What is Kingsley Coman’s secret?
His ability is well known. The France forward is the best 19-year-old playing in the world right now.
He has played for Paris Saint Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich before his twentieth birthday.
But it is hardly unusual for a 21st century wonderkids to have done the rounds of Europe’s elite clubs.
No, there is something unique about the way he has made these transfers.
Uniquely he has done so on his own terms at a time more or less of his choosing.
He has been in control of his destiny – it is this that sets him apart.
It is common for elite level youngsters to change club –indeed these days it is more unusual when they don’t. A player emerges, shows promise and is then snapped up by a richer club. It is not a new narrative.
Sometimes a top, top player will have two or three clubs on his CV before he leaves his teens.
But Coman takes this top, top transfer hopscotch to another level.
His talent is undoubted, his skill and speed prodigious by any measure, but the nomadic nature of his career is just as noteworthy.
Since making his debut for PSG in 2013 he has changed club with regularity.
He is PSG’s youngest ever player and the most high profile graduate of their academy in the Qatar backed era. He is also one of the best players to fall through their fingers.
Coman left PSG after just three first team games.
“Newcastle, Arsenal and Tottenham were interested in me but I chose to join Juventus because of their history. It was the club of Platini, Zidane and Trezeguet,” he said after signing a five-year contract with the Italian giants in 2014.
Within a year was on the move again.
“I’m looking forward to Munich and playing for FC Bayern. I want to take the next step in my career here,” he said after signing a two-year loan deal with the Bavarian giants.
Finally, at his third club, Coman has found some stability and a settled platform to let his ability shine through.
He made his full international debut for France against Germany in November 2015 in a friendly which was marred by the Paris terror attacks.
Four days later he was making Raheem Sterling look slow with his Olympian pace against England at Wembley.
A game-saving-cameo in Bayern’s classic-come-from-behind-win against parent club Juve in the Champions League showcased all of Coman’s immense promise.
The skill, confidence, speed and decisive audacity he showed against his parent club suggest this is a player going places fast. It is the apex of his short career.
But at this stage, and let us remember he has yet to play 50 professional games, it must be asked why and how this young tyro has managed to play the transfer game so well.
Young players are increasingly commodified, bought and sold as soon as possible by clubs addicted to the alluring aroma of potential.
Coman has buckets of potential but the fact he has moved so successfully between three of the world’s biggest clubs before his twentieth birthday raises questions.
Why has he moved so regularly? What does this say about him? His entourage? The clubs involved? And elite football in the modern era?
Coman and the people around him, read family and agents, have played the system superbly.
Any transaction involves a winner and loser. In football, sometimes it is the buying club who triumphs, sometimes it is the seller. The player is caught in-between and is occasionally on the sharp end of the deal.
It is not often that a young player holds the aces in these situations and rarer still that when they play their hand it is a winning one. But Coman and his advisers are obviously doing something right.
After two very successful deals they are on an unparalleled hattrick.
Compare and contrast Coman’s fortunes with other itinerant wunderkind.
Raheem Sterling, Isco , Daniel Sturridge are just some of the starlets to have made a trio of transfers in their youth. But their circumstances include elements lack the feeling of control and autonomy that characterise Coman’s movements.
His France teammate Paul Pogba played Manchester United with a confidence and cunning that they were not used to as he wound down his contract before joining Juventus.
But the acrimonious nature of that transfer and the legal challenges which beset Pogba’s first move from Le Harve to United stand in stark contrast to the ease with Coman has changed clubs.
Nicolas Anelka like Coman started at PSG before joining Arsenal and then Real Madrid. The enigmatic Frenchman represented 12 clubs in a career that ultimately failed to reach the heights his teenage promise once suggested.
Coman has bet well so far but he won’t keep rolling sixes. He seems settled at Bayern and the Bavarian giants have indicated they will exercise their option to make his transfer permanent.
The way he has conducted his career is an example to young players in how to handle their business and a lesson to make elite clubs sweat. This is one player who is making the pressures of the market bow to him.
Coman is the best 19-year-old in the world. And the best wonderkid to play the top-clubs at the game of transfers.