Football fairy tales wouldn’t be complete without Leicester City and N’Golo Kante. The Foxes charmed their way to the hearts of millions with an aggressive expansive brand in 2016 that culminated in winning the Premier League. Kante was the midfield linchpin that pulled all the strings.
Since that remarkable run, the Frenchman has grown in stature and pedigree. He clinched another league crown at Chelsea, picked up an FA Cup winners medal the next and began this term as World champion. This is the sort of achievement many players would only have envisaged in fantasy football.
In Ligue 1 this term, there’s a similar theme. Toulouse is hoping to do a Leicester. At the heart of Les Violets improbable quest to displace monopolistic Paris Saint-Germain is 20-year-old, Ibrahim Sangare, who is acting as it’s own Kante. The only difference, however, he is much younger and much bigger.
Like the Foxes, Toulouse began quite oddly. They were beaten mercilessly by Marseille. That shock slump triggered their campaign. Les Violets have crushed every other opponent that came their way. Bordeaux. Nimes. Guingamp. Only PSG and Dijon have bettered them for points and goals. Young Sangare is leading the club from the centre.
Having made his debut as an 18-year-old back in 2016, the Ivorian only really established himself as a first team regular under Alain Casanova midway through last season, going on to start 18 times in Ligue 1. In that short time, his ball-winning skills was visible, Sangare racked up the most tackles – a feat previously achieved by his idol, Kante.
Toulouse sudden upturn in fortunes isn’t a coincidence. Sangare is largely culpable. He is currently averaging 4.5 tackles per game. No one has before reached such figures. The efficiency of his challenges have seen a huge improvement now too, dribbled past just once, resulting in an outstanding 94.7 per cent tackle success.
Sangare isn’t just a destroyer though. His ball retention and distribution ability are equally superb. He can ghost past bodies and rarely loses possession. He’s the first and only player to reach double figures for tackles and dribbles, highlighting his relevance a Toulouse side that has now won three on the spin.
Besides an impressive physique, the Ivorian flaunts a superior offensive prowess compared to the Chelsea midfielder. Sangare doesn’t just interrupt play or dribble for the fun of it, he takes games by the scruff of the neck. He notched his first goal of the season in the most recent victory at Guingamp. Before that, he registered an assist in the win over Bordeaux.
It’s a big ask for Toulouse to dislodge PSG. The Parisians are extravagant to the extent of purchasing an entirely new XI in the winter. But should Sangare maintain this form till the season’s end, he would definitely be rewarded. Etienne Capoue and Moussa Sissoko are typical examples of Premier League stars who made headway at the Stadium Municipal.