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Sam McKeever writes a detailed scout report about Presnel Kimpembe, the PSG and France centre back.
France has been a breeding ground for some of the most exciting talent that is playing their trade across Europe. France has been producing some exciting attackers, and some great defensive talent as well, some of whom have gone under the radar especially the ones applying their trade in Ligue 1 with the likes of Mouctar Diakhaby, Malang Sarr and Issa Diop make an impression.
The three names that I have just mentioned are all under the age of 23 which bodes well for the future of the French national side as they can be leading defenders for Didier Deschamps’ side in years to come in an already competitive pool of players to pick from.
Another player that has also impressed in his breakthrough season is Presnel Kimpembe from Paris-Saint Germain. Signing for the Parisian Club at the age of 8, Kimpembe has risen through the ranks and the defender has added much needed young blood into the squad with midfielder Adrian Rabiot and has the potential to be one of the leading defenders in Europe and can be just as good as the any upcoming young French defender who is under the age of 23.
Presnel Kimpembe was born on the 13th of August 1995 in Beaumont-sur-Oise in France. He played for his local side AS Eragny until the age of eight when he signed for Paris Saint-Germain’s youth academy.
Kimpembe has always been at the Parisian club during his professional career. Promoted from the B team in the year 2014 he only made a solitary ten appearances over the course of his first two seasons with the first team. Playing only a bit-part role in the club’s two league victories in 13-14 and 14-15 seasons, winning the league ahead of 2nd place Monaco and Lyon.
This season has been the breakout one for Kimpembe as he has made 21 appearances in all competitions with him coming to even bigger recognition when he made his Champions League debut, impressing in the 4-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their last 16 tie.
A call up to the French side happened a few months earlier when he was summoned as a replacement for the World Cup Qualifiers against Bulgaria and The Netherlands in October 2016.
Kimpembe is a ball playing defender with the ability to bring the ball out into midfield and give the short pass to his wingers or the central midfielders to start off attacks. He can also start attacks from the deeper areas of the pitch by being able to pick out his teammates with pinpoint accuracy.
In possession of the ball, he is quite composed in tight situations, never panicking, being able to pick out passes between the lines of the opposition. He also has good marking ability being able to get close to attackers and limiting them with very little space to run into or to create chances for their teammates.
At 6’0 Kimpembe physical attributes are vital to survive in the modern game. Not the tallest of defenders, or the most imposing, but he has great strength and also has great acceleration to make up for his small stature. He’s not a defender that strikers should take lightly with the kind of attributes that he has.
His levels of anticipation are good with his timing of the tackle very good. He is rarely found giving cheap fouls away. He is also good with his 1v1 defending being able to use his speed and physical stature to make a tackle. He’s shown that even at a young age he is a fantastic reader of the game.
His positional sense is often quite good, especially when he’s marking a player closely and following him around, not giving him a second to settle on the ball. He’s also very effective when he needs to come out wide and help out his full-back in stopping the winger from getting past him. His recovery speed has been proven to be second to none, showing on numerous occasions this season that he can cover gaps in the defence if he has to. He has shown also against the much quicker players in the league that he can keep up with them and won’t really get beaten for pace very easily.
His composure on the ball is second to none with him being able to pick out passes from short or long range. He has a 94% pass percentage averaging 71 passes per game. His long pass percentage of just over 73% shows us that he has fantastic vision and that he has the eye for a pass, starting counter attacks from deep inside his own defensive third.
He is quite a one footed player and doesn’t have much confidence in his weaker right foot. You might only see him play one or two passes a game at the very most with his right foot. Even though he wins the majority of his aerial duels (58% of them this season) one feels that his ability to head the ball some distance needs improving as he does not seem to be able to get the enough distance on the header. His height might just be the problem, and the timing of his jump might need to be improved to get up early enough to head the ball on the centre of the forehead to get the most distance from it. His current heading ability is quite weak and it can put the ball in a dangerous area for opposition players to run at the defence creating problems for them.
Presnel Kimpembe has all the attributes to be a top defender in the modern game to work on his weaknesses over the coming years and also mature as a player. With a cap for the French national team already to his name, especially with the sheer depth and quality France have at central defence, there is no doubt that he can become a top defender for Paris-Saint Germain and France for years to come if he applies himself right and given the regular game time that he has been receiving so far this season, that is a very distinct and real possibility.
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