Le50 2017 – Yann Karamoh
The match: Caen v Dijon. The score: 0-0. The 24th minute, and a wiry number 7 drifts to the right-hand channel before taking one touch and whipping an inch-perfect deep cross to the head of the arriving Ivan Santini for an opening goal. That number 7? Yann Karamoh. This perfectly encapsulates the young winger’s qualities all in one goal: pace, movement, composure and end product delivered in a precise area for a teammate.
Born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Karamoh joined Caen’s youth set-up in 2011 from lower league Racing Colombes 92. Having impressed as he rose through the age groups and being promoted from Caen’s reserves after a debut season with them featuring 11 goals from only 28 appearances, he was given his break by Caen coach Patrice Garande at the beginning of the 2016/17 season, making his Ligue 1 debut as a substitute in a 3-2 win over now-relegated Lorient in the opening game of the season. His 15 minute cameo was enough to earn him a starting spot in Caen’s next match and it became quickly apparent that despite his slight frame and somewhat gangly running style, Karamoh could produce at the highest level. He caught the eye notably in a 2-2 draw away at high-flying Nice where his speed helped him end a lightning-fast break, unlocking the Nice offside trap, lobbing goalkeeper Yoann Cardinale and showing great poise when faced with Dante, the veteran Brazilian blinking first and moving one way, Karamoh going the other for a calm, composed, brilliant goal. A star was born.
Deployed largely as a right winger or in a two-man attack, Karamoh quickly found his feet in this, his debut season in France’s top flight. Having represented the French national side at all levels from U16 to U21 level, making 21 appearances in total for les Bleus’ youngsters and bagging 7 goals in the process, the transition to Ligue1 was a smooth one for the 18 year old.
The faith shown in him by Garande has been clear all season: despite it being his rookie year and his still being a teenager, Karamoh played in 35 of Caen’s 38 league matches of the 2016/17 season, starting 25 of them. His five goals and four assists is an impressive return, as is his pass completion rate: WhoScored record it at 76.8%, impressive for a veteran attacker, let alone a man so young and so raw.
In terms of his future, Karamoh’s breakout season last term has attracted interest from some hefty clubs, in particular in the Premier League, where Southampton, West Ham, Newcastle and even Arsenal have been rumoured to have made enquiries.
When speaking about his future Karamoh stated “if I had the choice, I would go to a club where I would play…I do not want to go to Monaco to go on loan. When I see (Allan) Saint-Maximin, who has been on loan at Bastia, I think ‘I just played 35 matches this season’, and I wonder if it’d be worth it…I want to play. I want to go to a club where I could continue to evolve, to mature in two or three years.”
Given his tender years, still developing physique and starting spot at Caen, it would be in his interest to remain with the Ligue 1 club. But the money offered to exciting young French talents – and to their clubs – can sometimes be hard to resist. It is Karamoh’s move and, as Dante can testify, he is unlikely to make the wrong choice.