In recent times Ligue 1 has become the new breeding ground for youngsters. Rennes’ Loum Tchaouna, Lyon’s defensive star Castello Lukeba, and Bayern Munich’s Mathys Tel are just some of the youngsters to come out of the French league in recent years. There are others as well, such as PSG’s 17-year-old sensation Warren Zaire-Emery, and Rennes’ Arnaud Kalimuendo. And now the latest name to join the list is Nantes left-back Quentin Merlin.
The 20-year-old has established himself as an integral part of the Nantes squad, making them a defence-heavy side. Merlin was already given his debut for the senior side last season but has come to his own this season.
Merlin has already become one of the best young players in the league and has also become an essential player in the youth set-up of France’s national youth team. His rise has already been noticed by several clubs who are circling around to sign him. However, a tear in his abductor’s muscle has meant he has not played for the team since mid-Janaury.
But who is Quentin Merlin, and how good is he?
How good is Quentin Merlin?
Quentin Merlin was born in Nantes on May 16, 2002, and started his footballing journey with local side FC Goelands Sanmaritains in 2008. After spending four years at the club, he received the big call-up from Nantes, the biggest club in the region. However, only a year later left for Pornic Foot.
His stint at the club lasted only two years as he returned to Nantes in 2015t and has remained there ever since. After his return to the club, he spent five years in the youth system before he was finally promoted to the Nantes’ reserve team in the 2020-21 season. Merlin would make seven appearances providing one assist. These performances prompted Raymond Domenech to give him a senior team debut in the Coupe de France against Lens on February 10, 2021.
From the 2021-22 season, he was promoted full-time to the senior squad. He made a total of 33 appearances that season and helped Nantes finish in the top half of the table. And the trend has continued this season as Merlin has become one of the first names on the team sheets.
LOOK OUT FOR – Quentin Merlin is a really exciting prospect. The 20yo can play anywhere across the left hand side & has a wonderful left foot. 2 gls / 3 ass in 28 games in his debut season are impressive stats. Might be a bit raw defensively but he’s constantly learning. pic.twitter.com/YNkKn3YLx8
— Le Classique (@LeClassiquePod) July 30, 2022
Quentin Merlin stats
In the 2021-22 season, Merlin scored two goals and provided three assists. Three of his assists also came in single goal difference, which helped his team win five points. This season he continued his trend, but an untimely injury has ensured that he hasn’t played a single game in the last two months.
However, despite that, his stats are impressive. According to Soccerment, he ranks 11th in the league for number of interceptions and ninth in terms of successful crosses in Ligue 1.
Merlin is also very adept at carrying the ball forward. According to stats from fbref, the Frenchman averages 47.42 carries per 90 minutes among the top eight percentile of fullbacks.
Merlin averages 36.95 touches in the middle of the pitch, which shows he is also impressive while contributing to the attack. This is supported by the fact that he averages 3.18 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes among the top ten percentile of fullbacks.
Quentin Merlin made the U21 top 3 for most chances created in 2022. You don’t need stats to know what a left foot he has. Cresswell’s long term replacement is right here pic.twitter.com/UucwG1wFcn
— Mahfuz🤙🏽 (@MahfuzCOYI16) January 2, 2023
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Quentin Merlin scout report
Quentin Merlin has played as a midfielder in his early days, which is why he is so brilliant going forward. Playing in the middle of the park has also given him a brilliant vision that allows him to play line-breaking passes. This is a trait that is not common among fullbacks his age.
Merlin is also a menace as soon as he gets into the attacking third from the wings. His brilliant passing, crossing gives him multiple options to get the ball forward. While he usually goes for the option of crossing the ball, Merlin can also play a quick one-two with his winger near the boundary of the wing and the left inside channel to move the ball forward.
However, there are weaknesses in Merlin’s game, mainly his decision-making in the final third. In addition, his defending also needs a lot of work. Merlin has been average in terms of winning duels, be it ground or aerial. He is also susceptible to counterattacks, and his defensive positioning, more often than not, leaves his team short of numbers.
Quentin Merlin transfer news
Nantes are a mid-table Ligue 1 side which means if Quentin Merlin continues his development, he is bound to leave the club sooner rather than later. The Frenchman has shown glimpses of becoming a good enough left-back to someday play for a top club.
We must also not forget that Merlin is only 20 years old and still has several years left before he hits his peak. And if he manages to do that, expect him to become another player in the French golden generation.