In football today, few players are as highly sought-after as Rennes’ all-action midfielder, Eduardo Camavinga. The 18-year-old is undoubtedly one of the most in-demand players in Europe at the time of writing, with a whole host of clubs reportedly battling for his signature. The youngster joined Les Rouge et Noir in 2013 having spent several years of his youth career with Drapeau-Fougeres. Since then, his on-field displays have seen him develop a potentially world-class reputation. So, let’s take a look at what makes the 18-year-old such a special player.
Over the last few decades, top-flight football has changed significantly. From both a fitness and a systematic standpoint, there can be no doubt that the outlook of the sport has progressed. As such, the skills required to be a top-level midfielder now differ, particularly for those operating from deep. At present, being press resistant is a necessity for any midfield maestro, and Camavinga ticks that box.
Crucially, the Frenchman can control proceedings, even in matches where opposition players are intent on pressing. It’s a testament to his ability to dictate the tempo of a game that his A90 (assists per 90 minutes) statistics throughout the 2019-20 season were better than Liverpool’s new signing, Thiago Alcantara. While his on-the-ball composure and understanding of his surroundings make him a promising prospect, he’s also capable of scoring the odd goal. In October 2020, Camavinga became France’s youngest goalscorer after finding the net with a bicycle kick in a 7-1 win over Ukraine.
Following his rapid rise to footballing stardom, the 18-year-old has reportedly become a target for Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid. Although he's more than capable of operating with the ball, his defensive know-how is another reason why some of Europe’s top clubs are interested in his services. Throughout the 2019-20 season, the Frenchman’s defensive contributions per 90 minutes bettered that of both Thiago and Thomas Partey, according to Squawka’s statistical comparison matrix.
Although Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid were perhaps less likely to be on the defensive, Camavinga averaged 4.5 tackles a match and won 7.8. defensive duels. By comparison, Thiago registered 2.3 tackles and 6.6 successful duals, while Partey recorded 2.5 and 5.6, respectively.
Because of the impression that he’s made, PSG manager Thomas Tuchel labelled the 18-year-old as one of the “best players” in Ligue 1. Moreover, it’s clear to why the Red Devils would be keen signing the Rennes midfielder to partner Paul Pogba in the centre of the field. As of November 13th, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are 12/1 to finish second or better with Premier League betting come the end of the season, and a January swoop for the 18-year-old would undoubtedly strengthen their chances.
When compared to world-class, established players, Camavinga doesn’t look out of place, and at just 18 years of age, that’s somewhat frightening. His talent is there for all see, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he dictates matches at the highest level for the next decade and beyond. Whether that’s at Rennes, however, remains to be seen.