Le50 2017 – Adam Ounas
Ligue 1 followers will be well aware by now that it is a league littered with young, ambitious and naturally gifted raw diamonds destined to be stars. Those three descriptions perfectly fit 20-year-old midfielder Adam Ounas. Despite talents such as Lyon’s Nabil Fekir and Nantes’ Amine Harit grabbing the headlines, Ounas – a product of the fabled Bordeaux academy – was marked out as one to keep a very close eye on by those who had witnessed the flashes of his mercurial talent; for a prime example, do look up a stunning piece of brilliance against Troyes this past season, a sumptuous self set and volley to win the game.
The major thing that sets Ounas apart from so many his age is a fearless and often bordering on arrogant style of play when on the ball. Introduced to football at just four years of age, he joined the Tours academy and later a Chateauroux U14 side, eventually settling in Bordeaux’s academy in April 2013 (after being discovered by former French international Yannick Stopyra) where his development and skills were clear for all to see. A diamond had been discovered and the eventual sale of Wahbi Khazri to Premier League side Sunderland opened the door for Ounas truly to break through.
Predominantly left-footed, Ounas is at home anywhere in the attacking third of the pitch whether wide right or left in a three-pronged attack, or a natural wide man in a 4-4-2. Possessing beautiful balance and trickery on the ball his versatile nature makes him extremely hard to track for a defence, his clever movements and a love for cutting inside into small areas of space make him a danger in all attacking plays. A fleet-footed, almost gliding style on the ball also allows for slaloming direction changes.
In terms of Ligue1, Ounas’ record stands up against many young talents in Europe; eight goals in 49 league games between 2015-2017 repaid the faith shown in him by Willy Sagnol – the first coach to give him his first team break, and more recently by Jocelyn Gourvennec.
International recognition has also come: after playing one match for the French U20 team – opening the scoring in a 4-3 friendly win over England in 2015 – he declared for Algeria, where his father Hadji played in goal for ES Mostaganem in the 1980s, for whom he has been called up to the full squad, but is yet to make an appearance.
With every young talent comes faults and it must be said that defensively Ounas needs improvement: tracking back when losing possession is not his forte, nor is winning the ball back when dispossessed. His off-pitch behaviour has also been highlighted as needing some work, as with arrogance and self-belief comes an attitude, but when looking at what he brings in the final third of the pitch it is difficult to disagree that he has been one of Ligue 1’s most sought-after talents, something that in the summer of 2017 has resulted in his transfer to Serie A side Napoli.
Upon signing the deal, Ounas said “I leave for a new challenge with joy and determination, but I’m leaving a big club which gave me everything and I want to thank those people who put their faith in me from the start…A huge thank you to all the club personnel, the staff, my teammates as well as the Bordeaux supporters…Good luck to the club going forward and a million thanks.”
The future glows brightly for Ounas, but he will be hoping for better fortunes ahead of his big move abroad – and not to follow in the footsteps of the similar Sofiane Boufal who left Ligue 1 last summer to largely disappointing results. French football fans will no doubt be keeping a close eye on Napoli next season.