Le50 2017 – Wylan Cyprien

Cyprien OGCN

Wylan Cyprien is a name that is gaining some serious traction across France. The 22-year-old midfielder gained rave reviews as unfancied Nice upset the pundits’ predictions with an unlikely title push, before finishing in a highly respectable third place and with it a potentially lucrative place in the UEFA Champions League.

In 2016, Cyprien had enjoyed a sterling season with Lens in Ligue 2, before making a jump back into the French elite with Lucien Favre’s swashbuckling young side. Much like one of his searching passes forward, Cyprien’s career progression has been calculated and  intelligent, not brazen and based on brief successes.

And intelligent it has most certainly been. With well over 100 games in Ligues 1 and 2 ahead of this campaign, the 22-year-old had already amassed the experience and know-how to function effectively alongside Jean-Michel Seri in a highly entertaining Nicois midfield.

While the likes of Mario Balotelli have perhaps generated more column inches in les Aiglons’ unlikely championship challenge, over in France Cyprien is rightly credited with a significant influence in his team’s fortunes alongside other highly talented young colleagues such as Alassane Plea, Vincent Koziello and Malang Sarr.

The energy and fitness that is so central to Cyprien’s game has benefited Nice’s quick-fire attacking play. His great passing range complements that of team-mates, while his penchant for a long-range effort has added to his own league tally. Cyprien notched the winner in a statement-making 3-2 win over Marseille in September with a trademark strike that caught Yohann Pele unawares.

Cyprien has enjoyed several key performances in 2016-17, but his man-of-the-match effort against reigning champions PSG in December must rank as his biggest to date, which has certainly launched him into the consciousness of the wider European football family.

He opened the scoring with a stunning free-kick which hurtled into Alphonse Areola’s top corner. He almost scored another just minutes later with a stinging effort from distance, before starting the move which ended in Plea putting Nice 2-0 up. While PSG did recover to claim a draw, Cyprien’s successful contribution to almost every forward venture and passage of play was very well received.

He has been lauded by Lucien Favre, who brought him in from Lens in 2016 as a player with “great potential”. Indeed, there were well merited calls for Cyprien to be included in the France squad before a season-ending ACL injury halted the fine season he had previously enjoyed.

Nevertheless, Nice will have an excellent player back from injury heading into the 2017/18 season as they seek entry into the Champions League group stages. Cyprien is heavily linked with suitors across Europe for his energetic play, yet he will remain at Nice next season under the wonderful tutelage of Favre. With other departures expected, this will be one player that Nice will be counting on in the months to come.

Mohammed Ali

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