A tale of two Frenchmen - Gourcuff and Gignac
It’s a huge shame when a talented footballer suffers a decline due to injuries as well as external problems – one example of this, is 26 year old Frenchman, Yoann Gourcuff. It’s a bigger shame when another footballer of the same nationality and age suffers it as well in the same time period, the case in point being André-Pierre Gignac. 2012/2013 was supposed to be their year, and it still can be.
Both Gourcuff and Gignac announced their names worldwide in the 2008/2009 season for Bordeaux and Toulouse respectively – Gourcuff was on loan from AC Milan at the time with the option to buy, looking to revive his career, and that he did in some fashion with 15 goals and 15 assists as Bordeaux won Ligue 1 for the first time in 10 years. Gignac on the other hand, scored his career best tally of 25 goals as Toulouse finished 4th, with the Frenchman finishing Ligue 1 as top scorer.
Both Frenchmen however, couldn’t repeat the heroics of the previous season due to various reasons, such as injuries and fatigue – Gourcuff had played so much the previous season that he was still tired, contributing to a decent but not remarkable tally of 9 goals and 10 assists as Bordeaux blew their chances of retaining the league, dropping from top spot to an eventual 6th place finish. Gignac, from 25 goals, only scored 11 goals the next season as Toulouse finished in a disappointing 14th place.
Despite disappointing seasons, both players were called up for the France national team for the 2010 World Cup. However, little did they know that disaster would strike as France suffered the most tumultuous campaign in their history with internal problems, fights and expulsions of players. Gourcuff was at the subject of being bullied by his teammates, getting a red card as well in the game against South Africa while Gignac never really impressed when he got the chance.
With the disappointment of South Africa behind them, both players moved on to bigger clubs with Gourcuff joining Lyon while Gignac joined Marseille. However, things didn’t change for the better. Injury problems resurfaced for Gourcuff with managerial changes adding to the troubles – Puel playing Gourcuff out of position – while Gignac’s scoring record was poor, suffering many blips in form with only 13 goals in his first 56 games for Marseille. Both were labelled flops and attacked by fans and media alike.
As both players missed EURO 2012, the chance to get a full pre-season with rest was on offer and Gourcuff and Gignac took this chance with open hands, not suffering any fresh injuries as they looked to finally revive their careers. Things looked bright as Gourcuff put in a good performance, resulting in an assist in the Champions Trophy game against Montpellier while Gignac started the season in goalscoring form in the Europa League. As Ligue 1 kicked off, Gourcuff scored the winner against Rennes in Lyon’s opener to ensure Les Gones got all three points while Gignac continued his good form with 5 goals in 8 league games. The 26-year-olds were finally looking to put themselves back in the footballing radar until injury struck again, for both players. Gourcuff suffered a knee injury while Gignac suffered a broken foot, resulting in the duo being out for months. Both injuries aren’t long term as Gourcuff is back while Gignac will feature again, but it is eerily similar how the fortunes of these two players are so alike when it comes to their rise, fall and revival.
The 2012/2013 season is far from over and with the best part of at least four years left until their thirties, these two Frenchmen can still make it back to the top and live up to their potential.