Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Don't bury Bleus just yet
by Paul Kennedy, July 28th, 2010 5:13PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  france, under-20 world cup

MOST COMMENTED

[PORTRAITS] A month after its embarrassing exit from the World Cup, France is on the verge of winning in international trophy. Its U-19s have advanced to Friday's final of the European Championship in their category against Spain with an exciting team led by Gael Kakuta and Antoine Griezmann, two players who abandoned French soccer at young age and moved abroad.

Kakuta is considered the best young French player to come along in many years.

His move to English club Chelsea from Lens was the subject of an international dispute that ended up with the young striker being fined $1 million and suspended for four months and Chelsea temporarily being banned from signing any new players.

(Chelsea was later found to have been within its rights to have signed Kakuta, whose aspirant contract -- an agreement to agree -- was not binding.)

Chelsea star John Obi Mikel says Kakuta, born in Lille to Congolese parents, is Chelsea's most skillful player.

"At his age," adds Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, "I've never seen a player with his talent. He's not very powerful but technically, he's ready."

Unfortunately, Kakuta has gotten little playing time on the first team behind such strikers as Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou.

Francis Smerecki, the French U-19 coach, wonders whether it's time for Kakuta to move back to France.

"Gael was asked some questions," he said. "The competition is very strong. He's got to watch out."

Playing time isn't a problem for Griezmann, who has already played 39 games and scored six goals for Spanish club Real Sociedad and helped it win promotion back to the First Division.

Earning the respect of French youth national team coaches was something else. It wasn't until this spring that he made his debut for France.

His development underscores the problem in French soccer, where clubs place a heavy emphasis on athleticism.

The 5-foot-8 Griezmann was overlooked by most French clubs, so the Basque club jumped in and enrolled him at the age of 13 in its youth school. He commuted each day from Bayonne on the French side to San Sebastien, where Real Sociedad is located.

Even in Spain, where a heavy emphasis is placed on skill, the left-footed Griezmann stood out. Scouts from Arsenal and Manchester United regularly showed up at his Second Division games to watch the young Frenchman who models himself after Spanish World Cup player David Silva, who recently joined Manchester United.

He won't leave cheaply. Real Sociedad put a $40 million transfer clause in Griezmann's contract when he signed a five-year contract this year.



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS Trade Central: Friday's deals    
After two disastrous years in England, Brek Shea is back in MLS, signing with expansion club ...
MLS lines up exciting tripleheader for first Sunday    
MLS will open its 2015 season on March 6 when the defending champion LA Galaxy hosts ...
Video Pick: Alex Meier on Fire     
The leading scorer in the Europe's highest scoring league is a player you may not have ...
What They're Saying: Chris Wondolowski    
"I'm not over it. I'm not sure I'll ever get over it. [Pause] I actually think ...
U.S. U-20s win at San Pedro Sula    
San Pedro Sula is no easy place to play as the USA (2-1 loser in the ...
Press and Lloyd combine for all seven in U.S. win    
After a tie and loss in its first two games at the Torneio Internacional da Brasilia, ...
What They're Saying: Juergen Klopp    
"He took a wrong turn at some point. But everything is back to normal now. He ...
TV Report: MLS expansion teams ink local deals    
As expected, New York City FC has entered into a multi-year agreement with YES Network, while ...
Timbers land Wake's Vidovich to run T2    
The Portland Timbers, who dipped into the college ranks to get head coach Caleb Porter, have ...
Veterans in demand as Re-Entry Draft concludes    
Stage 2 of the 2014 MLS Re-Entry Draft offered up fair doses of everything, as did ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives