Le50 2016: Jordan Siebatcheu – Stade de Reims
It wasn’t quite Jordan Siebatcheu’s Ligue 1 debut, but it was on the opening day of the new season that the teenager, named after basketball’s greatest ever player, announced his arrival in French football.
Stade de Reims found themselves 1-0 down to Bordeaux at the new Matmut Atlantique stadium. Olivier Guégan made his move, bringing on youngsters Grejohn Kyei and Jordan Siebatcheu in the latter stages of the game.
Nicolas De Preville equalled the game with 10 minutes to go and Reims went looking for a winner. A long searching punt upfield from Kossi Agassa was headed towards goal by Kyei, more in hope than direction. Siebatcheu was alert to the flick and burst past centre-back Cedric Yambéré before nicking a touch on the ball and slipping it past Cedric Carrasso for the 2-1 victory.
One may not remember his 24-minute cameo at the Stade Municipal against Toulouse last season, but not many Reims fans will ever forget his second game.
Despite his excellent start, with three goals and one assist in the opening six weeks, Siebatcheu was still to start a game for the Champagne club. That came in a goalless draw away against Angers – a game to forget for everyone involved. That helped the hype die down, showing that although he is undoubtedly talented, the forward would need careful monitoring if he is to fully fulfil his potential.
Born in Washington D.C, his family moved to France when he was very young, meaning that he is still able to play internationally for the USA, Cameroon and France. He joined the Stade de Reims youth ranks when he was seven and thus began his footballing journey.
Playing beside Kyei, Siebatcheu was in the Reims team that lost 2-0 to AJ Auxerre in the final of the 2014 Coupe Gambardella at the Stade de France. They would bounce back successfully, winning the under-19 league title the following year.
Formerly a part of the Reims youth set-up, when Guégan was named as the new senior first-team coach, he quickly used that knowledge to bring both Kyei and Siebatcheu into the team. “I already knew him from my time with the youth team,” recalled the former Reims midfielder. “I decided I wanted him to play with us in pre-season to see how he’d cope… and he did more than just cope.”
“He’s a young player who has some weaknesses – and a lot of strengths,” Guégan summed up. “He’ll need to keep a cool head and keep on working, and he’ll be rewarded. He’s one of our top young players.”
After that opening day win, the coach was quick to reaffirm that Siebatcheu is still a work in progress, but hailed his freshness, dynamism and recklessness, all key attributes that make him a great addition to the side.
The 19-year-old has only started five more times since the match at Angers – his last came against Saint-Etienne at the end of January – but he suffered an injury to his left thigh, which would keep him out for all of February.
In hindsight, it could be construed as a good thing. He is still just a teenager, and with Reims needing goals and experience going into a relegation battle, the pressure of performing at the Stade Auguste-Delaune on a consistent basis could have been too much, too soon.
Standing over 6 foot 3 inches tall, his long strides make him a difficult prospect to contain. He is quick along the ground, but powerful enough to deal with France’s toughest centre-backs.
Guégan has gone from playing three up front, to two, to a 3-4-3 and it’s perhaps unclear where Jordan’s best position is, giving an idea as to why he has started so few games this season.
This is his first season in Ligue 1 and despite a couple of set-backs and the struggles Reims have endured, there is undoubtedly a great player bursting to come out. Guégan has done a great job of not over-exposing his talented teenager.
With the experience picked up from this campaign and another 12 months under his belt in the Champagne region, it is going to be hard to stop Siebatcheu from popping some corks next season.
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