Ligue 1

PSG impressed by "new Pogba" Lucas Gourna-Douath

Saint-Étienne held PSG to a draw in Mauricio Pochettino's first game but the visiting boss was said to be impressed by 17-year-old Lucas Gourna-Douath.

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PSG impressed by "new Pogba" Lucas Gourna-Douath

Saint-Étienne’s academy in recent years has become a production line of eye-catching players. The Ligue 1 side have cashed in to the tune of €60m over the last 18 months for the sales of William Saliba and Wesley Fofana, two central defenders who emerged from the Saint-Étienne youth ranks to move to Arsenal and Leicester City respectively.

On Wednesday, PSG’s trip to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard was scripted as Mauricio Pochettino’s night, the former Spurs boss overseeing his first game in charge of the Ligue 1 champions after returning to the club where he served as a player. But the evening belonged instead to 17-year-old Les Verts midfielder Lucas Gourna-Douath, who neutralized Marco Verratti and put in a tireless performance in the Saint-Étienne engine room with several recoveries, playing a key role in the eventual 1-1 draw.

The youngster’s performance did not go unnoticed by PSG or the French media, who have inevitably drawn comparisons to Paul Pogba. Gourna-Douath, though, is not as technically gifted as the Manchester United midfielder and is not a ball-playing holding midfielder but rather an all-action defensive screen who can operate deep or in central midfield with an impressive work rate and an innate gift for recovering the ball. It was his work in this area that laid the platform for Les Verts to claim a point after scoring early and holding PSG at bay for 70 minutes following Moise Kean’s equaliser.

Puel perfect coach to oversee Gourna-Douath's development

Gourna-Douath has chalked up 14 Ligue 1 appearances this season after making his professional debut last September. He has become a key part of Claude Puel’s system, the coach who handed debuts to Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet at Monaco, Eden Hazard at Lille and Alexandre Lacazette at Lyon continuing to place his trust in academy prospects at Saint-Étienne.

Les Verts are well off the pace in Ligue 1 but appear to have uncovered a gem who is likely to make his name this season and equally probable to attract the interest of some of the division’s big-spenders by the time the summer transfer window comes around after impressing Pochettino and his staff on Wednesday.