Neal Maupay was the baby-faced darling of the French league when he was 16.

He looked destined for greatness as he burst on the scene in a nation which produces a wealth of young talent.

There was a mystique and a magic about him.

He was the boy from Paris – specifically Versailles, most famous for its royal palace - with an Argentinean background but dazzling on the Cote d’Azur.

That was almost seven years ago, playing for Nice. It feels a lot longer.

Especially for those like beIN Sports commentator Julien Brun, who has followed his career in Ligue 1 and the Championship.

That is why there some surprise and delight across the Channel as news broke that he has made it to the Premier League on a four-year deal with Albion.

Maupay, who turns 23 next week, made a big impact at Nice before injuries curtailed his progress with St Etienne and Brest.

Brun told The Argus: “He was really the wonderkid when he started in the French league “It seems a long time ago because he kind of disappeared.

“He was the young kid who everyone loved.

“Everyone will see this news and say ‘I remember him when he started’.

“He was so young, He was 16. He still had acne.

“He had a teen’s face, a baby face, but was a good player so I think he has a very good image from our point of view in France.”

It is seven years since Maupay made his top-flight debut with Nice.

Lebrun said: “There were really big expectations.

“That was among the experts, the specialists and also all the football fans.

“He was interesting as a player.

“He is French, he played for the French youth teams.

“But his mother is Argentinean and, when you’re a footballer in France and you are Argentinean, you have plus ten points, I might say.

“He started to play and started to score.

“The thing with Nice which was quite impressive was he was playing regularly at a very young age.

“He wasn’t just coming on as sub sometimes, he was starting games.

“He wasn’t one of the top 11 but he was one of those 13 or so they could always count on.

“After that, he had injury problems and never seemed to completely recover.

“He left Nice, he went to St Etienne where he was fourth or fifth choice so he didn’t have a lot of playing time.

“We have had players like him, like Laurent Roussey and Laurent Paganelli, who were young and great players at St Etienne but who had injuries which really compromised their careers.

“He maybe had a decent season at Brest but he really had to restart.”

Maupay briefly worked at St Etienne under ex-Albion boss Oscar Garcia, who describes him as an intuitive goalscorer and a great competitor.

Oscar wanted to keep him but recalls Maupay being unsettled.

A move to Brentford was a brave one which took him out of the spotlight in France.

Brun said: “Everyone thought it was a clever choice to have a fresh start.

“But not many people in France follow the Championship.

“My company have the rights to the Championship so we could see he was scoring a lot and was quite important in his team.

“But, to be honest, while he hadn’t exactly been forgotten by a lot of people, I think when they see he has been transferred for 20 million euros or something like that it will be quite a big surprise for a lot of people.

“They will want him to do well.”