Talent Scout: Marvin Martin, Sochaux

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The Independent Football

If Brazil do strikers and Italy do defenders, then France certainly do number 10's. Few countries have had such an association with them over the years, with Raymond Kopa, Henri Michel, Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane to name but a few. Yet following Zidane's retirement in 2006, the hunt for the next great French play-maker has slowed.

There's been no shortage of potential candidates - Samir Nasri, Yoann Gourcuff and even Bruno Cheyrou, but all have lacked consistency on the big stage. The latest candidate for a role that is quickly being seen as a poison chalice, is Sochaux star Marvin Martin, who announced himself against Ukraine in May, joining Zidane in the record books having scored twice on debut.

Martin's progress has since been cautiously followed by clubs all over Europe, with some waiting for bigger tests of his credentials before making their move. Understandably so, but after signing a new contract last month that includes a release clause in the summer, interested parties have ramped up their scouting, hoping to jump the queue.

However, the 23-year-old only needs to seen a handful of times before its quickly apparent what a talent he is. Technically superb, confident when running with the ball, composed when unlocking defences and with such intelligence in his awareness of team-mates and space between midfield and defence, Martin is a natural number 10.

His five foot seven inch 63kg frame has been of some talk in the last 18 months, but he glides across the surface with such pace and swagger, it's difficult for defenders to draw the ball away from his quick silver feet. Into that mix, Martin has improved his shot selection, making increasingly better decisions and being prepared to try efforts from long range. With almost zero back lift, it's a deadly combination.

Sochaux's failure to qualify for the Europa League this term meant Martin has been starved of an opportunity to show his talent on a bigger stage, but in a real test of his character, he's focused on improving his game ahead of a certain transfer in the coming months. Raw abilities such as quality of crossing and defensive discipline look to be getting better, and it's that desire to keep learning that has impressed so many.

Mavin Martin still has lots to learn and big tests of his talent and attitude await, but the early signs are very promising indeed.

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