Titles, trophies and personal accolades have always been the key sources of inspiration for young players all over the world, but what do you do if you simply can’t lose?
Kingsley Coman has been claiming trophies in Europe like he has a royal birthright to them ever since he made his debut for Paris St-Germain as a 16-year-old. In fact, the Paris-born winger has claimed a league title in every season he has played as a professional, winning two with his hometown club before moving to Juventus to claim another and then on to Bayern Munich to hoard three more.
An incredible achievement for an immensely talented player, but his contribution has not always been crucial to the success of the teams he has played. At just 22, it would be easy to think that Coman is still yet to realise his potential, nonetheless his record speaks for itself, but could it be under threat this year?
Bayern Munich have not been at their best and spent most of the season playing catch up to Borussia Dortmund before a 5-0 thrashing of their title rivals at the Allianz Arena sent the Bavarians back to the top the Bundesliga.
A timely return to form means that seven straight league titles is once again in the offing for Coman and with the ageing process setting for Franck Ribery and the imminent departure of Arjen Robben, a swift rise through the ranks could also be on the cards.
An overflowing trophy cabinet and a changing of the guard might also bring with it the opportunity to stake a claim for a first-team number, something that has so far eluded him at his new German home.
On February 17, 2013 Coman came on for the final three minutes in a 3-2 defeat at Socheaux to become the youngest player ever to represent PSG at 16 years, eight months and four days old. Those three minutes earned him his first league title as the French giants took Ligue 1 by storm.
Coman wore number 38 for his moment of history but it was to be his only appearance of the season as he watched the Parisians wrap up their first league title for 18 years. Three substitute appearances the following season saw Coman once again crowned a champion of France in the number 38 but with PSG’s focus on lavish spending rather than development of young talent, Coman was allowed to leave on a free transfer.
Juventus had seen something in Coman that then-manager Lauren Blanc had not and in July 2014 he departed France with two Ligue 1 trophies and a Trophée des Champions, despite playing under an hour of first team football during his stay.
Coman’s arrival in Italy signalled his first and only taste of life in a first-team number as he collected the number 11 made vacant by the outgoing Paolo De Ceglie.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the transfer was that, despite being surplus to requirements in France, Coman had managed to join another prestigious club that was enjoying a a period of resurgence, having won three consecutive Scudetti.
The likes of Carlos Tevez, Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo made sure that running total soon rose to four but Coman was restricted to a bit-part role in the success, much like he had been in the French capital. Just 20 appearances, mostly as a substitute, and one goal wasn’t enough to satisfy his stay in Turin and he quickly sought a move away.
By the end of the 2014-15 season, Coman was three from three in terms of league titles and had also managed to add the Coppa Italia to his cabinet before the opening game of the 2015-16 season brought with it a Supercoppa Italiana too.
By popular demand, a two-year loan deal was arranged that would take Coman to Bayern Munich and on August 30, 2015 he took flight from Italy, never to return.
Bayern Munich (2015-present)
For a winger wanting to play more first-team football, it might not appear to be the most sensible thing to join a team with Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Douglas Costa already on their books.
It would make even less sense for a player wishing to occupy a respectable squad number and with 10, 7 and 11 taken by the three players mentioned above, Coman was assigned the number 29.
However, under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, Coman – still a teenager at this point – was integrated into the squad throughout his first season in Bavaria and enjoyed a breakthrough season that saw him make his debut for France and finish as runner up in the 2015 Golden Boy Award.
His first major individual accolade was supplemented by yet another league title, his fourth in three of Europe’s top divisions, and a DFB-Pokal.
A young player’s rise in prominence is often rewarded with an improved squad number but with none of the aforementioned competition making way, Coman stuck to his number 29.
His second season, however, did not prove as consistent with injuries and a change in management restricting him to just 25 appearances in all competitions. New manager Carlo Ancelotti had no trouble securing the Bundesliga in his first season, even without a fully-fit Coman, and so the titles kept on coming for the young man. Five from five we are at now.
Now 21 years old and officially a Bayern Munich player after the club agreed to make his deal permanent, the Frenchman produced his best performances to date during the 2017-18 season. He forced himself into Ancelotti’s plans with goals for himself and assists for the players around him until an ankle injury ruled him out until the final game of the season – a surprising defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB-Pokal final.
Not to worry, he already has one of those in the bank, we are only concerned with his league title record and it will come as no surprise that Bayern won it for a sixth consecutive year, matching Coman’s own personal tally. That brings us up to the here and now and the first time in Coman’s career that his perfect record has come under any sustained threat.
Bayern are coming to end of a cycle and it is showing. That might be a good thing for Coman in the long run, with the ageing and departures of senior players bound to open more doors for him, and possibly even a nicer shirt number, but for now the only that matters is his spotless record.
Borussia Dortmund had looked good for the title all season but Niko Kovac’s side have hit a purple patch at just the right time to mount their charge and humiliated their rivals for the crown with a 5-0 demolition last time out. A Bundesliga reckoning is probably long overdue and something that many football fans would take great pleasure in watching – but there’s one player who certainly won’t want it to come anytime soon and his name is Kingsley Coman.