Wildly Gifted, 20-year-old Attacking Midfielder
It’s been quite an incredible 12 months for Nantes’ technically gifted attacking midfielder, Amine Harit, who followed on from winning the 2016 U19 European Championships with France by enjoying a breakout season in Ligue 1.
Although he endured some downturns in form and was banished to the reserves in March due to some midweek partying antics, the last year has been one where the positives definitely outweighed the negatives.
Spending his formative years playing in academies including that of PSG and Red Star, the Parisien born youngster joined Nantes’ academy in 2012, where he rose through the ranks smoothly. A strong season plying his trade in Les Canaris’ reserves in 2015/2016 ensured his selection for the aforementioned triumphant France U19 Euro crusade, and he continued his upward trajectory thereafter.
His Ligue 1 debut swiftly followed against Dijon on August 13 of last year and he’s quickly gone about making a name for himself courtesy of some dazzling, eye-catching performances. Playing the seventh most minutes of any Nantes player (2189), Harit’s shown precisely why he’s grown into such an important player for the club and why he’s now one of the most coveted prospects in Europe over his 34 appearances this term.
The most striking component of the 20-year-old’s armory is unquestionably his dribbling ability, as he possesses unbelievable balance, control and a sublime array of tricks. Harit’s capacity to perform brilliantly timed feints and shimmies, in combination with his awareness when operating in confined spaces, sees him regularly able to wriggle out of trouble slickly. Moreover, his wonderful skills also allow him to gain that little bit of separation from his marker to give himself some vital additional time to make ideal decisions.
Meanwhile, the dynamic attacker, who’s adept at playing in both central or wide areas, notably maintains his razor sharp control and agility when running at high speed, an attribute which only serves to add to his massive threat.
Harit’s creativity and menace extend to his passing game too, where his ingenuity in this regard compliments his dribbling superbly. A master of disguising his passes, he’ll often look in one direction and pass in another or wrap his foot around the ball in varying methods to leave defenders bamboozled. Being so confident and composed on the ball means he’s usually looking and scanning his surroundings vigorously, thus granting himself a fine platform for him to determine where to deliver.
Harit’s intelligence movement and exemplary understanding of space is yet another key component, as he has an innate knowledge of where to position himself in relation to the ball, the opposition, and his colleagues.
The fact he completed the third most dribbles in Ligue 1 (with 2.9 per game) and was the third most fouled player in the division (on 2.7 pg) underlines his nuisance suitably. In addition, his 1.2 key passes pg, which ranks him second at Nantes, amplifies his offensive qualities.
“Amine brings something special, he makes the difference. I was amazed how he finds space between the lines. He is not particularly strong but he does not go down easily either,” explained Rene Girard, his former Nantes coach.
Unpredictable, exciting and with a huge future, Harit believes the key to his success has been the way he approaches the game without letting the burden of pressure envelop him. “I never put myself under pressure. Out on the pitch, it’s all about enjoyment. I am free and I never overthink the game. I think this is one of my strengths,” he insisted.
The extraordinary talent’s skillset has predictably captured the attention of some of European football’s giants, with the likes of Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Schalke, PSG and Lyon all reportedly registering an interest. After just one full season of professional football under his belt, which saw him learn plenty from both Girard and his replacement Sergio Conceicao, who’s subsequently left the club too, Harit appears set to leave Nantes in search of a new challenge.
Many thought the club’s announcement that they’ve secured Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League winning manager in Claudio Ranieri as the coach for next campaign would’ve offered him another fantastic opportunity to learn and develop his craft. But despite having signed a new deal in January and Ranieri promising to deploy him as his number 10, Harit looks destined to depart for Schalke.
Although spending another year within the familiar confines of the Stade de la Beaujoire would’ve probably been advisable, Harit clearly feels he’s ready to embark on the next chapter of his footballing journey.
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