No, discount the above image, he isn’t actually a goalkeeper. What Benoît Badiashile is, though, is a highly rated French central defender who’s been the subject of interest across Europe.
Not just any interest, however, Manchester United have been knocked back in their efforts to sign him, with Monaco rejecting a £22m bid for the 19-year-old.
From sudden unknown entity to being targeted by one of the world’s biggest clubs, Badiashile has, in the last few weeks, become a hot topic of conversation.
Those discussions probably won’t stretch beyond a simple ‘who?’ – for reference, his Wikipedia bio simply reads ‘French footballer who plays as a defender for Monaco’ – but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the ins and outs of this rising talent.
A chapter in Monaco’s history best left collecting dust on the shelf, Thierry Henry’s reign in charge of his former side ended abruptly, and with a whimper. The players weren’t playing for him, thus he tried his hand at injecting some youth into his failing side.
One of whom, was Badiashile. Just 17 years old at the time, Henry thrust him into starting lineup with the simple task of facing Paris Saint-Germain in November 2018. They lost 4-0. They were utterly outclassed.
Talk about a baptism of fire, eh?
A viral video circulated the month after his debut, where Henry was less than pleased with one of his players forgetting to tuck his chair in following a press conference.
Guess who that was!
Indeed, still only 17, Badiashile felt the full force of Henry’s discontent, staring him down with a fierce, yet puzzled look. It worked. He tucked his chair in.
You wonder if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would do likewise…
Despite being on the wrong end of the aforementioned thrashing, Badiashile was clearly still highly thought of by Henry, his successor Leonardo Jardim, Roberto Moreno after him, and now Niko Kovac.
With 47 first team appearances to his name, the 19-year-old has barely been out of the side, barring a spell towards the latter end of the 2019/20 season, where he was on the bench for ten of the final 14 Ligue 1 matches.
Granted, his Monaco side didn’t win their opening Ligue 1 fixture of the season – they drew 2-2 at home to Reims – but Badiashile got himself on the scoresheet with, surprisingly, a rather superb piece of technical skill.
Standing well over six foot, the centre-half flung himself into the air, Henry-esque in fact, to control Aleksandr Golovin’s free-kick in the box. Taking the ball down (very) elegantly, he then calmly slotted home to salvage a draw for his side. A goal any striker would be proud of.
It was just his second strike for the club.
When a club such as United come calling for a player, the man in question must be more than your average Joe. It appears to be so, as Napoli have been linked with him in the past as a replacement for none other than Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been apparently moving to Manchester City every other week for two years.
In terms of his qualities, his giant, imposing frame is hard to overlook. No pun intended. He’s surprisingly quick off the mark, competent in possession and a more than capable ball carrier, although as expected at his age, concentration levels can drop and his distribution can be a tad overambitious.
Plenty on time to iron those creases out, mind you.
You can’t be ‘highy-rated’, an ‘incredible young talent’ or ‘on every major club’s radar’ without being the next so and so.
Fortunately for Badiashile, he’s got one too: Raphael Varane.
Maybe it’s because they’re French. Maybe it’s because he’ll drop a few clangers at the Etihad Stadium. Heck, who knows. Actually, who cares.