Midfielder | Brighton & Hove Albion | Mali
French football churns out athletic midfielders with impeccable regularity and Yves Bissouma is yet another to emerge in the typical mould after two years with the Lille first team - strong yet agile and blessed with rangy, spindly legs. He’s perhaps not quite the next Paul Pogba, but certainly has the potential to start giving Yann M’Vila a run for his money.
Now of Brighton & Hove Albion, Bissouma’s showing he possesses the physicality to be a success in the Premier League, even if his overall performances have been a little rough around the edges.
2018 has been…
A year of movement in the right direction, while still stepping off the boat at completely the wrong time. Lille were nothing short of disastrous throughout 2017/18, eventually finishing the Ligue 1 campaign in 17th place and just one point clear of the relegation zone, but Bissouma showed enough potential during the second half of the season - particularly scoring in two of the three wins that secured the club’s survival - to earn a big-money switch to the Premier League.
Unfortunately for Bissouma, Lille find themselves at the complete opposite end of the table this season, only second to PSG largely due to the scintillating form of Nicolas Pepe and Jonathan Bamba.
Instead, Bissouma is now fighting another relegation battle at Brighton and while Chris Hughton may be the kind of football manager you’d proudly take home to meet your mother this Christmas, he’s never been hugely concerned with the type of exciting football the Mali international probably needs to make himself a midfield superstar. Discipline is the order of the day at the Amex Stadium, and a side that averages just 43% possession has a worrying knack of often bypassing the midfield.
That being said, Hughton is giving Bissouma chances - seven substitute appearances and seven starts in the Premier League, to be precise. Clearly the Brighton boss has high hopes for the 22-year-old.
Less substitute appearances and more starts, much of which will depend on Bissouma’s capacity to prove he’s more valuable to Brighton’s midfield than Pascal Gross - assuming most selections will be a tossup between the German No.10 and the Ivory Coast-born No.8. A few goals will certainly help in that aim, which is where Bissouma currently lacks: the two strikes at the end of last season represents his greatest ever league haul for a campaign, and the 5 foot 11 midfielder is yet to get off the mark for Brighton.
C+ - A steady upward trajectory albeit lacking the suggestion Bissouma is a future Ballon d’Or candidate.