Following in the footsteps of Miralem Pjanić at Metz and newly capped by Luxembourg, 16-year-old Vincent Thill is attracting interest far beyond the Grand Duchy despite being yet to make a senior club appearance.
Name: Vincent Thill
Senior debut: 25 March 2016 for Luxembourg v Bosnia and Herzegovina
Position: attacking midfield
Date of birth: 4 February 2000
Preferred foot: left
They say ...
"At the moment he's not on the same planet as our other young players. It's a pleasure to watch him play. His strength is that he rarely gets beaten in a challenge. The only way to stop him is to commit a foul."
Luc Holtz, Luxembourg coach
"My friends at Metz told me about Thill. I've heard a lot of good things about him. Now he has to know that the rest depends on him having the right determination, mentality and attitude. It's all up to him. Metz suits him. It's the perfect place to make your debut. I know his family. His father played against mine!"
Miralem Pjanić, former Metz midfielder and ex-Luxembourg youth international
"The idea is that, ten years from now, all of Europe knows who Vincent Thill is – not to make him a great young player, but a great player full stop. His humility and those around him make him well-balanced. Coaching this kid is a lot of fun."
Olivier Muet, Metz academy coach
Born in Luxembourg, he started playing at Fola Esch, Progrès Niederkorn, Rodange and Pétange before crossing the border to join Metz aged 11. In February 2015, Thill signed a five-year deal with the French club, currently in Ligue 2.
Thill's parents Serge and Nathalie both represented Luxembourg and his eldest brother Sébastien, 22, also forms part of the national team set-up. Meanwhile Olivier, just 19 and the only right-footer of the siblings, is with the Under-21s. Finally there is Marek, who at six already has a pretty useful left peg ...
Playing style ...
More second striker than playmaker, Thill can operate anywhere in attack. His proficiency at free-kicks – one of his major strengths – is already quite astonishing. In October he scored both Luxembourg goals in UEFA European Under-17 Championship qualifying deploying his set-piece repertoire, from 25 metres against Serbia and from 30 versus Austria.
His coaches emphasise that even though Thill can easily slalom past opponents, he always plays in the interest of his team.
Shades of ...
Thill may not compare himself to Lionel Messi but he admits the Argentinian is his role model. The similarities are clear: small frame, aptitude for dribbling, ball control, left foot. Naturally, many at Metz have also likened him to Pjanić, now with Roma. "In terms of talent and intelligence using the ball, there are similarities," Muet concurred.
Eureka moment ...
On 25 March 2016, Vincent Thill replaced Luxembourg captain Mario Mutsch 69 minutes into the friendly with Bosnia and Herzegovina to become his nation's youngest debutant at 16 years and 50 days. He came on two minutes after Bosnian substitute Pjanić, who in 2008 opted to represent the country of his birth rather than that of his upbringing, Luxembourg.
Best-case scenario ...
Thill is still with Metz's U19s and therefore yet to make his senior bow in Ligue 2. That is expected to follow next season, assuming one of his many rumoured suitors, including Bayern München, have not snapped him up.
He says ...
"The national team is what is going to be the most important thing for me in 2016, it's what excites me most. I have never played with my brother Sébastien, so it's going to be great. Becoming a pro at Metz, let's say around 17 and a half, would also be nice."
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