Takumi Minamino Inspires Monaco; Lens Unveil Record Buy Elye Wahi

Monaco forward Takumi Minamino dribbles during a match against RC Strasbourg at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco on Sunday.

PARIS (AFP-Jiji) — Lens presented club record signing Elye Wahi ahead of their 1-1 draw with Rennes in Ligue 1 on Sunday, while Takumi Minamino scored twice and grabbed an assist in Monaco’s 3-0 win over Strasbourg.

Wahi has penned a five-year contract with last season’s runner-ups as Lens agreed a fee worth up to €35 million ($38 million) to bring the young French striker to the Stade Bollaert-Delelis from Montpellier.

The 20-year-old scored 19 times in the top flight last term and arrives in northern France as a replacement for Belgium international Lois Openda, who moved to RB Leipzig last month.

“The signing is a strong marker of the club’s ambition,” said Lens sporting director Arnaud Pouille.

“He is one of French football’s most promising players.”

Wahi watched his new side take a third-minute lead against Rennes through Deiver Machado, but the away side equalized early in the second half courtesy of Benjamin Bourigeaud’s penalty after a foul by Salis Abdul Samed.

Andy Diouf hit the bar for the hosts with a deflected effort just past the hour, but Lens had to settle for a point — their first of the season after losing 3-2 at Brest last weekend.

“I don’t know if it’s a good point or not,” said Lens coach Franck Haise, who believes the addition of Wahi will give his side extra options.

“We’re able to do a number of things in attack, but there comes a time you need speed, to attack the spaces in behind,” said Haise.

“He [Wahi] is capable of bringing us things that we couldn’t do. He’s what we were looking for.”

Monaco are the early pacesetters after they swept aside Patrick Vieira’s Strasbourg in one of two games in Ligue 1 this weekend pushed back because of high temperatures.

Japan international Minamino drilled Monaco ahead from distance at the Stade Louis II and then doubled the lead with a header from Caio Henrique’s cross later in the first half.

Wissam Ben Yedder added a third for the hosts after he was set up by Minamino, rounding off a second successive victory for Monaco under new coach Adi Hutter.