Four JMG Academy Graduates On The Verge Of Breakout Seasons

Ramy Bensebaini


Club: Montpellier (on loan from Paradou AC)
Date of birth: April 16, 1995 (20 years old)
Height: 1.86m
Position: Centre-Half
Nationality: Algerian

Tassala el-Mardja, farmland dozens of kilometres from Algiers, is where Paradou AC set the foundations for their Jean-Marc Guillou academy. The owner of the club, Kheireddine Zetchi – a ceramics magnate – is credited with financing Algeria’s first private football academy.

Paradou made waves in the footballing world when managing respectable results against Spanish giants Villareal and Barcelona. After standout performances in said European friendlies, Bensebaini was handed trials at Porto and Arsenal respectively. His trial in Portugal was inconclusive, but Arsene Wenger certainly seemed interested in Ramy. Unfortunately for the centre-half, he was ineligible for a work permit due to England’s strict labour laws and just a year later he transferred to Lierse who were fighting relegation in the Jupiler league.

After a full season with the club, Bensebaini transferred to Montpellier, where it seemed, at first, that he might not adapt. In his first start Ramy was at fault for both goals La Paillade conceded against Angers. Bensebaini quickly overcame his shaky start and the rest of his performances look promising. Coach Rolland Courbis has found ample praise for his young defender.

Ramy’s poise on the ball even led Courbis to draw comparisons with Emmanuel Petit, and gave credence to the former Marseille coach testing Bensebaini out in defensive midfield. As he continues to log game time and experience, expect Bensebaini to make a name for himself both in France and in Algeria, with whom he awaits his first international cap.

Hamari Traore

hamari traore

Club: Reims
Date of birth: January 27, 1992 (23 years old)
Height: 1.75m
Position: Right-Back
Nationality: Malian

For most in Reims, the purchase of right-back Hamari Traore was wholly unnecessary considering the standing of Aissa Mandi at the club. Not only is Mandi is a pure product of Reims’ academy, he has 100+ Ligue 1 appearances to his name, he has contested a World Cup, and was arguably Ligue 1’s best right-back last season.

It is, therefore, a credit to Hamari that he has now made that position his own. Mandi has, admittedly, moved to central defence on his own volition, but Traore’s performances ensured the Reims faithful missed nothing of the Algerian’s ventures down the flank.

The Malian fullback scored the lone goal against Marseille, in a match that would ultimately cement Marcelo Bielsa’s demission. Traore completes an astounding 4.5 interceptions per match and often uses them as a springboard to transition into attack. The Bamako native needs to improve the accuracy of his crosses, but he’s already proven an asset at fullback for Olivier Guegan and Stade de Reims.

Adama ‘Noss’ Traore

: Monaco
Date of birth:
June 28, 1995 (20 years old)
Central Midfield
Nationality: Malian

Like Hamari Traore, Adama ‘Noss’ Traore is a graduate of Bamako’s JMG academy. The last twelve months Noss’ career have been tumultuous as he skirted around Lille’s first team and a full international call-up.

Though critics might point out his slight frame,‘Noss’ is as comfortable on the wing as he is in central midfield. His skill and vision help him cope in the centre of the pitch and his nose for goal makes the 20 year-old an equally attractive proposition on the flanks. Traore burst onto the scene at the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup where he was named the tournament’s best player, winning the Adidas Golden Ball, after scoring four goals and providing three assists.

Noss’ exploits in New Zealand drew the watchful eye of Monaco, who under new management, have decided to instil a philosophy of polishing the game’s biggest talents, instead of buying them outright. A gargantuan bid of 14 million Euros wrested the 20 year-old from Herve Renard and Lille. If nothing else, Noss’ price tag is a measure of just how highly Monaco rate the young Malian star.

Jason Denayer


Club: Galatasaray (on loan from Manchester City)
Date of birth:
June 28, 1995 (20 years old)
Nationality: Belgian

Denayer is the only player on this list to have come through JMG’s European academy in Lier, Belgium. Denayer joined at the age of 13. It was with the JMG Academy that he underwent a positional transformation from striker to defender, and he credits the Guillou brand for refining his technical ability on the ball.

Scouts from Manchester City fell under the charm of the ball-playing centre-half and months later he signed a contract with City. Joining City truly was a dream come true for Denayer who lists Vincent Kompany and Thiago Silva as his idols.

Celtic fan, Brendan MacFarlane, sees a resemblance in the playing styles of Denayer and Silva, as both have the ability to outleap strikers and win aerial duels, despite being relatively short for central defenders. Denayer also bears the trademark stamp of authenticity all JMG graduates possess: he’s great on the ball.

After impressing in Scotland at the age of 19, Denayer has once more been loaned out to Galatasaray, where he has already made five appearances this term.

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