Raphael Varane has the attributes to be a future Real Madrid captain according to one precocious French talent whose path has taken a slightly different route to his former Lens club mate.
Gael Kakuta has just ended an eight-year spell with Chelsea by signing for Europa League champions Seville after finally being able to showcase his talents over the course of the season with Rayo Vallecano in La Liga last term.
Kakuta, now 23, was tipped as one of the game's brightest talents when Chelsea broke FIFA regulations to sign the attacker from Lens, a club where he progressed through the youth ranks of alongside the current Madrid defender.
The winger had all the hype of Varane but has failed to live up to it, getting little trust with the Premier League club and being sent out to loan spells to clubs including Bolton Wanderers, Lazio and Vitesse before finally finding his way to Vallecas and a permanent switch to Unai Emery's side this summer.
Varane followed Kakuta out of Lens four years later and has enjoyed much brighter success, continuing his development with the ten-times European champions and lifting the club's tenth Champions League title in Lisbon last year aged just 21 and completing the full 120 minutes of the final.
The former Chelsea man will hope to face his former Lens clubmate in La Liga next season and says his success has been no surprise. "I knew him because when we started playing for Lens we traveled together because we were both from Lille," said Kakuta. "He was younger than me but I knew him a bit. There was a bus coming to take us from school and to training, sometimes he went along with his family."
"He was very quiet so I was not expecting him to go that far but when I saw him play for Lens he just didn't lose the ball. He was playing in holding midfield and centre-back and he did just not lost the ball. When I first represented France at international level in the youth categories I saw him there too and when I saw him play I knew he would be a top player. It's not a surprise to me how well he has done."
Varane has enjoyed gradual progression at Madrid during the four years at the club. Both Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti trusted him in the biggest matches, with Varane shining in games such as the Champions League clash with Manchester United and Copa del Rey double-headers with Barcelona and he continued that progression last season.
Only Marcelo played more minutes at the back over La Liga and the Champions League, with Varane playing more than both Pepe and Sergio Ramos but part of that was down to injuries suffered at different parts of the season by Madrid's previously unbreakable back two.
Now, after a solid campaign in the heart of the Madrid defence, new coach Rafa Benitez could use him as one of the first names down on the teamsheet to form the future of the club and to fend off interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, two clubs that have been keeping track of his situation in the Spanish capital.
Varane also became France's youngest-ever captain this season at the age of 21 when he was handed the captain's armband in a 3-0 victory over Armenia. He had made just 15 international appearances for his country.
The Frenchman is set to be pivotal in Madrid's quest for trophies and France's quest to win Euro 2016 on home soil and Kakuta believes that captaincy can transcend to the surroundings of the Santiago Bernabeu in the future.
"Since he was young he was very quiet and I would say he's a very clever guy too," he said. "He's avoided a lot of off-the-field things, like talking to the press and being in the press for the wrong reasons, so he knows what he's doing and I think he'll be a great captain and possibly in the future for Madrid too."