Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said making difficult decisions was “the difference between a manager and a person”.
Ahead of Manchester United’s final Premier League game before Christmas, with centre-back Raphael Varane taken ill and defensive options dwindling, Ten Hag did his best to silence humanity. I tried my best.
With Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez out injured, Ten Hag have made the shock decision to start 19-year-old centre-back Willy Kambwala for West Ham United’s trip to the London Stadium. did.
Here’s everything you need to know about this teenager.
Kambwala had never played a single minute of senior football for United before the game against West Ham before Christmas. The 6ft 4in centre-back signed for the club at the age of 16, arriving from Sochaux in France for £3.5m in the first summer of coronavirus restrictions in 2020.
Khambwala first joined the Premier League side in mid-December 2023, and was on the bench in the 0-0 draw away to Liverpool. Ten Hag did not rely on Anfield’s young players.
While still in France, Kambuwala made one appearance for Sochaux’s B team in the French fifth division, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw against FC Morteau Montrebon in front of 293 fans, but this was a disappointing performance. He is a little different from the other players. -Out Olympic Stadium.
Born in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kambwala moved to France with his family at an early age and represented Les Bleus at Under-16 level.
Kambwala, or Kamsu as he is sometimes called, missed his debut due to injury, but he could have broken into United’s first team sooner had he not suffered his own fitness challenges.
Two weeks into his Manchester career, Kambwala sustained severe ankle damage in a friendly against Salford City (a club co-owned by the former United player), which kept him sidelined for the better part of 12 months. .
The road back to full fitness was a winding one, plagued by nagging issues from an ankle problem.
However, the teenager has been a regular in United’s Under-21 side this year and has twice captained the side to represent the club in UEFA’s coveted Youth League (Under-19 equivalent of the Champions League).
In 2019, Kumbwala was asked to name his favorite football player. Although he declined to reveal his personal preferences, the teenager admitted: “If I had to choose, I would name names.” [Virgil] with van zyk [Kalidou] Coulibaly. These two are the best centre-backs of the last three years.”
A right-handed centre-back himself, Kambwala is comfortable playing in the middle of the defence, as well as at full-back. The influence of Van Dijk and Koulibaly is clear as he is regularly seen striding out from the last line with the ball at his feet. However, United’s young players might want to refrain from praising Liverpool players in the future.
“Football is not just a passion, it is truly a profession,” Kambwala said. Official website In the summer of 2019, he belonged to the former youth team CO Les Juris. “I can’t see my life apart from football. I have so many dreams and goals, and they’re all built around football!”
In the same interview, Kambwala eloquently explained: “Being a ‘football player’ is not just a name given to you because you play soccer, but it is a way of life, and to do that, you must always think about soccer, no matter where you are in the world.” The teenager added: “You always have to ask yourself if what you’re doing is good for football, but there’s no magic. You have to work hard!”