agent told Goal earlier this week that Arsenal have scouted Kessie on numerous occasions but, with the likes of Juventus also reportedly interested, one of the most exciting talents in African football may well have his pick of the superclubs.