In amongst the madness of Marseille’s 3-1 victory over Dijon on Saturday, Boubacar Kamara was a picture of calm. As his side rallied to score a couple of late goals and seal three vital points, he played like a veteran.
On his first Ligue 1 start, the 18-year-old showed why he is considered to be the next big prospect from OM’s youth academy.
Only a year ago, Marseille announced that they had won the race to sign the teenage talent to his first professional contract, beating off competition from the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Dortmund to do so.
“I know there’s a lot expected of me, but it doesn’t scare me. There’s a bit of pressure, but I know what I can do,” he told La Provence a year ago, having just helped Marseille’s youth team to the quarter-finals of prestigious Coupe Gambardella, in which they were ultimately beaten on penalties by Montpellier at Stade de France.
Kamara has largely cut his teeth in the Europa League this season, playing four times and becoming OM’s youngest ever player to appear in European competition, although he was sent off at Vitoria Guimares on an evening better remembered for Patrice Evra infamously kicking out at a fan.
And now he is hoping to play a major role in OM's challenge for the crown, hopefully in central defence - his favoured position, but one he has not yet had the chance to impress in since graduating to the top team.
OM assistant Claude Fichaux says Karama can be the club's very own Thiago Silva, but the jury is still out in this case. Kamara is universally agreed to have a big future in the game, but his best position is one that Garcia will have to decide upon.
In only nine top-team appearances, he has featured predominantly as a holding midfielder or right-back – Saturday’s outing on the left of the defence was one that was not anticipated.
“I see him as a No.6,” Garcia has admitted. “I’ve spoken to him about it.
“I think that he can be better in the midfield than as a centre-back or a full-back.
“He’s got good technique, a sense of anticipation, he can break the lines and he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet.
“Maybe his deficit in speed will see him play less in the defence.”
Rami has also been left impressed with the youngster when he has played in midfield in conjunction with Luiz Gustavo – one of the players of the year in France this season.
Speaking after a European clash against Konyaspor in the group stages of the competition, the experienced defender said, “Luiz Gustavo and Bouba Kamara helped us as a lot. They did a tremendous job in the midfield. Thanks to them, the defence felt more solid. Having two warriors like them is good. Bouba was careful to cover everyone so as not to expose the centre-backs.”
Certainly, last weekend’s outing will have been worthwhile warm up for the teenager, whose season has been interrupted by an ankle injury sustained while playing with France’s Under-19 side in November. He has toiled to enjoy as much regular game time in the aftermath of that issue, which kept him out for a couple of months.
Now back to fitness and back in the fold, the promising young defender finds himself firmly in the spotlight for the first time.
Everything he has accomplished thus far has been taken easily in his stride, but with the climax of the season approaching, the stakes have never been higher for this young defender, who has the weight of a footballing city on his back.
After a successful dress rehearsal last Saturday, it will soon be time for Kamara to justify the hype.