by Tom Lees - 14th February 2016
The latest in a long line of exciting young French forwards, Maxwel Cornet is in the midst of his breakthrough year in professional football. Born in the Ivory Coast, Cornet learnt his trade in the Metz youth academy, an academy where names such as Pjanic, Pires, Adebayor and Louis Saha were all graduates. Cornet would impress at youth level and go on to make his professional debut for Metz in August 2013, then garner a healthy number of appearances for Les Grenats before making the move to Olympique Lyon in January 2015. A slow start to his career in Lyon followed with only a handful of games to his name, before pushing his way into the first team on a regular basis in the 2015/16 season. Still most displays see young Cornet appear from the substitutes bench, but he is regularly called upon and has been making a big impression when he does come on. The youngster has even scored a few goals for his club in the league, cup and the Champions League and it seems he is about to explode into stardom.
Cornet has represented and scored for France at every level up to the Under 20’s and is now on the cusp of representing the Under 21 side. If he can build on his form at club level, it won’t be long before people stop linking his name to the Under 21 squad but rather the full French national team instead. A forward with electric pace who thrives on running at defences as they retreat, his quick feet and ability to dribble at speed with great balance make Cornet an extremely dangerous opponent to face. A player with great flair to his game, Cornet is also not afraid of working hard for the team and can be seen tracking back in an attempt to win the ball. But his main asset is around the opposition area where his high quality finishing will surely earn the forward a number of goals in his career. Most often seen operating wide, off of the main striker, Cornet can play on either flank or operate centrally, although his physical limitations mean he is currently more effective out wide where space is to be found. Primarily left footed, Cornet is more than capable with either and this aides his ability to beat a man either at speed or in tight situations. There are certain aspects to his game that are reminiscent of the Lyon legend Sidney Govou, and any emulation of Govou’s career will be a huge achievement for Maxwel Cornet.
He has come a long way since joining Lyon in early 2015, but there is still much for the youngster to learn. He can be a little raw at times and needs to pick and choose his moments to show his dribbling ability, but Cornet is still only 19 and will pick up these traits in time. It is unlikely that the forward will stay in France too long, as his talents will soon attract some of the game’s biggest clubs, but Lyon will be hoping to keep hold of him for as long as possible. At international level French fans can be rightly excited, together with Anthony Martial, Kingsley Coman and Neal Maupay, France have some outstanding young attacking prospects. Cornet may not be the most cultured of the bunch, but his dynamic pace and flair coupled with his ability to find the net make the forward a real talent to look out for.