Enzo Le Fée: The hometown hero behind Lorient’s Ligue 1 resurgence by Shay Hicks
Name: Enzo Jérémy Le Fée
D.O.B: 03/02/2000 (22 years old)
Height: 170cm (5’7″)
Strong Foot: Right
Current Club: Lorient
Position: Centre Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder
Value: £10.5m (via Transfermarkt)
Enzo Le Fée is a young French central midfielder, currently enjoying the best season of his young career with his hometown side Lorient. If you have read my article on fellow Lorient prospect Dango Ouattara, then you will know that this squad is full of promising young talent, and Enzo could potentially be the best of them all. With his smaller stature, impressive range of passing and tactical nuance, Enzo is regularly compared to top midfielders such as Marco Verratti and more recently Enzo Fernandez. Whilst that is extremely high praise, in this article I will outline exactly why Le Fée has earned such high comparisons so far in his young career.
Enzo was born and raised in Lorient, and his first steps into football were with the local youth academy La Vigilante FL Kéryado in 2005. After 3 years, he was picked up by Lorient to play and train in their youth system. He would slowly work his way up the ranks, before eventually earning his professional debut for Lorient B, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 loss to ACBB. He was given his first string of regular game time at the start of the following season, and his impressive performances earned him his first professional contract as an 18 year old in November 2018. After establishing himself as a reserve side regular, Le Fée was called up to the senior squad for the first time towards the end of the season and would make his professional debut as a sub for Lorient in a Ligue 2 match versus FC Sochaux- Montbéliard (more commonly referred to as Sochaux). The following week he was given his first start, playing just over an hour in a 3-2 win against Le Havre. His hard work over the 2018/19 season was recognised by the French FA, and he was subsequently given his international debut as a substitute for the French u20s against Croatia.
The 2019/20 season was truly Enzo’s breakout season. He established himself as a first team regular, making 26 appearances and providing Lorient with a centerpiece in midfield. He primarily played as an attacking midfielder, occasionally showing glimpses of his potential by providing 2 assists and making a number of solid performances. Lorient earned promotion back to Ligue 1 in April of 2020, after the season was cut short to Covid-19.
Despite the step up in competition, Enzo had done enough in the previous season to earn a regular position in Lorient’s starting 11 for the 2020/21 season. He made 36 league appearances including 21 starts and showed his versatility by appearing in attacking midfield, centre midfield and even as a wide midfielder on occasion. The young Frenchman was rewarded for his impressive first season in Ligue 1 with several appearances across France’s under 21 and under 23 squad. He was even given a spot in the French squad for the Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan. He started their first game and went on to make a further 2 appearances off the bench, although they unfortunately failed to make it past the group stages.
The 2021/22 season was more of the same for Enzo. He finally managed to score his first goal for the club in late August, in a 3-1 loss to Montpelier. He continued to make his presence known in the midfield with several good performances which lead to regular appearances for the French under 21’s as they made their bid to qualify for the European Championships. Enzo contributed to their qualifying efforts with 3 goals and 1 assist in 6 total appearances. Le Fée managed to improve his overall performances for both club and country during the season, and finished the year with 2 goals and 3 assists in 36 total appearances for Lorient. He showed his durability despite his small frame, only missing out on 2 matchday squads over the entire Ligue 1 season. So far in the 2022/23 season, Le Fée has become one of the faces of Lorient’s surprising run of form, already besting his goal tally and notching 3 assists under new manager Régis Le Bris (Le Bris took over in June of 2022, but has clearly made vast improvements to the team after training with them all summer). Le Fée’s amazing ability combined with him being a local, homegrown talent has turned him into a fan favourite for Lorient, and it is easy to see why they have taken to him so well. Whilst he still has a long way to go if he is to meet the lofty expectations placed on him, Enzo has done well to make a name for himself and force himself into becoming one of the first names on the team sheet for Lorient.
Notable dates in Enzo Le Fée’s career:
14/04/2018 – Makes his debut for Lorient B
12/05/2018 – Scores his first goal vs Rennes B
13/11/2018 – Earns his first professional contract for Lorient
10/05/2019 – Makes his professional debut for Lorient as a substitute
17/05/2019 – Makes his first start for Lorient
06/09/2019 – Makes his France u20s debut
30/04/2020 – Earns promotion to Ligue 1 with Lorient
23/08/2020 – Makes his first Ligue 1 appearance
16/07/2021 – Makes his France u23s debut
22/07/2021 – Makes his international debut as a member of the French Olympic team
22/08/2021 – Scores his first ever senior goal for Lorient
02/09/2021 – Makes his France u21s debut
11/11/2021 – Scores his first ever goal for France
Match Analysis – Strasbourg vs Lorient, 13/11/2022:
– Started in midfield but had the freedom to drift forward frequently
– Liked to operate in the wide areas, usually on the left side of the pitch
– Played well in tandem with left midfielder/winger Theo Le Bris
– Able to carry the ball forward himself if a pass isn’t available
– Furthermore, makes smart decisions on the ball and doesn’t force passes that aren’t there
– Struggled slightly to assert himself on the game in the first half as Strasbourg had the majority of possession
– A reasonable threat from corners and long set pieces
– Struggled defensively at times, often beaten too easily by attackers and losing duels
– Very accurate short passing, although I would’ve liked to see him be slightly less conservative with possession at times
– Looked alert and communicated well with his midfield to hold their shape in defense
– Was eager to get forward and punish Strasbourg on the counter attack in the final 10 minutes as they chased a winning goal
The images above show a good example of Le Fée’s positive, attacking mindset. He collects the ball deep in his own half, avoiding a challenge before carrying the ball around 40 yards forward. He plays a short pass which is deflected up into the air before the attacker can secure possession, but Enzo works hard to make a solid challenge and play the ball back towards his own team in the middle of the field.
Whilst he didn’t have the best game in this aspect, this is a great example of Enzo’s set-piece ability. He plays a very good ball into the box, driven yet accurate enough for an attacker to make an attempt at goal. Unfortunately, in this case, the attacker’s header floats across the goal and goes wide for a goal kick.
Here, Enzo collects a short throw and shows off his strength and balance by holding off a strong challenge from the Strasbourg defender. He beats his man whilst dribbling across the pitch. He eventually plays a short pass to an attacker on the edge of the box, but they ultimately lose possession.
In what was a frustrating result overall, Le Fée displayed many of his best qualities at times throughout the match. He showed excellent poise and decision-making when being pressed by the opposition, often making the smart decision and retaining possession instead of wasting it. Whilst I do think he has the technical ability to pull off difficult passes, he tended to stay patient in possession and waited for the right opportunity to present itself. He lost the majority of his duels in one-on-one situations, yet he still stayed tenacious when pressing and managed to recover the ball well frequently. On top of this, he always looked to play the ball forward instantly after retaining possession. He did struggle with oncoming attackers when isolated, but he still performed reasonably well on the back foot and worked hard to keep his midfield’s shape in defensive scenarios. Overall, whilst his team could have performed better on the night, Le Fée still had his moments and displayed why he has been considered as one of the best midfield players in Ligue 1 so far this season.
Players in Enzo’s mould are a hot commodity in the modern game, so it is no surprise that many football clubs’ fanbases are desperate for their teams to make a move for Le Fée. Despite their success in the first half of the season, it is hard to believe that he will stay past the current season, and he could even make a move in the current January transfer window. Whilst he may not make an immediate impact, a top team could easily take a chance on his potential and make a move for the young Frenchman, especially since he could be a cheaper option to other top midfield prospects. Many could argue that his physical disadvantage would prove costly in other leagues, I believe it wouldn’t be a huge issue if Enzo is inserted into the right situation and used in the correct manner. If you can place a strong ball-winning midfielder next to him, there is no reason why he wouldn’t thrive in any squad. Even if he decides to stay with his hometown team for another season after this, I am looking forward to watching Enzo grow into a true game-changer in the near future.