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The SBI View: Move to Lille should benefit Tim Weah in present and future

Timothy Weah finally has his move away from Paris Saint-Germain.

The 19-year-old American striker made the switch to Lille on Saturday, which is a move that will benefit him majorly in several aspects. Not only will Weah get to play for a side that will appear in the UEFA Champions League, but he will be able to fight for consistent first-team minutes with a side off a resurgent rise in France’s top-flight.

Lille finished second in Ligue 1 last season, qualifying for the Champions League while rebounding from a relegation-threatened 2017-18 campaign.

Weah is coming off a second-half loan with Celtic, a move that prepared him for this transfer. He helped the club lift the Scottish Premier Football League title and also claim the Scottish FA Cup, although he did not appear in the final.

After being linked with a permanent move back to Celtic Park, Weah remained in France and will now try to give his former club a run in Ligue 1. Weah is a player who needs minutes to not only grow his game, but to continue to gain exposure with Gregg Berhalter’s U.S. Men’s National Team.

He showed positive moments with the USMNT under then-interim head coach Dave Sarachan, but still remains raw in some areas. Being able to continue his development with Lille, a side with several other young attacking options, should allow him to return to the National Team sooner than later.

Weah’s versatility gives Lille the option to play him on either side of the attacking front, and interchange with the likes of Jonathan Bamba and Nicolas Pepe. The duo combined for 35 league goals last season and are both 23 and 24-years-old respectively.

Ligue 1 may not bring the physicality that the SPFL did, but it is one of the top five leagues in Europe. Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Lyon, and St. Etienne are top sides in the top-flight who will all pose different tests for Weah on the field.

Lille is also a side who has helped develop several star players including the likes of Eden Hazard, Dimitri Payet, Divock Origi, and Idrissa Gueye. All four have developed in professionals across Europe and if Weah makes the most of his time with the club, he could also reap the success that Lille has to offer.

It may be tough for Weah to break ahead of the likes of Pepe and Bamba but due to the club’s 4-2-3-1 formation, he could feature on one side of midfield while Bamba takes the other. All three can interchange as the lead forward which helps Weah’s cause as well to earn consistent minutes.

Signing a five-year deal with the club also shows that Lille is excited and confident in the forward’s potential. The glitz and glamour of PSG will attract many teenagers, but the likelihood of starting with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Edinson Cavani leading the line is slim to none.

Lille’s Ligue 1 campaign kicks off on Aug. 10th against Nantes before Europa League play begins later in the month. We very could see Weah get on the field 20+ times before the end of the calendar year.


  1. Baffling to me that there are still people who think that a player such as Weah, Steffen, or whoever has even a remote chance of becoming a first team player at a club like PSG, Man City, Chelsea, etc, other than on a buy-back basis. That just isn’t what is happening. Total ignorance of the investment process that has developed over the past decade plus. Simply stated– a player who costs less than $20 million is not “in the frame” to make the first team at these clubs. Not today, not tomorrow, not even after a highly successful loan. It isn’t part of the thinking. and it never was. Not sure how this isn’t obvious by now.

    • You didn’t do your homework on Lille. Pepe arrived at age 22 on a 10 million dollar transfer. Ikone 5 million starter, Celik 2.5 million starter, Maia 14 million part time starter, Arajou 7 million bench player. Lille is not in the spending class of PSG, Chelsea, or Man City. They aren’t even at the Dortmund spending level, but a much more similar model, buy promising youngsters and sell them for a profit after playing them in house for a few years. Neither has the cash to buy 15-20 youngsters loan them out and then sell like the mega clubs.

      • Misunderstood your comment then. Seems like a good sign that Pepe was brought in for the same amount two years ago and look where he is now.

      • Haha no worries. My comment was exceptionally poorly phrased and probably misplaced on this article!

  2. The part where many of you seem confused is that one can choose to go to a club where one is wanted as an immediate starter and not just depth. Or one can go to a stacked and successful team. In both cases it will “be on him.” It always is even if he signs in the Icelandic Fourth Division or the EPL. But one situation has risks associated with ambition, while the other the tradeoff is money or likelihood of winning. Some of the value of ambition is being lost right now because the vast majority of leading club players we have are moving, sitting, or on loan. And when your prior problem was playing time one would think that would move way up the list.

    • You do have to remember these guys also really believe in themselves. I don’t think any of these guys from Altidore to Steffen to Weah thought/think that they won’t be in the starting lineup. Steffen knee he wouldn’t get a work permit this year but he I’m sure believes he will be starting for Man City in the next year or two. Weah believes he’s going to play and be successful. He thought he’d play for PSG last year,that confidence is what makes him make great plays on the pitch and also some head scratchers. Time will tell if this move is a golazo or a dud. You mention Adu below it wasn’t just money he was chasing it was also being on a big name club and playing in the CL because he believed that was the level he was. If Weah or anyone has that attitude if I deserve this but doesn’t want to work for it they’ll be in Freddie’s shoes.

  3. I like this kid because at least he doesn’t look for the easy way out and really is ambitious by going for top teams in good leagues where he will need to fight it out at every practice to earn minutes and will have to prove himself over and over.

    He could have opted for more comfortable situations in a 2nd European division or even MLS, but he is hungry and doesn’t shy away from a challenge!

    That’s where JK was right when he was saying our players should avoid “settling” for MLS by returning too early from Europe (Bradley, Altidore, etc…) or by refusing to go when they are young and promising (Morris). It’s make or break sometimes, but the only way to get the the next level ; a very Darwinian way to see who belongs and who doesn’t.

    Step out of your comfort zone and face adversity.

    Good luck Tim!

    • And my post isn’t a Euro-snobbish knock against MLS. Our domestic league has been great at producing talent and helping the sport grow. It’s more about those shining young stars in MLS, which MLS has helped become who they are, need asap to get to the stronger leagues in the world to keep progressing.
      Same thing as and awesome young basketball player in Croatian league coming to NBA to become even better (vs. not becoming all he could if he stayed in his weaker domestic league).

    • All due respect but MLS isn’t exactly friendly to young Americans right now with 8 international slots and 3 DPs. Remember Andrew Carleton? Exactly. And people seem to be missing that Pulisic is being integrated in the NT — but not a list of his talented contemporaries — for a reason, having to do with where their career state is. Sargent plays for The Right Kind of Club and he got left off for “being rusty.” How do you think that happens? I think y’all are confusing politics and capitalism with what’s best in soccer. There is an interesting article with Adu this week where he talks about how he wishes he hadn’t always taken the big paycheck choice.

      • I don’t really think MLS is Carleton’s problem when he can’t even remember to bring his passport for the match in Canada. Now if you want to talk about guys like Acosta, Trapp, and Nagbe that had European interest but were not allowed to go and plateaued at young ages.

    • To me there has to be an “in between” any old MLS team and PSG or Lille. There are 20 teams in France. 20 teams in England PL. etc. etc. The choice is not “Lille” or “quitting.” You can go someplace in the middle where they are like, wow, dude, we will start you. And if he’s that good he would elevate that team.

      • You make a good point Imperative Voice and it’s true that it’s always about that middle ground of playing enough vs. collecting dust on the bench of a more prestigious club.

        Now in the case of Weah I will say that Lille isn’t a high budget club like a PSG for example, and they have trouble retaining their top guys (you can expect a couple to be sold), so that Weah will get playing time – the pecking order won’t be as steep as it was in Paris.

        Add the bonus that Lille gets to play the Champions League, so that young Weah has a major platform to express himself. Lille is traditionally on of those mid-table mid-budget clubs, but they had a great season and next year will try to swing above their weight.
        In that sense I think Lille was a good choice.

        Weah will get his chances, let’s see what he can do with them!

        With greater risk comes greater rewards, too. Aim for the stars Tim!

      • But he does believe he’s going to play and start. Maybe that’s naive, but it’s likely what Lille told him. Lille plays 3 forwards and with Weah’s ability to play all three positions, Pepe and Bambo rumoured on the way out and Remy turning 33 in January minutes will be available if he’s good enough to play for a mid table team he’ll play for Lille.

  4. EMO with the start tonight for atl. I still believe he is the missing piece for the usmnt. Offensive CM with Adams and Mckennie behind him and CP and Weah on the wings with sargent up top is the future.

      • you always learn something. some old U20s can’t do better than USL. if he contributes and his team wins, well, you just learned he’s basically at least MLS worthy. and that is something. it may not be you learning if he is EPL but well I think we already know that answer, right?

  5. Well of course the guy is raw, he is only 19 and a few years removed from amateur football.

    There should be no excuse to continue calling up guys like Jordan Morris (24) and still raw from his decision making displays, e.g., forced passes.

    I’d rather call up Weah vs Morris, who is 24 and still raw after MLS seasoning.

    Who here doesn’t think USSF is still controlled by MLS?!? This is the perfect example.

    • Grow up….that’s a pretty idiotic example! You’re talking about one comparison, a stupid one at that, considering Weah decided he wanted to play in the U-20 WC. What were the other wing options you wanted called in that weren’t? It’s one thing to make factual statements, with evidence to back it up, but quite another to make claims and allegations to support some weird SUM, MLS, USSF fetish/narrative

      • all due respect but mckennie and pulisic are 20 but treated as graduated. even giving a choice implies something about the player. the reality is this coach has given one total cap to sargent and weah since taking the job. while using mihailovic, roldan, trapp, morris, lewis, yeuill, ebobisse, nova, and baird. at a certain point it’s naive to say he had a choice. to me it was when roldan was subbed in as a right wing the last two GC games.

    • Remember four years ago and people would rant and rave about how Morris was our best young prospect and should be called in over veterans because he had more upside even if he wasn’t actually playing. The best thing an US soccer player can do to curry favor with US fans is to not actually play.

      • Didn’t Morris turn down an opportunity in Germany back then?
        Morris was promising and raw, but never really improved on what he was 4 years ago, unfortunately. He refused to challenge himself to something more uncomfortable, and didn’t’ need to up his game to still be a productive starter in MLS. It’s okay people are fine to chose their own way in life, but if your ambition is to progress as a professional athlete, you need to push your limits and seek out greater challenges.
        Would Morris have been successful in Germany? Maybe, maybe not. Unfortunately the opportunity has gone, and now his calling seems lower.
        The USMNT needs players that will seek out the greater difficulty and not seek refuge in secure and known situations.

      • weah, playing for psg and celtic, was averaging a goal slightly over every 100 minutes. don’t be dense. he just didn’t play enough.

  6. Of course. The five year commitment is the big thing. Those strikers that have been scoring will in all likelihood be sold as they attract interest from other clubs. Tim is going to be given a shot when they move on. Up to him. There is a lot to be said for taking steps. Especially for a young player. US Nat fans have little patience, most are emotiionally unbalanced, show incredibae amounts of ignorance and are delusional quite frankly….especially the one’s who reside non stop on social media (the metal sewer of society). Look at Paxton Pomykal. He just stated how good it was for him to learn to be a pro, and how even though not playing all of the time was tough, in hindsight it was the best thing for him. The physical and emotional rigors these kids have to go through are tough. Very, very few can handle it all at a young age. Paxton will be in Europe soon, not as a prospect, but as an expected contributor. He will be a Nat mainstay come this fall. Tim may not get all of the playing time we want this year, but everyhting is in place for him to progress and step in over the next two seasons. I am sure he will. I’d rather have this then have folks blame everyone and everything else for why a player, who we just know would be a star if USSF, SUM, MLS, foreign coaches, anti US bias, etc, etc…was holding them back. That’s for the kids, self loathing, ignorant and emotionally limited/desperate US fan. Tim is being set up to succeed. May take 18 mths but it is there for the taking.

    • The biggest thing ignored by fans is the mental side of development. We can talk all we want about natural talent, coaching, tactics, technical skill etc but mental strength is the #1 factor in predicting success. Being a top level pro at an early age requires maturity, grit and a long term view that most people lack as an 18-21 year old. Takes a special athlete physically and mentally to reach the top.

    • Thank you for preaching that WORD! I have been on record for a minute saying the same things but they fall on deaf ears, or ears that still can’t get beyond a failed qualification and have no interest in supporting this new regime because of the hate for MLS lol. When did we become this nation of fans that think they know it all, think they know more than a manager that gets paid to make these decisions? These same people were saying this team wouldn’t be able to get out of the group at the GC because of the coach, the roster he chose and finally becuse of the results in a meningless set of friendlies where players that didn’t even make the final roster played the majority of the minutes in. As the tourney wore on and the results went against peoples failure wishes, the excuses began with comments diminishing the US’ opponents. It’s sad to think we have a fanbase that wants to see our program and it’s manager fail because we all of sudden have developed an ego that stems from god knows where. “We haven’t won shit”, were the words once uttered by our fearless leader Jurgen Klinsmann and he was right. So again, i’m wondering what have we done to think we should be better than what we are. Players aren’t developing at the rate they should and until we allow them to develop, instead of rushing to usher in youth players to the senior team that aren’t ready, we’ll continue to see players not reach their potential and thus continue to be a Klinsmann punch line!

      • Social Media and YouTube play a big role. Even 10 years ago when Lletget was at West Ham you didn’t have any idea how he was doing just that he played there. Now within hours you have highlights and all touches videos. Of course those never show the mistakes and you lose the concept that their also only playing against other youth players. We’ll see it in the next couple weeks when someone will score hatrick against some 5th division team in a Summer friendly and will become the greatest slight.

  7. Counterargument: second place team that split the season series with PSG, starting forwards had 23 and 14 goals, mostly in league, and the backups had 8 and 7. The 4th best option is Loic Remy. This is implicitly acknowledged by “a side with several other young attacking options” but then the author argues “development.” When he does play he has a strike rate.
    What he needs is playing time.

    • He may not be a first 11 player immediately but they obviously see a development plan for him or they wouldn’t have bought him. It’s really on Tim now to step up and earn his spot. Lille will want their new shiny young purchase with a famous name to succeed. Grind it out in training, earn minutes. Produce when called upon. It’s all set up for him there.


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