Almost two years ago he moved PSG star Kylian Mbappe to tears, now Jonathan Ikone from the French sensation champion Lille is apparently on the list at BVB as a possible Sancho replacement. What could Borussia Dortmund expect from him?
“Kylian came especially to congratulate me first in the dressing room,” said Jonathan Ikone in early September 2019 after making his debut for the French national team. The youngster of the Lille OSC played 14 minutes against Albania and crowned his first appearance for the A-selection with a goal.
To the great delight of Kylian Mbappes, who was out due to an injury: “He started crying in front of everyone else and I think he was really happy,” said Ikone, describing the emotional moment.
What made Mbappe react so emotionally to his compatriot’s debut? The answer was a subsequent photo of the two on Instagram, which was garnished with the words “Made in Bondy”.
Ikone and Mbappe have been friends since childhood, were both born in the dreary Parisian suburb of Bondy, grew up there and in the meantime even went to the same school class. Both were united by an irrepressible enthusiasm for football, and both were united by their incredible talent.
Mbappe and Ikone: The dreaded Bondy duo
While they played together in the club, they were always separated in school sports because of their qualities: “Our teachers never let us play in a team,” said Ikone once.
At the time, Ikone, who saw the light of day six months before Mbappe, was even the more promising player. Childhood friend Luigi Palma revealed RMC Sport: “Most of the time we said that Jonathan was the best. When we had tournaments at the sports center, he was like Messi! It looked like he was playing against slalom poles.”
Mbappe’s father Wilfried, who trained his son and icon at AS Bondy, said in an interview with France Football once: “From an athletic point of view, Jonathan was further than Kylian.”
At the age of twelve, Ikone was drawn to the top club PSG, Mbappe stayed with Bondy for three more years and then signed on to AS Monaco – it wasn’t until 2016, six years after they parted ways, that the two were back on the pitch again, lost with the U19 of the Equipe Tricolore with 0: 2 against Spain. It was the last joint appearance to date.
Since last weekend, the buddies have not only been united by their hometown or the fact that they made it into the senior national team. Ikone, who has been with Lille OSC since 2018, is now – like Mbappe – a French champion. The 23-year-old played 37 times in the league just ended and contributed four goals and five assists to the Great Danes’ Ligue 1 coup.
Journalist Fosseux describes Ikone as a tech-savvy, nimble free spirit who can be used both on the outer lanes and in the center behind the tip. “He is very, very fast and can break a defense with his dribbles. He is able to put his teammates in the limelight, he has also made enormous progress in pressing and has a strong mindset.”
In front of the opponent’s goal, Ikone still has room for improvement, he is sometimes a bit too hasty at the conclusion, in the header game he usually draws the short straw due to his height of 1.75 meters.
Does Lille face the same fate as AS Monaco?
Whether Ikone will prove his qualities in the coming season at BVB is currently still completely open. The Ruhr news report that Borussia scouted the national player in detail, but that Ikone is not among the narrower list of candidates for the possible successor to Sancho.
It could still be a few days before Ikone is allowed to deal with a new employer. First of all, it is important to survive with the French U21 national team in the European Championship knockout round in Hungary and Slovenia, in which the team will meet the Netherlands in the quarter-finals on Monday.
However, icon not only has to be patient with regard to the clarification of his future – a joint appearance with buddy Mbappe will not take place this summer. While Ikone is hoping for the “small” European Championship title with the young talent selection, superstar Mbappe should lead the A selection to European Olympus.