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How Eduardo Camavinga became the most sought-after teenager in Europe

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Rennes’ midfield mainstay Eduardo Camavinga isn’t just your average teenage prodigy. Having enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with the Ligue 1 outfit Rennes this season, the 17-year-old has all of Europe on high-alert with a series of sensational displays. 

Liverpool, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain are all monitoring the teenager, along with Real Madrid, who according to reports in Spain, are the favourites to sign Camavinga in the summer transfer window.

Who is Eduardo Camavinga?

Born in Angola in 2002, Camavinga moved to France and joined up with the Academy of Rennes in 2013, after having spent a few years at Drapeau-Fougères. The midfielder rose rapidly through the ranks and had been playing for the club’s U19 side by 2018 and had gone on to break into the reserves’ team by January 2019.

Having seen his rapid rise through the youth teams, Rennes manager Julien Stephan handed Camavinga his first-team debut in April last year at the age of 16 years and four months. And there has been just no looking back for the midfielder from that moment on. 

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While he may have made his debut towards the end of the last season, the 2019/20 campaign is the one during which Camavinga has truly announced himself as a force to be reckoned with at such a young age. 

The 17-year-old has featured in all but three of Rennes’ Ligue 1 matches this season, starting 24 of those. Despite playing as a holding midfielder, Camavinga has been able to contribute with one goal and two assists in his first full season with the senior team. 

The midfielder isn’t making a name for himself because of his goal contributions, but for the way he has dominated midfield battles over the course of the campaign. 

Why are top clubs lining up to sign him?

Just in the second league game of the season, going up against mighty champions PSG, Camavinga put in one of his finest performances till date, as he stamped his authority going up against a midfield comprising of world-class operators in Marco Verratti, Julian Draxler and Marquinhos. The youngster was named the Man of the Match as Rennes ran out 2-1 victors against the reigning champs.

Playing in front of the defence, the 17-year-old has shown maturity and discipline that belies his age. A tough-tackling, ball-winning midfielder, Camavinga combines it with solid distribution and ability to retain possession under pressure from the opposition.

Given his exhilarating performances over the course of the season, it is no surprise that Camavinga averages 4.3 tackles per game this season, which is the most by any player in Europe’s top five leagues. The 17-year-old's 105 tackles in the Ligue 1 are the most by anyone in the competition, while his tally of 142 tackles and interceptions combined is the fifth-best in the top five European leagues. The teenager also boasts a pass success rate of 87.6%.

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The defensive midfield role is by far one of the most difficult positions to play in. A small misstep, a tiny miscalculation can prove to be fatal for the team. Camavinga, deployed in this role, in his first full-season has displayed great maturity, tactical intelligence and composure beyond his years.

The fact that Rennes are third in the Ligue 1 table and boast the joint second-best defensive record in the league is partly down to Camavinga’s stellar performances.

What do his coaches say?

Nicolas Martinais, who coached Camavinga during his time at Drapeau-Fougères had said the following about his protégé in an interview with Bleacher Report last year.

“The ease and the maturity he shows on the pitch are incredible. He's on the ball a lot, he rarely gives it away and he's very mature. That's what knocks you out. For his age, it's really amazing.”

Landry Chauvin, who worked with Camavinga at the Rennes’ academy since 2015, has also been lavish in his praises of the 17-year-old in the past, claiming that the midfielder is better than what World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi was at his age.

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“I knew Blaise Matuidi when he was at Troyes at the same age. For me, Eduardo is more advanced than he was.”

“He definitely has the skills to play for Real Madrid. If he keeps developing this way he has the potential and the skills to be a key player on a top club someday.” These words came from Camavinga’s manager Julien Stephan.

The Future

Given the amount of interest Camavinga has been drawing, there is a strong chance that he would end up leaving Rennes this summer. The 17-year-old is likely to cost around £43 million according to reports and it will be interesting to see where he ends up next season.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Jean-Francois Monier

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