Thick smoke poured from the burning wreckage of Pierre-Gabriel’s Audi RS4 after an assault in the Pontanezen region of the city that left the 22-year-old with bodily harm and the vehicle, which was worth around $80,000, unrecognizably charred.

The youngster had said he was “very happy” to be starting a “new adventure” in the French top flight when he arrived on loan from German Bundesliga club Mainz two weeks ago.

Brest said in a statement: “He was the victim of assault and battery before his car was set on fire and completely destroyed.

“Stade Brestois 29 strongly condemns this event and gives its full support to Ronael. It is unfortunate to see that incidents of this kind have occurred against a boy who has only arrived for two weeks and has not had any trouble with anyone.”

One fan called the incident “absolutely crazy” and “absolutely horrific”, asking French football expert Robin Bairnier whether criminals could have had any motives to carry out the chilling attack.

“None whatsoever,” replied Bairnier. “Wrong place, wrong time maybe.”

A stunned local resident said: “Police can’t watch criminals who operate 24 hours a day. They can just attack a car, throw a Molotov cocktail.

“All this can happen in a couple of minutes,  so how can responsible residents or police stop criminals?

“With social media, they get public attention. For people who never get attention, committing crimes is a very easy way to attract it.”

Others warned that serious crime was becoming commonplace in the city and across France while offering the player their sympathy.

Pierre-Gabriel showed his promise at Saint-Etienne before briefly moving to Monaco. He has made eight appearances for Mainz since 2019 and is expected to make his debut for Brest, who finished 14th in Ligue 1 last season, later this year.

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