At 26-years-old the man once dubbed the ‘next Zidane’ should be at the pinnacle of his powers with one of the world’s leading football clubs. When AC Milan signed Yoann Gourcuff from Rennes in 2006 they planned on him being there for a very long time and leading them to domestic and European glory. As it was Gourcuff did not have the patience for such a project and instead fought hard to earn a loan move and eventually a permanent switch to French club Bordeaux.
That is when his career truly took off and the early comparisons with Zizou seemed resonate in fact. He starred while on loan in his first season at the Stade Chaban-Delmas winning the Ligue 1 player of the season and helping his side win the title among many other honours in his brief stint at the club. His goal of the season against Paris Saint-Germain was described in glowing terms by former Bordeaux star Christophe Dugarry:
"That goal was no accident." "It showed there was something magical about him. I felt ill when Zidane retired. Watching Gourcuff has cured me. When I see players like him, I feel like a small boy again."
After watching that you can understand why there was such a buzz in France about the talent. He moved to Lyon in a €22 million deal as they attempted to recapture their Ligue 1 crown.
Warning signs over the talented playmakers frail confidence and injury problems had already emerged in his second season at Bordeaux and during the World Cup in South Africa that summer. Those signs were not heeded and since then it has not been the fairy-tale many had hoped for as his career has nosedived.
He has struggled with form and injury but this pre-season was looking like the dawn of a new beginning at the Stade Gerland. He was the stand-out performer of OL’s pre-season campaign and the competition from French starlet Clement Grenier was appearing to have a positive effect on his game. However yet another injury seems to have knocked the final nail in the coffin that is his Lyon career as the club president Jean-Michel Aulas admits he could be moved on to balance increasingly worrying books at the seven times Ligue 1 champions. His wages are high and the club need them off the weekly bill as stadium construction and poor performances have cost them valuable revenue.
Once linked heavily with Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea a degree of realism would imply a venture across The Channel would no longer end up with Gourcuff at one of those clubs. His injury record and non-existent form for the past two seasons make him too big a risk.
His contract expires in 2014 so Lyon are not asking for large sums of money which has seen him linked with a move to fellow Ligue 1 sides. A return to Bordeaux, a shock move to Marseille and even a chance to resurrect himself at Lille are all possibilities but if he was to arrive on our shores who would want him?
Teams such as Everton, Tottenham Hotspur or Newcastle would be the obvious choices but the issue with Gourcuff is the overwhelming ‘Riquelme’ factor that comes with his precocious talent. To implement him properly in your side your entire game has to be played around him and none of these sides needs nor wants a one man operation.
It is growing increasingly likely that this promising career will peter out in his homeland or as some have suggested in far flung Russia; considering his talents it is a travesty but the fact remains most English clubs will avoid the one-time ‘next Zidane’ like a head-butt to the chest; and unfortunately with good reason.
What do you make of Yoann Gourcuff’s career and would you want your team to pursue his signature?
image: © y.caradec