Is he the perfect successor to Jude Bellingham?
Published2 months ago
There is a big question mark over Jude Bellingham’s whereabouts at Borussia Dortmund. A possible successor candidate is said to be Khéphren Thuram from OGC Nice, who has attracted the attention of some top European clubs with strong performances. But who is the 22-year-old?
Khéphren Thuram: His sporting career
Thuram comes from a real football family. His father is the French legend Lilian, who was under contract with FC Barcelona and Juventus Turin and became world and European champion with the Equipe Tricolore. His older brother Marcus is also well known – the striker has been chasing goals for Borussia Mönchengladbach since 2019.
Born on March 26, 2001 in Reggio nell’Emilia in northern Italy, Khéphren started playing football at the age of six. As father Lilian was playing for Barcelona at the time, it was with the Catalans that he also took his first steps at club level. In 2016, through the youth teams of Olympique de Neuilly and AC Boulogne-Billancourt, he finally found a job at the AS Monaco youth academy, where he was to gain his first experience in professional football.
In August 2018 he made two appearances for the club’s second team in the 4th division, his first senior appearances, followed a few months later by his first team debut. In the 2-0 away defeat in the Champions League at Atlético Madrid on November 28, 2018, he was substituted on as a 17-year-old by then Monaco coach Thierry Henry in the 63rd minute for Alexander Golowin.
In the long term, however, he was unable to establish himself in the principality, which is why he switched to OGC Nice in summer 2019. Thuram initially had some initial difficulties with the southern French side, but found himself more and more in the starting XI as the 2019/20 season progressed. From his second year at the latest, he was an integral part of the professionals, including 29 appearances in Ligue 1.
At just 22, he has already played 133 competitive games for Les Aiglons, and it’s hard to imagine the first eleven without him. Pulling the strings in central midfield, he led his team to the quarter-finals of the Conference League this season. In Ligue 1, despite a recent phase of weakness, they are still within striking distance of the international places.
And he is also on the right track in the national team. After he went through all the youth teams of the Equipe Tricolore, coach Didier Deschamps called him up at the end of March for the senior internationals in the European Championship qualifier. There he was allowed to enjoy his first minutes against the Netherlands.
Khéphren Thuram: profile
|Place of birth||Reggio Emilia|
|societies||FC Barcelona, Olympique de Neuilly, AC Boulogne-Billancourt, AS Monaco, OGC Nice|
|Contract until||June 2025|
|position||Central/Defensive Midfield, Attacking Midfield|
|Foot||to the right|
Khéphren Thuram: What are his strengths?
Thuram feels particularly comfortable in central midfield. As is currently the case with Nice, he can be used as a tilting, more defensive six. But he also convinces with his skills a row further up – for example as an eighth or even as a tenth. As a temporary help, he even ran a few times this season on the outside in midfield.
Above all, Thuram can rely on his strong overview. Even if at first glance he seems a bit lanky and immobile with his height of 1.91 meters, he has exceptional technical qualities for his age and the physical stature to assert himself in a duel – both on the ground and in the air .
In some respects, he is therefore exactly the opposite of his brother Marcus: Khéphren prefers to play the clever plug-in pass and overcome spaces with the help of his eye instead of rushing forward and looking for the finish himself. He is also relatively quick and agile for his size.
Khéphren Thuram: What are his weaknesses?
As is so often the case with young players, the lack of consistency is a big issue for Thuram. The 22-year-old is playing an overall strong 2022/23 season (ten goals in 42 games), but he often lacks the necessary experience to consistently put his qualities on the pitch in every game.
On bad days, he also stands out with erratic passes and a lack of overview. In the meantime, it even cost him his regular place in the Nice midfield when the then coach Adrian Ursea put him on the bench for a few games in early 2021 after weaker performances.
Khéphren Thuram: performance data 2022/2023*
|Competition||games||Gates||assists||yellow cards||minutes played|
|Coupe de France||1||–||–||–||90|
*Data from transfermarkt.de
Khéphren Thuram: How could he help BVB?
With Mahmoud Dahoud, a central midfielder will leave BVB free of charge next summer, and with Jude Bellingham there is at least one other hot candidate for a change of club. Top clubs like Manchester City and Real Madrid knock on the door of the young Englishman. It is extremely unlikely that Dortmund can keep him for another year.
Thuram would then be the logical candidate for the successor in the BVB center. In terms of player type, he resembles Bellingham in many respects, even if he doesn’t quite bring the class and sovereignty that the Englishman gives Borussia.
Thuram would also be an interesting option with the departure of club legend Marco Reus, whose future has not yet been clarified beyond the summer. Since the black and yellow are relatively well positioned in defensive midfield with Emre Can and Salih Özcan, the Frenchman could also occupy a somewhat more offensive position behind a three-man attack.
Khéphren Thuram: What is the current situation?
Despite seemingly perfect conditions, BVB still sees several hurdles that need to be overcome for a transfer. On the one hand, there is the Thuram Treaty. At OGC Nice, the 22-year-old still has a working paper that runs until 2025.
Accordingly, Les Aiglons have no selling pressure whatsoever. Only in the summer of 2024 would you have to deal with a sale – if no agreement has been reached on further cooperation by then. Nice is reportedly aware of this strong negotiating position and is demanding no less than 50 million euros for Thuram.
BVB could only raise such a sum if something happened on the sales side. Although Bellingham could break the 100 million euro mark with a transfer and bring a lot of money into the coffers of Borussia, it is questionable whether Dortmund would want to invest so much money in such a young talent as Thuram.
Another problem is the fierce competition for Thuram. According to various media reports, several European heavyweights have put out feelers for the midfielder. Interested parties range from Liverpool FC to Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain to Manchester City. Even league competitor RB Leipzig is said to have kept an eye on the 22-year-old, even if the Saxons are only given outsider chances.
BVB would therefore have to be convincing, especially in terms of the overall package. In contrast to other top clubs, Thuram would have a great chance of regular appearances with Borussia and at the same time the chance to prove themselves in the Champions League. The recent past has also shown that BVB offers young talents the best conditions for successful development. Bellingham is just one of many examples that Dortmund could use as a springboard.
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