Le50 2017 – Marcus Thuram
Marcus Thuram is here to make a name for himself – regardless of any associations you may have with his last name. “Outsiders may think [my name] is a burden, but it does not change anything for me.” The 19-year-old Sochaux forward has slowly made his way up the rankings for the Ligue 2 club since arriving at its academy in 2012. Signing a pro contract in 2015, Thuram can only continue to look up.
Thuram has a rare skill set for French forwards. While the 6’2” forward has the height and physical skills that could make him a choice up top as a lone striker, he has the pace and technique to play on the flanks. Starting on the left side on the Under-20 national team, Thuram often switches sides under Ludovic Batelli’s system. His ability to accelerate down the flank paired with his technique on the ball, while uncommon for a player with his build, aids in his ability to adapt his game. He has the ability to outrun his defenders into the box, in turn stretching the defence and finding open angles and space in the final third. However, his ability as a winger, and to make the final assist, needs to be polished.
While it may be an uncomfortable position for him, as Sochaux generally employs a lone striker system, it may do him well to improve in this position moving forward within the national youth teams. With France generally playing a forward three, Thuram’s versatility and movement will help him find a permanent place in the squad. However, finding his true position may also be the key to gaining significant playing time.
While he spent much of this season on the bench or playing for Sochaux’s reserve squad, Thuram’s opportunity to shine came at the national stage.
In July 2016 he struggled to find a starting position in the U19 European Championships, having to settle for fleeting cameos off the bench as Kylian Mbappé and Jean-Kévin Augustin excelled as France won the tournament, which also qualified them for this summer’s U20 World Cup.
Coupled with his lack of club play, it was unclear whether he would get the chance to consistently play for either team. The explosion of Mbappé, however, has worked in his favour. With Mbappé’s promotion to the senior team, Thuram gained more playing time in the U20 squad, showing his skill during the Tournoi de 4 Nations earlier this year and earning his starting place at the World Cup. He started the first two group games against Honduras and Vietnam, where he also opened the scoring, and came on as sub against New Zealand and then the knock-out game against Italy.
Looking forward, Thuram should focus on his club situation. While still young, his lack of playing time at Sochaux this past season needs to hammer itself out in order for Thuram to make it to the next level. It is unlikely he will make a move to another club, and his one goal in 23 appearances this past season for Sochaux does not provide evidence that such a move would be warranted. As promising as his appearances for the French youth teams have been, he needs to become a mainstay at club level first and foremost.
He has all the qualities of becoming a top forward – Thuram just needs to find a way to ensure that they are being utilized and appreciated week in and week out.
After this profile was written, Thuram sighned for En Avant Guigamp.