FEATURE | ‘I have become a more complete player’ – Khéphren Thuram’s profile evolving – Get French Football News

FEATURE | ‘I have become a more complete player’ – Khéphren Thuram’s profile evolving – Get French Football News

Statistically, with just one goal and no assists, this season has been the most meagre of Khéphren Thuram’s (23) career, bar his breakthrough campaign when he accrued under 600 minutes in seven appearances. Whilst this has been a season marked by difficulties for the young Frenchman, his statistics also attest to an evolution in his profile under Francesco Farioli. 

After a summer in which he was heavily tipped to leave OGC Nice, Thuram opted to stay. “Regarding what happened in the transfer window, I decided to stay. I wanted to continue to progress at Nice, and progress as a player at this club. Honestly, it made me happy to be linked to all these clubs left, right and centre. It shows I’m doing the right things but as I said, I knew I wanted to stay here,” revealed Thuram in a press conference in November. 

However, having made the decision to remain with Le Gym, help them return to the European scene and also consolidate his place in Didier Deschamps’ plans at international level, Thuram failed to make the impact he would have liked, particularly in the first part of the season. 

He has now provided an explanation for that underperformance. “In the first half of the season, there were some little niggles, which began last year, before the U21 EUROS in the summer. That caused me some problems physically,” Thuram told reporters in a press conference, attended by Get French Football News. 

A knee injury in December has been perceived as a positive for Thuram, who benefitted from his time away from the pitch to rediscover his best physical level. “The injury maybe did me some good because it has allowed me to get back to my best,” said Thuram.

Thuram’s progressive actions down

The Thuram we are seeing today, however, is not the one that we saw last season. His profile has since evolved. The meandering, free-flowing dribbles that previously characterised his play style have been displayed more sparingly. His progressive carries are down significantly this season (63) compared to last year (92), as are his progressive passes (92 this season, compared to 128 last season). 

This decrease evidences a change in profile, which has been – at least in part – instigated by the arrival of Farioli. The Italian manager, highly conscious of Nice’s rest defence and the positioning of his players in possession, has evolved Thuram as a player. Both Farioli and Thuram agree that the new version of the midfielder is “more complete,” despite the Frenchman coming in for criticism at times across the season. 

I think he has become a more complete player, more mature,” began Farioli, in response to a question from Get French Football News. “Perhaps, in some matches, there was a gap between the huge expectations and some matches where he wasn’t at 100%. He has responded and shown he is a great player. He has shown a lot of maturity. What I have seen in recent weeks is something clicking into place on a mental level. He is taking responsibility. He has grown and matured, notably in terms of his defensive work and also his consistency within matches. He has his individual reading of the game too, which is unique to him – it makes him unique, precious and that’s why he’s followed by lots of teams.” 

Thuram agrees with his manager, stating that he has become increasingly aware of his role as the season has progressed. I think that I am a more complete player this year. If you compare it to last year. I am more intelligent this season; I understand my role on the pitch more, how to defend, how to press with the team, how to position myself relative to the teammates around me,” said Thuram, in response to a question from GFFN. 

An uncertain future at Nice

I’m trying to become more intelligent every day. For example, I’m watching high-level games like yesterday’s (PSG-Dortmund) or this evening’s when Bayern Munich will face Real Madrid and I’ll focus much more on the defensive aspect, the players who play in my position, whereas before, I focused on the important moments, the goals, the dribbles. I’m trying to cultivate this game intelligence,” he added.

Whilst Thuram has had to deal with criticism that has been levelled at him at times, he has become more versatile, more rounded and less one-dimensional over the course of the season. He wasn’t ready for the big move last summer but perhaps he is now. 

With his full focus on securing European football for Le Gym for next season, Thuram was unwilling to talk about his future. “Honestly, we’ve not really talked about it, I’m just focused on the season and I’m not looking any further than the match against Le Havre. We’ll see at the end of the season when we review the season and talk about these things,” said Thuram, whose evolution and increased maturity have not gone unnoticed by some of Europe’s top teams. Farioli alluded to strong interest in Thuram, whose stint at Nice may be reaching its conclusion.

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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