Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
M'Baye Niang is pacey, skillful, he tracks back and he has a great connection with Super Mario.
- RF: M'Baye Niang
- CF: Mario Balotelli
- LF: Stephan El Shaarawy
Kevin-Prince Boateng's future belongs in midfield (remember, he's a natural box-to-box midfielder) because he is taking up M'Baye's minutes.
Massimiliano Allegri, think long-term!
By the way, here's an awesome photo of the trio (via registv.tumblr.com).
Niang hasn't scored a goal (from 18 shots) in 12 Serie A games, but he did hit the woodwork against Lazio and Udinese.
Stephan El Shaarawy's offensive numbers were subpar last season...look at him now.
If we are to project M'Baye's future, you have to heavily factor in his raw athleticism coupled with his exquisite skill, meaning he's headed for elite/world-class status from a tangible perspective.
The intangible element is his discipline which could derail his development.
He was one of the five players banned by the French Football Federation for abandoning training camp to go nightclubbing in Paris (per BBC Sport).
Then there was the stranger-than-fiction case of him impersonating Bakaye Traoré after being caught driving without a license, as reported by Metro.co.uk.
Niang cleared things up (by Meytar Zeevi at Rossoneri Blog):
The car incident? I have never pretended to be Traoré.
It was his car, but I had just arrived in Italy and I didn’t know Italian.
I was just saying “yes” to all the questions that the cops were asking me. I admit my mistakes.
I didn’t appeal against the ban that the French FA gave me (he was banned for breaking curfew and partying late).
It’s water under the bridge, and I’ve decided not to go back to doing those things.
Paolo Bandini at the Score shed more light on M'Baye's behavioural problems:
The Caen manager Franck Dumas had gone to significant lengths to try to discourage Niang from just this kind of behaviour.
“One time I asked a friend of mine who is a policeman to stop him outside the stadium,” said Dumas. “I wanted to frighten him.”
Nor have his misdemeanours been limited to driving offences.
Dumas recently recounted the story of how he had been planning to start Niang against Paris Saint-Germain last year, only to find out on the morning of the game that the player had been arrested the night before at a hip-hop concert after a fight broke out.
“He didn’t hit anyone,” said Dumas, “but, as he was a minor, he wound up getting held overnight.”
Niang has shown glimpses of superstar qualities, but his minor wrongdoings are a concern.
Please comment below with your opinion of M'Baye.
Follow me on Twitter
Ranking European Football's 20 Most Improved Players This Season
Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, EPLIndex.com and Squawka.com.