Lying 10th in Ligue 1 after 23 matches, it is fair to say that Lille have not enjoyed the 2012-13 campaign that they would have hoped for. Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Troyes was ultimately another underwhelming result for the club at the Grand Stade, but there were at least signs of hope for Les Dogues' weary supporters to cling to.
A "ray of sunshine" was the description of team-mate Benoit Pedretti and, in the context of Lille's campaign, that's exactly how the 21 minute first-team debut of 17-year-old Belgian attacking-midfielder Divock Origi must feel for the club's fans. An Under-19 international, Origi was introduced by coach Rudy Garcia as his side sought as second-half equaliser and, just six minutes after his introduction, he popped up at the back post to head home unmarked from Dimitri Payet's cross. Garcia's faith in youth was repaid.
The son of former-Kenyan international Mike Origi, Divock grew up in Belgium and played for the youth team of his father's former club Genk, before moving to Lille in the summer of 2010. There, Origi Jr. has progressed quickly through the youth ranks, playing alongside colleagues four years older than him at Under-19 level since his arrival, before moving up to reserve team level at the beginning of this season.
For Lille II, he may have only featured on ten occasions but has made a significant impact. Tall and quick, Origi has operated both centrally and from the right flank, where he played on Saturday, showing signs of excellent technical ability. Indeed, for most of his time at the club, it has been his stamina and general fitness levels that have been the focus of his coaches' attention—with his basic skill set very strong.
After the match, a pleased Garcia was quick to stress patience from the fans, with his youngster's quick impact threatening to set the hype machine into motion, commenting: "I've called upon him occasionally, he has trained with us several times, that's all. He is powerful and interesting in front of goal, but he must keep feet on the ground. There is still a lot of work to be done, especially at the tactical level. He still has a long road ahead of him."
Lille are a side with a proud tradition of developing young talent in recent years and Belgium has been a particularly strong feeding ground. The positive noises coming out of the club surrounding Origi suggest that they may have another future star to add to their ever expanding roll of honour. However, as Garcia suggests, there is a long way to go before we can really tell Origi's true level.
Elsewhere, we were offered a further taste of things to come by another teenager from a famous footballing family as Axel Ngando, the 19-year-old nephew of Cameroon legend Patrick Mboma, scored with his first touch as a professional footballer to earn Rennes a 2-2 against Lorient. An attacking midfielder, Ngando turned his back on Paris Saint-Germain as a 14-year-old to join Rennes and then rejected the advances of Italian giants Juventus in 2011 in order to learn his trade in North-West France. Following his bright start and injury time goal, he looks set for further opportunity in the coming weeks.
Ligue 1 endured a particularly tough January transfer window, given the numerous star names heading for the exit doors. Within days, though, the division has offered a glimpse of a potentially bright future and, despite the recent departures, there is still plenty of senior talent on show. There are now first-team opportunities to be won at many clubs for younger players and the immediate impacts of two teenagers this weekend was the perfect way for French football to start looking to the future once more.
For further discussion on any of the players featured in The Scout's Notebook, Christopher can be found on Twitter -@chris_elastico