Le50 2017 – Marcus Coco

Coco EAG

In his second senior season, Marcus Coco has demonstrated a progression, flexibility and creativity that has been wonderful to watch – but with the equally intriguing fact that he clearly has more to give in the future. A tenth-place league finish and going deep in both domestic cups is a good record for Guingamp, but they will hope for better next season, as will Coco.

When he arrived at EAG they had been told he was a defensive midfielder, which seems rather ludicrous now, seeing him zipping about in a variety of attacking positions, but predominantly from the left wing. Fortunately his new coaches twigged this pretty quickly, and after a handful of cameos in 2014/15, he came into his own with 22 starts in the tricky post-Mandanne/Beauvue season, before building up his playing time this term to 35 starts in all competitions.

In a decent attacking system that notched 46 league goals, he scored four, adding three assists, and it is here where there is lots of scope for more. Good in the air, and liking a dribble, he does have the tendency to try things that don’t come off, with eight of his 35 shots – and no goals – being from outside the area. This enthusiasm, while not necessarily efficient, is infectious – and with several players ahead of him in the scoring charts as Guingamp ping them in from a variety of angles, his contribution to the collective has been important.

His goal tally might be modest, but their importance was more marked – an equaliser against Montpellier to draw, a brace to make it 3-1 away at Lyon – and likewise for his assists, helping Yannis Salibur to a first-minute opener in a win over OM, and Jimmy Briand for a late equaliser (again) against Montpellier. Guingamp had the oldest squad in Ligue 1 this season, which suggests a degree of overhaul in the summer – Coco the youngest by a distance in the ‘first XI’ for league minutes, which featured five players over 30. Next season should therefore see an opportunity to kick on again, and establish himself not just as a regular starter, but a key part of the attack.

His hard work has paid off on another front, as he now has six caps for the U21s and has been selected for the June friendlies against Albania and Cameroon. He is yet to score for les Espoirs, so it will be interesting to see what part he can play in those matches as Sylvain Ripoll takes over from Pierre Mankowski in an attempt to mastermind the U21s past a qualifying play-off for the first time in a long time. With some fine players in that list, Coco will have to show what he is made of to make the list again when the next round of Euro qualifying kicks off in September.

Before then, of course, will be the start of the next season, and whether at Guingamp or elsewhere, Coco will need to step it up to become the player one hopes he can become, rather than a hipster choice who doesn’t do the necessary on the pitch. Under contract to 2020, it seems most likely that he will stay at EAG, and if other older players move on, will need to take on more responsibility to keep them safe and have another tilt at a cup.

But hopefully that will not mean becoming so sensible that he stops take long-range speculative shots from outside the area. Because those, like Coco in general, are great fun to watch.

Philippa Booth

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