Jonathan Bamba set for big campaign after Saint-Etienne return
Jonathan Bamba has been made to wait to make an impact at Saint-Etienne, but after returning from a loan deal at Angers, the Franco-Ivorian midfielder appears primed to make up for lost time this season after an impressive start to the campaign.
The 21-year-old has been with Saint-Etienne since 2011 when he signed as a youngster from hometown club UJA Alfortville, and netted the opening goal in ASSE's 3-0 victory over Amiens on Saturday after being given an opportunity in the Stephanois' first team.
This followed decisive contributions in Saint-Etienne's opening two fixtures as the Greens have emerged as one of the early pace-setters in Ligue 1.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's clash, the youngster revealed how the tutelage of Oscar Garcia is helping him to realise his undoubted potential.
"I am a young player it is very important to me that things are explained well," Bamba began, as reported by Le 10 Sport. "We touch the ball a lot during training, it's great and it gives confidence.
"The coach really wants to work with the whole group," Bamba added. "He sees that I am very involved, and that also helps me.
"If I don't understand exercise or instruction, he doesn't hesitate to take me aside and tell me what he expects of me," he continued. "It pushes me to challenge myself."
Despite making his Saint-Etienne debut back in January 2015, the midfielder has spent the last few seasons out on loan - to Paris FC, Sint-Truiden, and latterly, Angers, where he scored three in 16 last term, contributing two assists.
"The loan to Angers did me good on personal and sporting terms," Bamba continued. "I worked on myself and became aware of my qualities.
"Now I know that I can do beautiful things, and I try and show it on the pitch. I also invest a lot in preparation," the midfielder added. "Mentally and physically, I feel great, I've worked very well."
The France U-21 midfielder opened the scoring against Amiens on Saturday, having also scored the winner in their opening match against OGC Nice and contributing the decisive assist in their 1-0 away win at Caen.
Earlier in the summer, TF1 reported that Bordeaux, Newcastle United and Werder Bremen were interested in Bamba.
Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.