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Lille starlet Ikone has 'no regrets' about PSG exit after scoring on France debut

20:30 WAT 09/09/2019
Jonathan Ikone France
The 21-year-old opened his international account from the bench against Albania, one year on from his decision to leave the Ligue 1 champions

Jonathan Ikone says he has no regrets about his decision to leave Paris Saint-Germain last summer, after he became France’s newest goalscorer.

The 21-year-old forward, now at Lille, came off the bench on Saturday to score the final goal in his country’s 4-1 win over Albania in Euro 2020 qualifying.

He will be hoping to play some part in France’s game with Andorra on Tuesday, and he will likely be feeling that his international exploits have justified the decision he made after making just seven first-team appearances for PSG in his time at the club.

“We can say that PSG train young players very well, but actually playing there is complicated,” Ikone told l’Equipe.

“But the training you get in Paris, it’s the best. Really, I enjoyed my time at PSG. I have no regrets.

“Getting playing time there is difficult, there are really great players there. So, I decided to show my talent at another club.”

Ikone profited from injuries to Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele for his call-up, and described his debut goal as ‘a dream come true’.

Born in the Parisian suburb of Bondy – where Mbappe also hails from – Ikone came through the youth system at PSG after being snapped up from his local club in 2010.

He played four times in Ligue 1 in the 2016-17 season, but spent much of that campaign and the next out on loan with Montpellier.

With little prospect of breaking into PSG’s star-studded first team under Thomas Tuchel, he left last summer and signed a five-year contract at Lille. He shone under Christophe Galtier last season, registering three goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 as they pipped Lyon into second place and qualified for the Champions League.

Lille have started this season in indifferent form with two wins and two defeats from their four games, but will look forward to their return to European football after the international break.

They host Angers in the league before an away fixture at last season’s semi-finalists Ajax to start their campaign. They will also face clashes with Chelsea and Valencia in Group H.

Before then, France will be expecting to beat an Andorra side without a point in the Euro 2020 qualifying group stage, and open up a gap between themselves, Turkey and Iceland at the top of their group. France are ahead on goal difference alone, and will face the pair in October’s international break.