Le50 2016: Lys Mousset – Le Havre AC
Sometimes players start seasons as they mean to go on, and that’s exactly how Lys Mousset began this Ligue 2 campaign as Le Havre visited Bourg-en-Bresse. The latest product off from the Normand club’s famous youth system took just one touch after coming off the bench before rifling home a blistering 40-yard strike high past Sébastien Callamand.
Some questioned whether it would be a flash in the pan moment from the then-19-year-old or a demonstration of his confidence and technical ability. After 26 appearances in Ligue 2, Mousset has racked up two assists and 13 goals, showing that this young winger turned centre-forward is no one-hit wonder.
Mousset’s promising development as a player is a direct result of the strength of Le Havre’s youth set-up. Having joined the club as a ten-year-old, the local boy who hails from Montivilliers, spent around a decade in the same system that in the past, has harnessed the talents of international players such as Dimitri Payet, Steve Mandanda and Riyad Mahrez.
What Mousset has gained from this experience is clear – he has an evident sense of tactical and positional awareness that enables him to aid his side’s overall team game, and like most players who emerge from the club’s academy, his technical ability on the ball is vastly superior to most other players of his age in Ligue 2. The educational grounding he has received as a result of having spent his formative years as a footballer at Le Havre undoubtedly appear to have served him well.
Keen observers will note that Mousset’s performances really began to improve after the arrival of Bob Bradley at the club. Until the American took charge, the France U20 youth international was used sparingly as both a winger and an occasional centre-forward by the interim head coach Christophe Revault. However, the former USMNT manager has helped Mousset to live up to the number 9 he wears on the back of his shirt, as he has begun to flourish as one of the league’s standout players of the season.
Mousset has all the attributes needed to become the complete modern-day centre-forward. He is intelligent, making the most of his innate sense of positional awareness to make dangerous and efficient runs either in front of or behind centre-backs, and those marking him are often dragged across the width of the pitch by his intricate movement, which helps him to create space for the rest of his team.
Mousset has also clearly developed physically throughout the season, and credit has to go the club’s strength and conditioning coaches in this regard. At 6ft, Mousset is blessed with natural height, however his muscular increase since the start of the season, most notably in his legs and across his shoulders is impressive. He is now a player who carries an intimidating physical presence and this combined with his blistering turn of pace will enable him to become the type of forward that nobody will want to mark.
As coaches often point out, sometimes the impressive physical strengths of promising young players are coupled with a frustrating lack of technical ability. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth with Mousset. The 20-year-old is a classy striker, whose calmness and composure in front of onrushing goalkeepers has impressed all season. He has a clinical efficiency in front of goal that always impresses, and his ability to take players on with his close control and dribbling strengths will aid him to excel even at the highest of levels.
Sofiane Boufal caught the imagination of Ligue 2 fans last season, before earning a move to Lille in January 2015. Mousset is undoubtedly the standout attacking talent of this campaign and he has continued to perform week-in, week-out.
Whether or not the north-west-coast club gain promotion or not, they too will struggle to keep such an exciting young player from making a move this summer.