One the most sought after talents on the market this January is Auxerre’s attacking youngster Paul Georges Ntep. Our in depth scouting report and player profile below:
Ligue 2 defences have to be extra attentive when they face the wrath of Auxerre’s attack, not least because of the frightening talent and incisiveness of one winger, Paul Georges Ntep. After developing as a teenager at CSF Bretigny, who have produced the likes of Jimmy Briand and Patrice Evra, he joined Auxerre’s youth setup in 2009. The Franco-Cameroonian born youngster has benefited from substantial exposure to first team football since 2011, where he featured in the club’s Champions League registered squad before becoming an integral part of the first team squad the following season (2012-2013) when Auxerre faced their first season back in Ligue 2.
Ntep is an out-and-out winger who uses his pace and direct style of running to surge past players into space to create chances to cross or cut inside and get the shot away himself. His favoured position is the left wing, but he has the versatility and characteristics to play down the opposite flank and even behind the striker in our opinion. The France U21s international’s game is very pleasing on the eye. He has a bag of tricks and showboating skills that he uses to good effect to confuse the opposition. In order to give you some context, one would have to compare him with the ‘good’ Gervinho who we saw at Lille and more recently AS Roma: the way he twists and turns, his agility on the ball and surprisingly powerful (but perhaps less accurate) shot. Yet there is something more intense about Ntep’s performances: he seems to have already managed to find the right balance of confidence and arrogance that a silky winger must possess. What is more is his hunger and drive to have the ball at his feet no matter what period of the game, no matter what the score. Another admirable characteristic of Ntep’s is that sudden burst of acceleration he possesses. It is perhaps his unpredictability, which most worries defences. Ntep is also developing a recently discovered area of his game in taking set pieces, a free kick in October 2013 against Laval standing out.
It is therefore perhaps no surprise that Auxerre were inundated with offers for Ntep in the summer of 2013. Auxerre President Guy Cotret managed to convince the then 21 year old to stay put but he has already conceded defeat in forcing the same outcome again: ‘Our selling of Ntep depends on the quality of the offer. As soon as there is something concrete, we will discuss with him. However, we won’t look to sell him in January if it looks like we may win promotion to Ligue 1.’
There always elements of a footballer’s game that need improving and Paul-Georges Ntep is no different in this respect. First of all, he struggles to control bring the ball down to his feet if he is forced to make his first touch aerially. That is why he prefers to receive the ball to feet and from deep, but also because this way he has more space to run at. Secondly, his crosses into the box are often wayward and inaccurate. He is far more able to zip balls across the surface and into the 6-yard box rather than floating them in.
With his international future yet to be resolved (he is eligible to represent either Cameroon or France), Noel Le Graet and Didier Deschamps will be keeping a close eye on Ntep’s consistently brilliant performances for manager Willy Sagnol in the France U21s shirt.