La Dea’s gifted midfielder Franck Yannick Kessié has already erupted onto the scene in his debut cameo in the Italian top-flight, and Europe’s biggest clubs have been signaled.
Off to a roaring start in the latest installment of Serie A TIM, Atalanta’s Ivorian starlet Franck Kessié has become a hot commodity across not just Italy, but England as well. When you possess the qualities this 19-year old does, all of Europe stops to take notice.
Meet Franck Yannick Kessié.
Date of birth: 12.19.96 (19 years old)
Nationality: Ivory Coast
Club: Atalanta BC
Height: 1,83 m
Caps: Ivory Coast U-17 (5 app), Ivory Coast (5 app)
Kessié’s quest for first team Italian football with La Dea began just over 18 months ago when he joined their Primavera ranks from his native side Stella Club. Since arriving in January 2015 to the peninsula, the youngster has quickly made the adjustment and transition with ease.
Last season, the teenage defender turned midfielder under Massimo Drago at Cesena spent a successful stint in the second tier of Italian football, Serie B. This loan did wonders for his growth and development as he featured in 37 matches, scoring four goals and collecting two assists. For Atalanta — and manager Gian Piero Gasperini who easily identified his quality in pre-season — this was certainly enough for them to bypass an additional loan spell and keep hold of him for the 2016-17 Serie A season.
Four goals in just five matches, you could say the Serie A debutant is off to a superlative start.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Franck Kessié, labeled “the New Yaya Touré” by several outlets across the Italian spectrum, has similar physical and technical qualities to his countryman who he wishes to emulate his game after.
Kessié, already capped by his national team when he debuted at the fruitful age of 17 against Sierra Leone, has a body that should continue to grow. A defender by trade, his maturity in the midfield will only benefit him down the road especially if he remains in front of the defensive back four.
In the air, Kessié demonstrates confidence in winning headers. There is very little reluctance to attack the ball and win aerial battles. Of course, his role is more demanding of work on the ball but this gives you an idea of his athleticism.
Passing is a department in which the Ivorian is above average in. His vision allows him time to see his next pass and execute, though as teams approach him with more compactfulness, his talent will be tested.
Last season with the Bianconeri, his statistics were more indicative of a deep-lying midfielder, however he has shown his willingness to move into advanced positions to seek goal scoring opportunities. His knack for making late runs forward onto the edge of the box allows him to be more expressive and use his explosiveness in the attacking third. Once he does find a pocket of space in the penalty area, seldom does he spoil his chance. Calm, cool and collected when goals are to be bagged.
Given his rawness, weaknesses are bound to arise. Obviously his red-hot start needs to be sustained for more than just a four game spell. How he handles the rigors of a long season in the Italian top-flight will be a true testament to his work ethic — and preparation — in training. Also, given the need for goals for the Bergamasca club, it’s understood that while he has the freedom to push forward, he mustn’t venture off and slack on his duties as a midfielder.
Football isn’t played solely with the body, but the mind as well. In the 2-1 win over Torino, the confident teen took the penalty off of designated taker Alberto Paloschi. Of course, this did not go over well with Gasperini, Paloschi and a few of his teammates. He did convert from the spot however, but that’s not the point. Confidence is great to have as a youngster, but one must obey orders. You can bet he was pulled aside in the changing room and it’s unlikely we see him overstep his place in these instances.
Franck Yannick Kessié has all of the traits to be one of African football’s brightest prodigies. Yaya Touré and Michael Essien comparisons aside, Kessié has the God-given talent to make a name for himself and write his own future for Côte d’Ivoire.
Unfortunately for Atalanta, their top goalscorer’s performances have alerted Premier League titans Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, as well as Italian giants Juventus. In fact, Southampton, Schalke, Monaco and Roma were among those interested in prying Kessié away from Bergamo last term. Atalanta, however, elected the route of dealing with Napoli who installed an option on him as part of the Alberto Grassi deal which saw him return to La Dea this summer.
The fact is Kessié will be difficult to retain, especially since he has aspirations of playing for the Old Trafford outfit. Kessié told Sky Italia he is focused on learning Italian tactics but would like to play for Manchester United one day as they’ve always been his favorite club.
Given the market in modern day football for a teenage sensation with an array of mouth-watering characteristics, it’s likely a move is on the horizon, perhaps a formality. However, for now, supporters of Italian football — and Atalanta — should just be refreshed with Kessié and everything he provides the city of Bergamo.