Le50 2016: Wylan Cyprien – RC Lens
In April, Wylan Cyprien repaid the faith that his current side have shown in him by signing a contract extension which would keep him at RC Lens until 2018. In recent years, the club’s La Gaillette youth system has seen the likes of Geoffrey Kondogbia, Raphael Varane and Serge Aurier pass through its gates before moving on to other clubs. While Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Yassin Fortune both left the club without even playing first-team matches.
Cyprien’s story is a welcome contrast, however. Having progressed through the academy he has become a regular within the heart of the Sang-et-Or midfield.
It is easy to forget just how young Cyprien is. The 21-year-old has so far amassed around 100 first-team matches for Lens in both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, and the maturity he oozes in the central midfield role has reportedly won him admirers in Serie A. As his coach Antoine Kombouaré explains, he has become a ‘cornerstone of the team’ whose performances are ‘beyond his years’. Cyprien has been an omnipresent figure within the midfield this season, making 29 appearances in France’s second-tier, and his commitment is never doubt. What strikes you about the Guadeloupe-born youngster is that, in this age of holding-midfielders and No10 playmakers, Cyprien is the type of incessant, energetic box-to-box central player whose effort has won his side matches.
Yet there is more to Cyprien than just sheer fitness and effort. The France U21 international is a keen passer, he is always aware of where his teammates are, and this translates into his innate ability to play quick short passes to those in the vicinity, in addition to his ability to switch play effectively with intelligently-crafted lobs across the midfield to the wing areas. The RCL number 23 is also a tall midfielder, standing at 1m81, and this gives him a certain kind of elegance in terms of his movement in the midfield zone, in or out of possession. He also uses this height and his physical power to help break down opposition moves and launch counter-attacks with well-timed tackles.
One of the most fundamental elements to look for when tracking promising players is their ability to evolve and improve their skillset. Teamwork is an important part of the art central midfield play, but so too is ingenuity. This season, Cyprien has developed a clinical ability to find the net of his own accord that has become a clear sign of his increasing development in this regard. His ability to find the net with long-range efforts has always been in his toolbox – one thinks back to the impressive screamer he scored against Reims last season – but this year goal-scoring has become a more regular part of his game. He has scored five goals this season alone – that’s two more successful strikes than his combined tally of three goals in his past three season of first-team football.
Cyprien’s decision to commit his immediate future to RC Lens was probably made in light of the fact that his career at the club continues to be developing at a very promising rate. He has developed from an exciting young prospect to one of the first-team’s stars. However, it would not be a surprise if clubs in Ligue 1 and further afield attempted to lure the 21-one-year-old away from the club that values him so highly. Much will depend on Lens’ ability to bring top-flight football to the Stade Felix Bollaert-Delelis