VARANE, GRIEZMANN, LAPORTE… BEFORE CHO, THESE FRENCH YOUNGSTERS WHO EXPLODED IN SPAIN

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On Wednesday, Real Sociedad made official the transfer of Mohamed-Ali Cho, 18, snatched from Angers for 12 million euros. Raphaël Varane, Antoine Griezmann, Aymeric Laporte… before Cho, other French players, by choice or for lack of other possibilities, went into exile in Spain to try to develop at the highest level. Here is the list of the most beautiful successes of these last years.

Like Mohamed-Ali Cho, several promising young French players have ventured to Spain to try to make it big. Some left too early, like Jean-Clair Todibo, who returned home to Nice after a stint in Barcelona from the age of 19 to 21.
Others were already notorious stars at the time of their transfer, such as Eduardo Camavinga or Karim Benzema. Finally, in recent years, several have tried to cross the Pyrenees, without being known by the general public, before exploding. Here is the list.

Mohamed Ali Cho has not yet exploded at the highest level, that’s for sure, but it’s worth it to go back quickly on his career. After two seasons in the pro ranks at Angers, at only 18 years old, he has just moved to Real Sociedad. Too early? The Angevin has already the bottle. With a childhood divided between France and England due to the professional career of his parents, he was first spotted by West Ham, played in the academy of PSG and found himself in the training center of Everton before falling into the nets of the SCO.

On the other hand, if he still has some technical baggage to polish to excel in attack, Sociedad may be the perfect place to do so. In addition to being a boy who was immediately very comfortable in the Angevin pro group, he is not the first talented tricolor in San Sebastian. The system has already been tried and tested by others before him (see below), which bodes well for the future.
ANTOINE GRIEZMANN, THE CRACK WITHOUT A FUTURE
“I made many trials in French clubs. But nobody wanted me because I was small”. That’s how Griezmann, then a French U19 international and on the verge of making the pro team with Real Sociedad, summed up the early stages of his career. Grizou’s story is that of a kid in love with soccer who was rejected by several French professional teams (Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Auxerre…).

In 2009, at the age of 14, Real Sociedad, which is not afraid of slightly frail footballers – Barça is starting to make them fashionable players with Iniesta, Xavi, Messi and others – came to get him from UF Macon. It is in the Basque Country that he will be born, grow up, then explode in the eyes of the world in 2013-2014 with a season of 20 goals and five assists. Stats that will send him to Atletico Madrid for an estimated 54M€.
AYMERIC LAPORTE, THE ONE WHO WAS GOING TO BECOME SPANISH
If he is now at Manchester City, it is not with the Citizens that the Franco-Spaniard revealed himself at the highest level. But first, let’s go back a few years. When Athletic Bilbao got hold of the French defender, he was just 15 years old and played for Bayonne. The Agen native quickly acclimatized, learned the language perfectly in a few years and, one season after his arrival in the capital of Bizkaia, he was offered a three-year contract.

I want to take the opportunity to play my first game in La Liga, with the pros. It’s possible” he said at 17 years old. A confidence well placed since the progression was linear. In parallel to his blossoming in Bilbao, he knows the international selections U17, U18, U19 and then Espoirs. And will feel so well in Spain, where he felt not to be appreciated at its true value in France, that he will finally choose the Spanish selection in the senior team. If his situation at City was fluctuating, he found this season a starting place in the eleven of Guardiola and won the confidence of Luis Enrique in selection. Nice course.

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