May 9, 2020
Le Gym, Europe’s youngest team
Le Gym was the youngest team in Europe during the 2019-20 season. The statistics, provided by club partner Opta, shone the spotlight on the club’s policy of giving youth a chance and building for the future.
“We want to see the club grow in terms of its competitive spirit. It’s not a question of age. Youcef Atal and Hicham Boudaoui are competitors, winners.” In light of the statistics, Julien Fournier’s declarations concerning the next Rouge et Noir transfer window, take on an extra layer of significance. A winding road, balancing between the immediate and the future. It’s a road the club has been travelling down for years and will continue to follow. During the 2019-20 campaign, the average age of OGC Nice’s starting XI, calculated on a league-high 31 players used, was just 24 years and 86 days. It’s not only the youngest average age in France, but in all of Europe.
A look at the other Top 5 European leagues confirms the statistic. In the table of the youngest sides on the continent, Les Aiglons came home a few days younger than fellow Ligue 1 side LOSC. Eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League and finishing in a solid fourth place in Ligue 1, Les Dogues averaged 24 years and 217 days. Still involved in the Champions League, at the time of its Covid-19 postponement (after eliminating Tottenham in the last-16), RB Leipzig currently sit third in the Bundesliga and third on this list with an average age of 24 years and 293 days.
Thuram, the youngest
During the 2019-20 campaign, five Nice players born in 1998 or later, made their Ligue 1 debuts with Le Gym: Alexis Claude-Maurice (1998, who had only played L2 with Lorient), Hicham Boudaoui (1999, signed from Paradou), Moussa Wagué (1998, on loan from Barcelona), Khephren Thuram (2001, signed from Monaco in summer 2019), Ibrahima Cissé (1999, from RC Abidjan and completed his youth training with Le Gym).
Born in 1997 and a product of the club’s youth academy, Yannis Clémentia made his professional debut on 10 August 2019 at 22 years of age.
There is another telling statistic which backs up Nice’s youthful claims. During the 28 matches of the truncated Ligue 1 season, Le Gym fielded six of the ten youngest starting XIs across Europe’s Top 5 leagues. The youngest of them was the youngest team to start a match on the continent this term, when Patrick Vieira fielded a derby side against Monaco (a 3-1 loss), averaging just 22 years and 284 days. No other side in Europe’s Top 5 leagues fielded a starting XI with an average age under 23 years in the 2019-20 season.
Starting XI vs Monaco