The lowdown on Carlos Baleba

We get to know what our new midfielder has to offer.

By Richie Mills • 31 August 2023

By Paul Hazlewood
Carlos Baleba made 21 appearances for Lille last season.

New Albion signing Carlos Baleba has similar qualities to former Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma.

That is according to sportswriter and football podcaster Andrew Gibney, who has followed the 19-year-old’s progress since he joined Lille in January 2022.

The Cameroonian, who signed a deal until 2028 with the Seagulls, made his professional debut just over a year ago for the French side, but his quality has already drawn comparisons with Bissouma – who was a fan favourite at the Amex before his move to Tottenham last summer.

“Carlos is a high-energy, but very raw, young midfielder. He has the potential to be whatever he wants to be. In his brief time at Lille, he's played as a defensive midfielder, in the box-to-box role, and even last season, against Marseille as a centre forward,” said Gibney.

“Right now, his strengths are his speed, aggression, desire to chase down the ball and put in 100% for his team. At the end of last season, he was utilised as a forward as manager Paulo Fonseca tried to stop Marseille from passing out from the back.


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Baleba's first Albion Interview

“Baleba harassed their back line for more than 60 minutes, even forcing the away side to concede a penalty as his pressing forced Marseille into a mistake.”

He added: “Yves Bissouma is the most obvious player he is most similar to. I'd say they have a lot of similarities, but Carlos looks a tad more agile in possession.”

Like the ball-winning Bissouma, Baleba made his name at Lille and both started off their careers in West African academies; the former caught the attention of French scouts after playing in Mali’s Jean-Marc Guillou Academy and the latter progressed up the ranks at EF Brasseries du Cameroun. 

The teenager, who played 13 times for Lille’s B team, also has a number of strengths in different areas of the game. 

“He's always provided a level of athleticism which has sometimes been lacking from Lille's midfield,” said Gibney, who has followed French football for nearly 20 years. 

“Also, he's not afraid to push the game forward, playing on the front foot and spreading the play. He's not as creative as someone like Lille's Angel Gomes, but he's not looking to just play an easy five-yard pass.” 

By Paul Hazlewood
Carlos Baleba became our sixth signing of the summer transfer window.

Over the past year, the left-footed Baleba has ranked inside the top 10% of central midfielders per 90 minutes in the top five European leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain) for shots, successful take-ons, progressive carries, fouls won, tackles, and blocks. 

However, despite making 23 appearances for Lille, he has started just eight games in all competitions. Although Gibney believes he needs more matches to test his credentials, Albion have a big talent on their hands.

“His biggest weakness is his inexperience. He’s only started a small amount of games for Lille and only completed 90 minutes once,” said Gibney. “It is hard to predict how he will do [in the Premier League] because of that."