At a time when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are earning plaudits for their goal scoring exploits and the top football teams in Europe are cementing their places in the knockout phase of the Champions League, one emerging Cameroon born player is beginning to emerge as potential star of the future. Paul-Georges Ntep (de Madiba) signed for Rennes in French Ligue 1 during January 2014 but in 24 appearances for the club since then, he has netted 10 goals and provided several assists.
Ntep moved to France when eight years old and played youth football in and around his Paris neighbourhood until signing for the Auxerre youth squad in 2009. He established himself as part of the senior squad when he was 20 years old and in two seasons for the Ligue 2 team, he netted 22 goals from 63 appearances with his talents noticed by some of the top professional teams in Europe.
However, Philippe Montanier was the first manager to offer him the opportunity of top flight football when securing his services for Rennes and he has not been disappointed. Ntep has played in 14 of their 15 league matches this season and netted 5 goals, but his performances as a left-sided attacking player are now beginning to earn some rave reviews.
Rennes have won four of the their five previous league matches prior to this week’s action and a 1-1 draw at Nantes was secured without the services of Ntep who had been dismissed in the Coupe de Ligue victory against Marseille.
Yet it was his display in the recent 2-0 win against Monaco which really caught the eye. He demonstrated pace, awareness and dribbling skills in terrorising the opposition defence for the majority of the match while providing countless opportunities for his colleagues in the penalty area. Ntep always appeared to the outlet for any attacks by the Rennes forwards and he plays with the freedom of a player who enjoys his football.
Ntep’s partnership with Rennes Swedish striker Ola Toivonen now seems to be blossoming as they were aware of each other’s thoughts during the display against Monaco.
However, while Ntep continues to progress as a professional footballer, it may be inevitable that his name becomes linked with PSG, Chelsea and potentially Barcelona and Real Madrid. Whether he is ready for the extra attention arising from such speculation is open to question and his ability to cope with life at a much bigger football club may also be tested.
For now, 22 year old Ntep seems content to use his blinding pace and undoubted skill for the benefit of Rennes although he may be more ruthlessly targeted by opposing defences. It will be interesting to witness how such a special talent does develop in the coming years as it would be a shame if another potentially good footballer fails to progress at the highest level.