Le50 2016: Fabien Centonze – Evian TG
few are as versatile as Évian Thonon-Gaillard’s star youth product Fabien Centonze. In a season in which the club has struggled to adapt to another spell in Ligue 2 after last season’s relegation, the 19-year-old utility man’s development has been a much needed source of pride for les Roses’ supporters and directors. The Voiron-born youngster has made an impressive 31 appearances for the club’s first-team this season since making the step up from the reserves. However, what is more notable is the fact that he has played in no fewer than five positions, making him an extremely useful player for head coach Romain Revelli to have in his side.
Cetonze started the season under former coach Safet Susic as an attacking midfielder on the right-hand side of the park. He did this to great effect, scoring with a very tidy finish in an away match against AC Ajaccio to equalise in the match’s dying seconds. Just two weeks later, he once again demonstrated his attacking prowess when he scored with a similarly effective strike, this time on his right foot, against Clermont in the second round of the Coupe de la Ligue.
Susic often switched Centonze’s postion, sometimes opting to use him on the left. He was also used as a central midfielder and on some occasions he was asked to sit further back as a defensive midfielder. It was this inconsistency in decision-making that would lead to the coach’s eventual downfall, but it also helped to reveal the versatility that Centonze possesses.
In September 2015, Centonze was awarded a first professional contract deal, which tied him to the club until 2019. It was a well-deserved extension, and one which came as a direct result of his impressive performances in what appears to be his most comfortable position, at left-back. Promising left-backs are few and far between, but Centonze appears to be an even rarer and perhaps more desirable player in this regard.
Criticism is often fairly levelled at young left-backs who appear to be one-footed. Centonze on the other hand is almost completely ambidextrous, and his ability on his right-foot has enabled him to play at right-back as well. He is a tough tackler, whose pace and height at 1m82 enables him to be a very competent full-back. The ability he possess to dribble, cross and shoot, which he has often displayed when playing in attacking midfield roles, allows him to fulfil the overlapping wing-back role to great effect and this is an very desirable trait in a modern defender.
Centonze is without a shadow of a doubt one of French football’s most unique players. His versatility has helped to develop a promising reputation, which he has often lived up to. However, if he wants to make it to the highest level, he perhaps needs to avoid the temptation of becoming a ‘jack of all trades’ by making the left-back slot at Evian his own. He possesses the necessary attributes to become one of the best left-backs in France for his age category. With time and experience, he should be able to achieve that status.