Jules Keita: 'Baba Neymar' takes Ligue 1 by storm
Jules Keita earned the nickname 'Baba Neymar' when playing on the streets of Conakry, and after being signed by Dijon this summer, he's already begun to live up to his moniker in the French top flight.
The forward was arguably the outstanding player of the Ligue 1 weekend when delivered a mesmerising display as OGC Nice were eviscerated 4-0 at home on Saturday.
In only 24 minutes, the wonderkid scored twice and contributed another assist as Dijon secured the most shocking result of the season so far.
The sensational cameo marks a stark change of fortunes for Keita, who until being signed by Dijon in July, had been without a club for over a year after being deserted by former agents, according to reports in France [as per the Gazzetta].
The youngster was a victim of the financial implosion of Corsican side SC Bastia, who were relegated to the fifth tier of French football and lost their professional license after falling into financial difficulties.
The contracts of their entire playing staff were ended, with Keita forced to return home.
He maintained his fitness by playing on the streets of the Guinean capital, and after receiving a tip-off, Dijon sent a scout to watch him in action.
That was back in April, and he penned a three-year contract three months later, and made his debut on the opening day of the season against Montpellier.
He followed that up with a three-minute showing against Nantes, where he barely had the opportunity to allude to the talent that would demolish Nice just over a week later.
The two sides were level when Keita was summoned from the bench in the 66th minute; a minute later they were ahead when Morocco's Nayef Aguerd marked his own debut with a goal.
After that, it was the Keita show, with the 20-year-old demonstrating the kind of technique and invention that had prompted parallels with Neymar back home.
He contributed an assist for Oussama Haddadi in the 83rd minute as Nice, pouring forward in search of an equaliser, left space in behind, and then added a third himself three minutes later after some sensational footwork to get him past a trio of Nice defenders.
Completing the rout, and capping off a sublime cameo, he netted Dijon's fourth in the 92nd minute.
It was a scintillating showing, with Nice appearing incapable of contending with the wideman's technique, let alone his pace and directness.
"He's an attacker who can play down the left or the right channel," Dijon recruiter Loic Chalier told the club's official website.
"He has a certain ability to eliminate the opponent during the one on ones in tight spaces," he added. " He's a very interesting player, with big room to progress, and that really appealed to us."
Keita is also ambitious too, claiming after his showing against Nice that he "can be greater than [Neymar], God willing."
The talented wideman may still be an unfamiliar figure in French football, but he's already featured for Guinea at various youth levels, and represented the Syli Nationale at the 2015 U-17 African Championship and the U-20 World Cup last year.
His unorthodoxy in possession, and his sinuous ability to beat defenders, prompt parallels with Stade Rennais and Senegal wideman Ismaila Sarr, another player who was, until relatively late, still learning his trade in Africa.
Dijon are one of Ligue 1's more modest clubs, and are learning to rely on savvy and creative recruitment in order to compete with the division's bigger clubs.
Julio Tavares, and lately, Senou Coulibaly and Aguerd, are African talents who have been spotted by Dijon and can help them punch above their weight in the top flight.
Their shocking 4-0 triumph in Nice is evidence of their progress, and Keita, who will get to face the original Neymar when Dijon host Paris Saint-Germain in December, has the potential to be one Ligue 1's next breakout stars.