Two years after beating Paris Saint Germain to the Ligue 1 title, Lille have fallen off the perch. The 2021-22 season, which followed their title-winning one, saw them finish tenth on the league table. In the 2022-23 season, though, the club recovered to an extent finishing fifth on the table. Another positive that the club can look forward to is the emergence of the 17-year-old Leny Yoro, one of the best young centre-backs in the league.
The teenager who played over 700 minutes has been touted as the latest wunderkind to come out of the French football league. And with Lille looking to reaper the heroics of their title-winning season, Yoro is expected to play a significant role this season.
Furthermore, with Lionel Messi gone and Kylian Mbappe’s transfer stance, this is a golden opportunity for the other Ligue 1 clubs to capitalise on any slip-ups that Paris Saint Germain do.
And with the Ligue 1 season set to begin on August 12, be sure to check the latest Football Scores, news, and transfer gossip we bring to you.
So, who is Leny Yoro and how good is he?
Leny Yoro profile
Born on November 13, 2005, in the Parisian commune of Saint-Maurice, Leny Yoro started his footballing journey at the age of six when he joined the local club UJA Alfortville. However, a year later, he left for Villeneuve-d’Ascq.
He would spend the next five years at his new clubs, where his performance would make him a famous name among the youth scouting networks in France. Ultimately, Lille won the race and signed the talented youngster to their ranks.
He would slowly improve for the next four years, rising through the youth teams before he was called up to Lille’s reserve side. His debut for them finally came on February 5, 2022, against AC Amiens.
In the same season, Yoro was also part of Lille’s under-18 side that took part in the UEFA Youth League, playing four games.
Yoro then ended the season in style, making his Ligue 1 debut on May 14, 2022, against Nice. He became the second youngest player ever to play for the club. The performances that he put in were more than enough for the senior hierarchy at the club, who immediately began giving him more minutes in the senior team come the following season. And Yoro grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Style of play
Standing at 1.9 metres tall, Yoro already has the natural traits of becoming a natural centre-back. However, Yoro also has other attributes to further improve as a defender. Stats from the 2022-23 season shows that Yoro had an impressive passing success rate of 91 per cent.
Yoro also had a duel success rate of 62 per cent, a brilliant start for a 17-year-old playing his first season in a league as competitive as Ligue 1. According to fbref, Yoro ranked among the top six percentile of centre-backs in terms of completed carries.
Yoro also made 2.11 interceptions per 90 minutes, ranking him among the top four percentile centre-backs. He also ranks among the top six percentile of centre-backs in the number of passes blocked.
While he has played sporadically, and these stats may take a hit as he plays more regularly, Yoro has shown that he is on the cusp of becoming a great player if given the proper support for the next two to three years.
Leny Yoro potential
Lille finished fifth last season and are now looking to improve to at least get into the Champions League places next season. This means that players like Leny Yoro, who impressed massively in the previous seasons, will be shouldered with more responsibilities.
And for a player like Leny Yoro, regular game time at a top club is of necessity. Yoro has already developed rapidly at such a young age, but now he needs to play constantly at the top level to take his game to the next level.
There is a considerable risk or reward for the club to play him as a regular starter, but given his talent, it is a gamble with a huge chance of succeeding.
His performances have already caught the interests of clubs such as Real Madrid and Liverpool, but none of the two clubs will offer him regular minutes. And Yoro has still not played an entire top-flight season as a regular starter, and staying at Lille for at least a season or two is the most suitable alternative. If he keeps developing simultaneously, then a big move will make more sense.