Adam Ounas: Star Taking the Bore out of Bordeaux
In an otherwise putrid and boring season for Girondins de Bordeaux fans, Algerian youngster Adam Ounas has proven to be a glimmer of hope, a bright little fix to save les Girondins fans from falling asleep at the new Stade Matmut Atlantique.
Early in December, playing against EA Guingamp, Bordeaux were limping towards another turgid performance in Ligue 1. As the referee signalled the end of the first half the home fans let their displeasure be known, booing the players off the pitch. Willy Sagnol was looking for someone or something to bring the game into life; surprisingly that came in the form of 18-year-old Adam Ounas, making just his second start for the club.
Just after the restart, the momentum swung in the home side’s favour, with Ounas shouldering the responsibility. The diminutive winger starting taking over, demanding the ball in his own subtle way and his teammates began looking for him to make the difference – no mean feat for a player which such limited first team experience, particularly with the added pressure of the fans on the team’s back.
He would ultimately have to come off injured in the 77th minute, but his impact had been felt. According to WhoScored, Ounas finished the game with three shots and two key passes, he was successful in five dribble attempts and completed four crosses. He was, quite simply, the best player on the pitch.
It is wasn’t for striker Cheick Diabate missing a close range header the youngster would have had his first assist. But Sagnol was delighted with the 1-0 victory – and the performance from his young star.
“Adam had an excellent start in the games when he came on as a sub,” Sagnol told the press before the Europa League game against Rubin Kazan. “Then he went off the boil for a couple of weeks. I think he needed a bit of time to come to terms with that rapid change of status. Against Guingamp, he showed that he’s capable of challenging for a place in the starting line-up, as long as he keeps working as hard as he has been in training.”
Coming off the bench to score goals against Lorient and Troyes (the latter a match-winning goal) caught everyone’s attention, but it was his Man of the Match performance against Monaco in the Coupe de la Ligue that really started to turn heads. Helping FCGB beat Leonardo Jardim’s side 3-0, Ounas was comfortably the best player on the pitch.
Although it is still early days for the teenager – just 788 minutes in all competitions – he has shown everything you would want in a winger: quick feet and acceleration, silky touch, great close control and drive with the ball at his feet – bringing comparisons to Lionel Messi and Riyad Mahrez. He has also shown competence on his left foot, although he may need to bulk up to gain some more power in his slender legs.
The physical side to the game may be his biggest weakness at the moment, he is still very thin and frail and as a result can get knocked of the ball rather easily by more physical full-backs. Though he’ll never be Yaya Touré strong, this area of concern should obviously improve over time, working with strengthening coaches and spending time in the weight-room.
One of the exciting things about Ounas is that while he has the capability to dribble past players and beat them with pace, trickery and his low centre of gravity, he is constantly looking for the best option, showing great awareness of where his teammates are and the ability to deliver a pass – but that when taking on opponents, or when he drops deeper into the midfield. Too often, wingers in his mould – and there’s been a few in France – have the mindset that it’s a one-man show and they’re the star; he doesn’t appear to have that problem.
It’s pretty clear Bordeaux have a very good player on their hands. There is obvious potential and he is the sort of player who convinces you to turn up and watch for that special moment. It will be interesting to follow his progress and see how many minutes Willy Sagnol hands him before the end of this season.
This article was written by @HeyItsFootball