Benjamin Pavard is a player, and name, known to football fans across the globe after his stunning swerving volley restored France’s World Cup hopes last Saturday in Russia. Pavard, just 22 years old, has slotted in seamlessly in the right-back position, surprisingly beating out Monaco’s ever-solid Djibril Sidibe to earn a starting berth on one of the strong favorites to lift the “Jules Rimet” trophy. But before he became a national hero, Pavard was a 20-year-old hopeful who was struggling to kick start his professional career during his time at Ligue 1 outfit Lille OSC.
Kicker published an interesting look into the player’s backstory, where Pavard credits former VfB Stuttgart coach, Hannes Wolf, for his development as a player, as the German media outlet note his dedication to his past manager after his incredible finish against Argentina. However, Thomas Hitzlsperger, who used to ply his trade for Stuttgart as well as England’s Aston Villa, is credited with spotting the now-sought after defender during his time on the transfer committee of Stuttgart. Hitzlsperger wrote in the Guardian,
...someone mentioned there was this young defender who was struggling to get opportunities at Lille and that we may want to check him out. So I watched some videos, liked what I saw, and made contact with a journalist who covers Ligue 1 and asked for his advice.
He told me Benjamin was a real talent and the only reason he wasn’t playing at Lille was because the manager there preferred more experienced players. So my colleague went to Lille to watch Benjamin in training and having also liked what he saw, recommended him to our then sporting director.
Then on the last day of the transfer window, Stuttgart’s Jan Stindelmeiser signed Pavard for €4 million. Pavard proved to be a “revelation” whose “technique . . . has always stood out.” In Hitzlsperger’s estimation, “It is remarkably complete for a 22-year-old and one of the reasons why he earned a call-up to France’s World Cup squad.”
For a fee of €4million, Stuttgart could have done a lot worse. With reports circling of Bayern Munich’s strong interest in the player, and the claim of a €35m release clause coming into effect next summer in Pavard’s contract, the club stand to make a healthy profit on a player who’s profile continues to rise due to his stellar performances this summer.