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.