Why do so many clubs want Georges Mikautadze?
AC Milan, Burnley and Wolves are circling - whether he's ready or not.
The second divison of French football is a hotbed of young talent, nurturing a number of high-profile players in their early years through its prolific academies, competitive standards, and faith in youth.
Mohamed Mohamed takes a look at Ligue 2’s newest rising star.
It’s accepted by most that French football is a great home for developing players. Ligue 1 takes the lion’s share of that attention, and with good reason: the list of transcendent youngsters who cut their teeth there only grows every year. But Ligue 2 deserves a slice of that limelight, too.
The less-appreciated French second division is a quiet hotbed of quality. The most famous example in recent memory is Riyad Mahrez, who broke through with Le Havre before moving to Leicester and starring in their improbable Premier League triumph. Other notable examples include Maxence Lacroix, Mattéo Guendouzi, and Evan N'Dicka.
This season, a new name emerged: Georges Mikautadze. After a decent 2021-22 season on loan in the Belgian Pro League, Mikautadze returned to Ligue 2 this year and set it on fire. His 31 combined goals and assists were the highest in the French second division, his non-penalty goals and assists per 90 minutes had him third behind Morgan Guilavogui and Frank Magri, and he finished the campaign by pocketing the league’s Player of the Year award. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia put Georgia on the footballing map this year, but Mikautadze’s parallel emergence proved the nation’s talent goes deeper.
Given his prolific output and the success it facilitated for his club, FC Metz, it’s no surprise that Mikautadze has been linked with a move to a top five league this summer. The Premier League seems particularly interested; Wolves and newly promoted Burnley are reportedly circling, as are AC Milan. These clubs will have watched him for months, pored over hundreds of hours of video and analyzed stats from every angle in the pursuit of an answer to one question: is Georges Mikautadze good enough?
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