• Bissouma yves jmg soccer academy child in mali academy
  • Bissouma yves jmg soccer academy child in mali after a game
  • Bissouma yves jmg soccer academy child in mali
  • Bissouma yves jmg soccer academy head shot
  • Bissouma yves jmg soccer academy with Salem
  • Bissouma yves jmg soccer academy

Courtesy of THE ARGUS  (August 17 2018): Link to the article 

Staff at the Jean Marc Guillou Academy in Mali, where a free-spirited Bissouma played barefoot and learned about what he calls ‘proper football’, will keep as close an eye as possible on the Manchester United game. Their thoughts will be: “Good luck Yves, enjoy yourself, play like you did at the academy – and don’t forget you still haven’t done your homework!”

Bissouma is in the running to face United at some stage, very possibly from kick-off. Given the chance, he will show the enthusiasm, skill and strength we have already seen in glimpses. He might just order his senior colleagues about a bit, as he did as a cheeky kid at the academy and again when grabbing the ball off Anthony Knockaert recently to take a free-kick at Birmingham.

But he has reined himself in from the days when he tried to do everything himself if his team were losing. Or when he would produce nutmegs and tricks in his own penalty area while playing centre-back. Those who coached and educated him at the residential JMG Academy in Bamako hope to see the flair, the smile and the occasional desire to do his own thing shine through on the big stage.

Academy administrator Mamadou Wad remembers Bissouma as a carefree, hugely talented kid whose will to win could sometimes get the better of him but who always looked like he had a spark. Bissouma told The Argus after signing from Lille this summer that his academy days were tough after leaving his family at the age of 13.

But his teachers still recall a boy with a massive zest for life – and football. Wad told the Argus: “He stood out very quickly in the recruitment tournament. “He was powerful and fast, fairly versatile and already very skilled with the ball.

“Football was fun. He tried the most insane moves, the most unusual controls. He was carefree. But he really liked to win.

“He would roam everywhere on the pitch, confident that his talent alone would win the match for his team. If his team were losing, he’d turn into a coach, re-positioning his team-mates, talking to them and giving them instructions.

“Then, in the next few minutes, he’d be off doing it all on his own, totally at odds with what he had just been telling them!

“He was full of very good intentions, but his enthusiasm made him a little unruly at times. But he still had the technical and physical capability to fix things.

“Jean Marc Guillou saw all that and knew, if he could channel Yves, he would become a very good footballer.”

Wad recalls Bissouma putting his physical strength to good use at centre-back. But his approach to that role was, shall we say, not exactly Hughton-esque.

“It was a position where he could have excelled because he was very good in duels, both on the ground and in the air, he could win the ball cleanly and he could use it very well.

“But at times he took big risks which could harm his team.

“He’d try nutmegs, tricks and dribbles in the heart of defence.

“He knew he had qualities to play in central defence but it wasn’t the role he most enjoyed.

“He wanted to go forward and he had the power and ability to do that.”

Bissouma’s coaches played him at full-back or as a holding midfielder at times in a bid to add structure to his game. But they were keen not to dilute his skills and natural joie de vivre.

Wad said: “Yves liked to impose himself on the game, get himself forward and try to score goals and win.

“He always wanted to go forward, where it is easier for him to hurt his opponent.

“The young man he has become has stored up his experiences and knows how to be less flamboyant.

“But he has kept a little of that insouciance, that nonchalance that allows him to produce his skills, dribbles, strikes from nowhere, unimaginable pieces of control.”

As Bissouma progressed at the academy, he also looked after the younger students.

Wad said: “He was the closest friend of the youngest kids at the boarding school.

“He could get angry but never for long.

“He spent his evenings with the youngest, to give them the necessary advice to succeed – even though he didn’t always do it to the letter himself!

“But Yves was always full of good intentions, and everyone forgave him everything.”

Bissouma has been compared to Paul Pogba and that will surface again if he faces United’s world champion midfielder on Sunday. He plays that down, saying Yaya Toure has been more of an idol for him. Those at the academy would cite another player as a big influence – Didier Zokora, who, like Bissouma, hails from Abidjan and spent time at JMG.

Wad said: “He was mad about Didier Zokora, so much so that we gave him the nickname Zokora for a few years.

“But he understood that having an inspiration like that shouldn’t stop him building his own way with his own personality.”

It will be nine years next month since Guillou, a former France international midfielder and a renowned coach, first spotted Bissouma at that recruitment tournament in Ivory Coast. It wasn’t a bad crop. The group of players taken on at that time also included Amadou Haidara, now of Red Bull Salzburg, Lucien Zohi of Strasbourg, Lens duo Souleymane Diarra and Cheick Doucouré plus Kouame N’Guessan Rominigu, Bissouma’s long-time close friend with whom he signed for Lille.

But, even in that company, a potential Premier League outing is something special.

Wad said: “We’re all happy and not at all surprised here at the JMG Mali Academy to see Yves build his career.

“We know that he is able to achieve beautiful things, which is what we all wish him.”

He added with a laugh: “By the way, Yves and Kouame still owe their teacher an essay to see which one of the two was the better student in French lessons.

“He must still remember it. They said they would do it after signing their first professional contracts at Lille and we are still waiting for them.

“So as soon as he gets a chance…!”

Courtesy of THE ARGUS  (August 17 2018): Link to the article

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