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Wunderkids: Building football’s most exciting young XI – week eight: Etienne Green, goalkeeper

Wunderkids

It is the stuff of management dreams – a blank cheque to build the most exciting young starting XI in world football.

The Wunderkids team, in conjunction with BBC Sport, have come up with 11 players and presenter Steve Crossman will be joined by experts to discuss the latest inclusion, with one new player revealed each week.

The criteria are simple – each player must be young and have the potential to become the next superstar in their position.

But we are not going for the obvious names – the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Erling Braut Haaland or Jadon Sancho – we are looking at the players who are still on the verge of making the breakthrough into the big time.

In this week’s episode we are looking at the goalkeeper position and taking his place in the team is Etienne Green.

Who is he?

Etienne Green in training for England's Under-21s
Etienne Green has made 15 appearances for Saint-Etienne this season and two for England’s Under-21s

You could perhaps say the England Under-21 goalkeeper was born to play for his current club – Saint-Etienne.

Born in Colchester to an English father and a French mother, the shot stopper was named after the city his mother came from.

At the age of 10, Green and his parents left England to move to Saint-Etienne and within a few years he was on the books of the city’s football team.

Standing at 6ft 4ins tall, Green was Saint-Etienne’s first-choice goalkeeper at the start of the season before injury in December saw him ruled out for a number of weeks.

But despite the spell on the sidelines, the 21-year-old is highly regarded by those who have seen him play and is one day expected to become a Premier League goalkeeper.

What does the expert say?

French football journalist Julien Laurens:

“It is a wonderful story. A goalkeeper who went from being a ball boy to one of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1.

“It is a story that needed a bit of luck to happen because his debut in April last year only happened because the number one goalkeeper had Covid-19, the number two was injured and the number three also had Covid-19 so there was only him left. He had a really good game and hasn’t looked back since.

“I think eventually [he will be a Premier League goalkeeper]. He has all the attributes, he is really tall. He is really strong on his line, he still needs to improve on some aspects of his game of course. He has had a bit of injury this season and has maybe not played as much as he and the club would have hoped, but there is no doubt one day he will go to England.

“He might be better to go to another French club first to keep learning in Ligue 1 and then make the move to the Premier League.”

What does the fan say?

Alex, lifelong Saint-Etienne fan:

“It has been kind of tough and frustrating to support Saint-Etienne the last couple of years because the club has been fighting to stay in Ligue 1 for three years now. We don’t have any money so it is very complicated to get good players who can bring us to the top.

“About Etienne Green, it is very significant to get a homegrown talent who has made it to the first team. He is very tall and takes up a lot of space in the goal.

“He is not afraid to go in the air and get the ball. He can make some spectacular stops but he is young so has to be good week in and week out and there is still room for improvement, especially his footwork.”

Wunderkids teamSourced From BBC

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