In a topsy-turvy day in the transfer market for LOSC Lille, the official signing of wonder-kid Rafael Leão from Sporting CP has been swiftly followed by the departure of Les Dogues’ star right-back Kévin Malcuit. Malcuit, a 27-year-old defender, joins Italian club Napoli from Lille after a reported fee of €11.5m was agreed upon between the two clubs. Napoli have signed the attacking right-back to a four-year contract, with Malcuit looking to impress new manager Carlo Ancelotti after a standout season in Ligue 1.
Moving to Napoli will be the first venture for Malcuit outside of France. The 27-year-old has honed his ability in Ligue 1, becoming an important figure at his two most recent clubs: Lille and Saint-Étienne. Malcuit provided 3 assists in 2016/17 for Saint-Étienne and 6 in 2017/18 for Lille as a key cog in both sides’ attack. The right-back has impressive speed and dribbling ability and can provide a real offensive outlet from a more defensive position.
Throughout this summer Malcuit was pursued by a host of club outside of Napoli, most notably Southampton, Valencia, and West Ham, but it was of course the club from Naples that won the race for the Frenchman’s signature. While the departure of one of the top performers in Lille’s 2017/18 campaign may worry, Les Dogues’ supporters can find solace in the fact that the potential replacement for Malcuit very well may be waiting on the sidelines.
The man to make Lille forget about Kévin Malcuit could be young Turkish international Zeki Çelik, who joined the Ligue 1 club earlier this summer for €3m. Much like Malcuit, Çelik boasts impressive physical attributes like quickness and strength and can also be a threat on the counter-attack.
Losing Malcuit is a big loss for Lille, but not a dooming one. With added faith in Zeki Çelik and additional impact from Lille’s numerous new signings, memories of Kévin Malcuit bombing down the right-wing in the Stade Pierre-Mauroy may not linger as long as expected.