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Sports Features Sat, 30 Jul 2011

Jonathan Mensah is set to shine in the Ligue 1

Jonathan Mensah – The budding Ghana defender is set to shine in the Ligue 1 with Evian

One of Africa's best defensive prospects will no doubt light up the division as the newly promoted side gears up for a promising campaign at the summit of French football

Jonathan Mensah, one of the rising stars of Ghana that emerged at the 2009 Africa and World Youth Championships continues to be a delight to watch. He is a very composed player and represents a group of true young talents making a case for the continent in Europe.

In less than five years, the defender has developed into a sensation. He quietly went through the junior ranks and that path groomed him to become one of Ghana's potential international talents.

At 21 years old, he is already a starter for the Black Stars. A role he solidified and made his own on a biggest stage of all, at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Prior to the global showpiece, the defender wooed several scouts as a result of his exploits at the Africa and World Under-20 tournaments. He won the ultimate prize in both tournaments.

Credit goes to Ashanti Gold, the domestic league side where he began his career and to Ghanaian coach David Duncan, who brought him to South Africa when he was in charge of Free State Stars. Mensah blossomed with the Premier Soccer League club making 39 appearances with two goals to his credit, and when he left FSS the fans knew he was destined for great things.

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Having watched the emerging star play in the Rainbow Nation on several occasions, Goal.com southern Africa correspondent, Clyde Tlou likened him to the former captain of Real Madrid, Fernando Hierro and one of the best defenders Ghana ever had, Samuel Osei Kuffour.

"I must say I was very fortunate to witness one of Africa's rising stars in action. Calm yet so commanding, he is definitely destined for greater heights," Tlou predicted.

“He reminds me of the Real Madrid's legendary skipper Fernando Hierro, but he needs to gain some flesh and strength which I think can be achieved as he is still young. He is a perfected version of Samuel Kuffour, the Ghanaian who played in Germany for Bayern Munich.”

“Free State Stars are a team known for producing defenders, not signing them. When they brought Jonathan on board I knew he should have some exceptional talent. He was quick to become a hit in the PSL and I am not surprised he is set to play in one of the bigger leagues in Europe.”

Thanks to his solid defensive acumen, Mensah signed for Italian Serie A side Udinese and was subsequently loaned to Granada, a recently promoted Spanish La Liga outfit - thanks in a big part to the Ghanaian and his determined team-mates during the last season. He played 15 games and bagged a goal.

One of the best African defensive prospects is now owned by French Ligue 1 newcomers Evian after he signed a four-year deal with them. The technical eyes at the Parc des Sports made the right choice to beef up their backline with the Ghanaian, however, the TG fans might wonder what Mensah has up his sleeves for them.

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"He reminds me of the Real Madrid's legendary skipper Fernando Hierro, but he needs to gain some flesh and strength which I think can be achieved as he is still young." - Clyde Tlou

Clyde argued that besides his technical abilities in the box, the athletic and strong defender has the potential to fetch the team some money in the near future. “I don't really know much about Evian, but I believe Jonathan can grow into something big. Football is more than just a game these days, it’s a business and the French club will not regret this investment they have made. They are more likely to make big money out of him as big clubs all around Europe would soon come knocking for his signature.”

As far as the Ligue 1 is concerned, the French are currently familiar with a few Ghanaian faces, Olympique Marseille’s dazzling midfielder Andre Ayew and his younger brother Jordan, as well as John Mensah of Olympique Lyonnais.

But if they assumed those are Ghana’s best so far as their game is concerned, then they should hold that thought until the foot battle resumes and take a close look at Evian's recent addition.

Source: Kent Mensah