Though he has yet to make his senior debut for Paris Saint-Germain, Nanitamo Ikone will not be so much of an unknown quantity after opening the scoring in front of nearly 90,000 fans on Wednesday as Unai Emery’s side defeated Real Madrid 3-1 in the second friendly of their pre-season tour of the United States. Introducing UEFA.com’s latest weekly wonderkid.
Name: Jonathan Nanitamo Ikone
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Born: 2 May 1998
Preferred foot: Left
They say …
“Jonathan is a very promising midfielder. The fact he has chosen to stay with us shows the club’s academy policy and its will to trust our young players is working well.”
Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, Paris president
“He is a versatile player. He has proven [to be] a decisive midfielder, both as a creator and a finisher. He reminds me of [Jean-Kévin] Augustin and should follow the same path. He is like [Kingsley] Coman in that he loves dribbling.”
Laurent Bonadéi, former Paris U19 coach
Nanitamo Ikone (second right) after the 2015 U17 final
Born in Bondy, a commune in the northeastern suburbs of the French capital, Ikone joined the Paris youth system in 2010. He shone in a wide-right position as a France side boasting pace and power in abundance triumphed at the 2015 UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Bulgaria, Ikone scoring one goal in six appearances. In 2015/16, Ikone helped Paris win the national U19 title, reach the UEFA Youth League final and last month penned his first professional contract.
Playing style …
Ikone is a left-footed player whose game is based on a mix of strength and dribbling skills. He likes to drift infield and shoot from long range or try to force his way through the opposition’s defensive line.
Shades of …
Ikone’s profile mirrors that of Kingsley Coman, a graduate of the Paris academy now plying his trade at Bayern München, on loan from Juventus. They both love to dribble, although Ikone is a winger whose speed is reminiscent of Franck Ribéry and Anthony Martial.
Kingsley Coman graduated from the Paris academy
Eureka moment …
Ikone showed his potential with a solo goal against Madrid on Wednesday in front of a crowd of 86,641 in Columbus, Ohio. Only two matches in Paris’ history have attracted a bigger attendance.
Best-case scenario …
Ikone was linked with Juventus before committing to Paris in June. Whether he stays at Paris long term or, like Coman, leaves after a handful of appearances, the 18-year-old has the potential to be an important player for club and country.
He says …
“I’m very happy to have scored for Paris Saint-Germain. It’s my first goal as a pro and I hope there will be more to come. I saw from the very start of the game that there was a lot of space on the pitch so I took advantage and it paid off. I’m very happy, we pulled off some great things on the pitch today and I hope it continues that way.”
“It’s a great source of pride to sign pro for such an ambitious club as Paris Saint-Germain. To train and learn alongside such incredible players is the perfect place for me to continue my apprenticeship.”