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The Champagne Kid 🍾

French Football, especially Ligue 1 have been producing some of the brightest talents for over a decade now. From Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard to Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe, and now more recently the likes of Adil Aouchiche and Nathanael Mbuku, French Football never disappoints in terms of generational talents(Yes, we said it!)

This recent crop of players who have come out and shone from their respective academies for their boyhood clubs have been really pleasing to the eye. We’ve already briefed you about football’s next-gen Kevin De Bruyne – Adil Aouchiche – who played alongside Nathanael Mbuku in France U17 and U19’s.

So who is Nathanael Mbuku and why is he regarded so highly by not only his club and French Football but also the rest of Europe.



The 18-year-old winger is already a regular starter in Ligue 1 after having shone for France at the Under-17 World Cup just over a year ago.

A versatile attacking midfielder, Mbuku won the silver ball at the Under-17 World Cup in 2019, having scored a hatful of goals. Brazil won the tournament, but the Frenchman put himself on the map as a player to watch.

Promising young winger Nathanael Mbuku, the next big thing at Stade de Reims, also had extended his contract with his boyhood club through to 2023 last year.



A nice birthday present for Nathanael Mbuku was that, two days after celebrating his 18th birthday, the winger from Stade de Reims extended his contract through to 2023. Having appeared 11 times in Ligue 1 Conforama last season, the young left-sided winger switched from the No33 to the No21 jersey.

Mbuku made his debut in the top flight on 10 August – when Reims won 2-0 in Marseille on the opening day of the season – at the age of 17 years, 4 months and 25 days. Last summer, he shone with France in the U17 World Cup in Brazil, finishing third and taking home the silver boot with five goals scored in six games, including a hat-trick against Australia.

This contract extension was greeted with great satisfaction by President Jean-Pierre Caillot, convinced of the great potential of his young player.


Nathanael Mbuku Player Profile
Image Courtesy – Instagram/ n.mbuku


Mbuku has been getting regular game time under Reims coach David Guion. Still very early on his career, Mbuku will be pleased by starting Ligue 1 matches.

Having made his senior debut on the opening day of the 2019-20 campaign, 18-year-old Mbuku had to wait over 14 months to find the net for the first time in Ligue 1. It was worth the wait.

With Reims already 2-0 up against 10-man Montpellier in October, Mbuku chased down a dropping ball in the area, beating an opposition defender to it so as to keep the attack alive before producing an outrageous overhead-kick to put the result beyond doubt.

It remains the crowning moment of a young career that many predict will see him reach the very top of the world game.



Nathanael Mbuku has made a total of 32 appearances so far in his Reims career. He has amassed a total of 1772 minutes with 2 goals and 1 assist. Both those goals and the assist have come this season.

He averages 1.52 shots per 90 with a mediocre key pass rate of 0.91per 90 minutes. Nathanael Mbuku has an xG 1.92 which is quite decent and an xA of 1.89 which stands decently as well.

He also has a decent dribble success ratio of 59.2%, one which also won’t get many on their feet but is still good enough to go past half of his opponents.

What makes him reliable is his exceptional work-rate on the flanks and one who also does not shy from making a challenge. He makes over 2 tackles and interceptions per 90, which is really good for such a young player.



Born in the south Parisian suburb of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, Mbuku moved between a whole host of semi-professional and amateur clubs in the capital before eventually joining Reims in 2017 as a 15-year-old.

“I was a funny child who took joy from life,” the teenager told France Football of his upbringing at the end of 2019. “I had to force my dad a little to let me play football. I pulled his ears a bit and said ‘Daddy, sign me up for football’.

“He said ‘OK, on one condition: get good grades at school’. I gave it my all at school and he ended up signing me up. He surprised me. That day, I was so happy.”

His wish granted, Mbuku has been impressing onlookers ever since with his willingness to be direct in possession while giving opposition defenders headaches with both his pace and quick feet.



Nathanael Mbuku has been quite versatile for a teenage footballer. He played on the right of midfield against St. Etienne and Lille, with Reims picking up 3 points from a possible 6 over the last two games.

Against ASSE, he was quiet. The Frenchman only managed 25 touches of the ball before being hauled off on the 64th minute.

While that was a successful run-out for Mbuku’s side, the next game against Lille would be less fruitful. Mbuku was on the pitch for longer, but couldn’t stop his team slumping to a 2-1 defeat away from home.

The reported Celtic target was more involved in Reims’ play, but he still couldn’t muster as much of the ball as his midfield partners. In two games, no goals or assists followed and there was hardly any impact from the youngster.

Nevertheless, big things are expected for the young attacker. Get French Football News described Mbuku as Reims’ “next starlet” and that he’s lightning-quick, and has no problem taking the ball on from his own half.



“To meet Ronaldo? It was a childhood dream, especially to shake hands with Ronaldo. It was an indescribable emotion. He is not just anyone in football. He was my idol when I was young.”



It was against Marseille in August 2019 that he took his first steps into the senior game, with Reims boss David Guion introducing him as a 73rd-minute substitute at the famous Stade Velodrome.

“When we went out to warm-up, I was just looking at the stadium,” he recalled to Telefoot. “My teammates made fun of me because they had already played there, but I was just discovering it and it was beautiful.

“Around the 60th minute, the coach sent me to warm-up and said ‘you have two minutes’. I realised that I was going to make my debut at the Velodrome – it was amazing.”



It was while away with France at the Under-17 World Cup in November 2019, however, that his talents truly began to show themselves, with the wideman scoring five goals in six matches – including a hat-trick against Australia in the last 16 – as Jean-Claude Giutini’s side secured a third-place finish in Brazil.

That was enough for him to earn the Silver Boot as the tournament’s second-highest goalscorer behind Ajax and Netherlands forward Sontje Hansen, with Selecao legend Ronaldo the man tasked with handing over the prizes at the culmination of the final.

“This competition was an incredible experience, especially in Brazil, the country of football,” Mbuku told France Football. “I came back full of dreams, full of beautiful memories.

“To meet Ronaldo? It was a childhood dream, especially to shake hands with Ronaldo. It was an indescribable emotion. He is not just anyone in football. He was my idol when I was young.”




Mbuku spent his youth career at several lower division clubs in France before completing his development at Stade Reims.

After impressing for the club’s reserve side during the 2018-19 campaign, the youngster made his professional debut in Ligue 1 against Marseille last term.

Mbuku continued to make sporadic substitute appearances in the early weeks of the campaign before earning his first start in a famous 2-0 away win over Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbuku sat out six of the first seven matches of the current season, but was restored to the line-up against PSG in late September and has not looked back after being named in the starting XI for seven of the club’s 11 league fixtures since.

“For three weeks or a month, he’s been the best in training, there is no question,” Guion told reporters following Mbuku’s memorable goal against Montpellier. “He deserves it through all his training, that’s also where you gain your place.

“What I criticised him for was lacking in efficiency in his actions, and very slowly he is taking a little more care. We who see him in training, we are not surprised to see him emerge.

“He is able to destabilise any defender, either running inside or outside. He’s a young player who needs to be well looked after and who needs to keep working.”



Nathaneal Mbuku isn’t quite the finished article at 18 and still has plenty of room for improvement. Having made just 11 league appearances for Reims in his breakthrough season, the nippy winger has gone from strength to strength this season.

The teenager has established himself in a more prominent role at Reims, making 21 appearances in Ligue 1 so far this season.


Nathanael Mbuku Player Profile
Image Courtesy – futwiz


Mbuku looks to be an exciting talent, who has the ability to play almost anywhere in attacking areas. He has predominantly played on the left-wing for Reims. But he is also comfortable playing up front. He scored seven goals in just 11 appearances in his first year in France’s under-18 side.

If Mbuku does keep working, then the sky is the limit for potentially the most talented young footballer to emerge out of Reims in decades.

The French teenager has already started to deliver on his promise at Reims and looks set for a bright future in the game. That he has been playing regularly in one of the elite leagues in Europe, despite being just 18, speaks volumes of his talent and potential.


Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has a voice of an angel and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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