France international Yohan Cabaye has admitted he battled depression earlier this season, following his first campaign with Newcastle United in the Premier League, Football365.com reports.
The midfielder joined the Magpies from Lille in the summer of 2011 and enjoyed a brilliant first term with Newcastle, as they qualified for the Europa League. Cabaye admitted that not having a winter break took toll on his body and the groin injury he suffered midway through this season helped him cope with the problems he was suffering.
Football365.com Cabaye said: “I am not afraid to say that it was depression. But I was reassured reading the books of Jonny Wilkinson and Rafael Nadal, who both talked about the same thing. My season was long in a league where the pace is higher than Le Championnat. On a morning when I woke up, I could still feel tiredness. I asked myself a lot of questions, but I was not worried.”
The 26 year old is expected to start against Spain in a crunch World Cup qualifier tonight, after overcoming a groin problem, and Les Bleus can take a huge step to automatic qualification with victory at the Stade de France. Spain were held to a surprise home draw with Finland, whereas France beat Georgia 3-1 on Friday night thanks to goals from Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery.
AS Saint-Etienne fought back from two goals down to maintain their unbeaten start to 2013 and hold league leaders Paris Saint Germain to a draw, Ligue1.com reports.
Javier Pastore’s opener and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty looked set to send PSG seven points clear at the top of Ligue 1. However, Alex’s own goal and Francois Clerc guaranteed ASSE a share of the spoils and keep their unbeaten record against the Parisians this season.
David Beckham made his first start for Carlo Ancelotti’s side at the Geoffroy-Guichard, the scene of his infamous 1998 World Cup red card against Argentina. The Englishman played the full game, but could not prevent Christophe Gaultier’s team maintaining their superb start to 2013.
Ancelotti’s men stay five points clear of second-placed Olympique Lyonnais and still look certain to secure their first league title since 1994. PSG face reigning champions Montpellier in their next fixture, with ASSE staying fourth and facing Troyes next weekend.
Sochaux right-back Sebastian Corchia has stated that although he has attracted interest from a number of European clubs, staying with the Ligue 1 side remains his priority, Sky Sports reports.
The 22 year old has drawn attention from Bundesliga table-toppers Bayern Munich, Serie A league leaders Juventus and Premier League side West Ham United among others. Corchia is under contract at Stade Bonal until 2015, but with Les Lionceaux battling relegation, a move away from Ligue 1 could be an attraction for Corchia.
Sochaux signed the defender from Le Mans in 2011 and has made 25 appearances for the club so far this season. Corchia was eyed as a replacement for Bacary Sagna at Arsenal and the French under 21 international admits that he has noticed the rumours, but wants to concentrate on keeping Sochaux in the league.
Corchia said: “Above all, I want to focus on how to get salvation for Sochaux before thinking about me. To join a big club, you have to be steady. However, I feel I have achieved the best season of my career yet”.
By Jonny Chadwick In an interview with Canal last season, Yoann Gourcuff was shown a goal he scored against PSG whilst playing for Bordeaux. Whilst the goal, largely considered the best of his career, was being played through the Lyon midfielder was asked whether he felt ‘far away’ from achieving similar things currently. Gourcuff responded eloquently about rediscovering the joy of playing and his natural spontaneity, but essentially he was saying ‘no’.
The honesty in this admission contrasts heavily with the false optimism permeating responses to questioning of Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll’s form, who have made similar big-money moves. Everyone knows Gourcuff at Lyon has been a shadow of the player who inspired Bordeaux to the 2009 league title, winning the player of the year and goal of the season (for the aformentioned moment) titles along the way.
Of all the players labelled ‘the new Zidane’, Gourcuff is perhaps the one who most resembles the iconic Frenchman: Incredible passing and dribbling ability, an air of grace upon the pitch and, perhaps most significantly in the current situation, a famed introvert. However, the twenty-five year old shows few signs of the mental courage that helped Zidane thrive in Italy, Spain and in the national team.
Arriving on loan at Bordeaux in 2008, Gourcuff had somewhat dropped off the radar. Carlo Ancelotti found little space in the team for a twenty-two year old French prospect with world player of the year Kaka occupying the attacking midfield role. Therefore Gourcuff returned to France in search of first team football. His performances astounded the footballing world, with the Zidane comparisons sounded out in his formative years at Rennes re-emerging louder than ever in south western France.
The following season, despite injury troubles, Gourcuff made the Ligue 1 team of the year and went to the 2010 World Cup with his country expecting greatness. However, amongst France’s poor performances and political problems, Gourcuff was alienated from the rest of the squad, who objected to his quiet nature and felt he was receiving preferential treatment from unpopular coach Raymond Domenech.
Just like when he moved to Milan, Gourcuff had failed to perform under the pressure. At the beginning of the next season, he signed for a Lyon side hoping to win its first title in three years. Gourcuff’s performances in his two seasons at Stade de Gerland, although admittedly interrupted by injury, have been underwhelming.
In 2008-09, Gourcuff managed fifteen goals and fifteen assists for Bordeaux. Last season he scored a meagre four goals and created only five. This season he has made only seven appearances due to injury but has struggled when he has played. There is a growing sense of frustration for those who saw Gourcuff as a twenty-three year old inspire in a similar way to Steven Gerrard at Liverpool, with the grace and skill of Zidane. In the middle of what should be the prime of his career, he is suffering a crisis of confidence that is wrecking his form and wasting a talent that could place him amongst the top midfielders in world football.
Gourcuff’s ability is easily enough to get people to sit up and pay attention. It is once they have their eyes fully focused on him that he begins to falter. This mental frailty is the main stumbling block in him fulfilling his potential. With Lyon struggling to maintain their Champions League place and their position as one of France’s premier clubs, they are in desperate need of some inspiration from their playmaker. Likewise France, a country yearning for its national team to reinstate itself amongst the world elite after two embarassing performances at major tournaments.
With Gourcuff being dismissed as a wasted talent amongst some sections of French football, the midfielder is approaching a situation with no expectations, but plenty to prove. If so, we may see one of France’s brightest hopes rediscover his ‘plaisir sur le terrain’.
Paris Saint Germain are keen to sign Sunderland playmaker Stephane Sessegnon this summer, but will face stiff competition from Arsenal, The Mirror reports.
The Benin international spent three years in Paris before his £6m move to the Stadium of Light in January 2011. Sessegnon has been in great form for Sunderland this season and while Arsenal are considered to be the firm favourites, PSG are interested in re-signing their former player. The 26 year old could be tempted to return to Paris to see his family, who are still residing in the French capital, and PSG owners Qatar Investment Authority will give PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti the go-ahead to make a move for the Sunderland attacker.
Sessegnon could cost PSG £15m and the Parisians are desperate to add players to their squad this summer before the full implications of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulation comes to fruition. Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill has denied receiving any inquiries for Sessegnon and PSG will be eager to make their move quickly before Arsenal have the chance to submit an offer.
PSG currently sit level on points with Montpellier at the top of the Ligue 1 table, despite the millions they spent on player redevelopment both this summer and the January transfer window. Ancelotti has been given the target of winning the title this season and will be looking to strengthen in the summer if PSG reach their target of both the Ligue 1 trophy and Champions League football.
Marseille’s poor quarter-final performance against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, along with a disappointing continental showing by French sides, has dropped France down a place in the UEFA coefficient.
At the start of the season, France had six clubs engaged in European competition with Lille, Marseille and Lyon involved in the Champions League and Paris Saint Germain, Rennes and Sochaux in the Europa League. Sochaux were eliminated in the early rounds by Ukranian side Metalist Kharkiv, PSG and Rennes failed to get past the Europa League group stage. In the Champions League, Lille finished bottom of group, Lyon were knocked out in the second round by fairytale Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia and Marseille suffered at the hands of a free-flowing Bayern attack.
France now sit with a 54.178 UEFA coefficient and from 2013, the third place finish in Ligue 1 will play a preliminary round and an extra play-off round to try and reach the Champions League. The last team to win a European competition was Marseille in 1993, which has worried LFP president Frederic Thiriez. In 2007, Thiriez predicted that a French side would win the Champions League in 2012, but with the poor form, those plans have been revised and the LFP president is not looking forward to difficult years ahead, coupled with the UEFA Financial Fair Play situation.
Thiriez said: “The loss of the fifth place is anecdotal. It was written and inescapable. We still have three, four difficult years to take place before the financial fair play is set up.”
Montpellier are looking for revenge in Sunday’s first versus second clash with PSG, striker Olivier Giroud has revealed.
La Paillade went down 3-0 in the first fixture between these two sides in September, and Giroud, who has netted an impressive 16 in 22 games so far this season, feels his side should make amends for it:
“The difference between us is the first leg. So we have a little revenge to take, even if it will be played at the Parc des Princes and it will be difficult,” he told Eurosport.
Montpellier currently sit just one point behind PSG, and go into the game on the back of seven wins in a row.
French football paper l’Equipe is reporting that Paris Saint-Germain could be ready to offer Liverpool’s under-fire striker Luis Suarez and exit path from Anfield.
Suarez has been caught up in a race row involving Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, and was this week forced into an apology for snubbing Evra’s offer of a handshake in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Utd at the weekend.
With much media attention and criticism heading in the direction of the Uruguay international, PSG are believed to be keeping tabs on the situation, ready to offer should it become apparent that Suarez does not want to continue playing in the Premier League.
The Ligue 1 leaders have previously been in the market for a top class striker, trying to lure Carlos Tevez away from the Premier League.
Marseille forward Andre-Pierre Gignac was the subject of a January transfer deadline day bid from Everton, Eurosport has revealed.
The France striker, 26, has revealed that the deal only fell through as there was not enough time for the southern coast side to sign a replacement, but that he is happy to stay at Marseille until a move to a top club comes in:
“Everton is a top club in England but for me Marseille is bigger and more attractive. I want to play one day abroad but at a bigger club like the Manchester Uniteds of this world.”
Gignac has yet to score in the league this season, in nine appearances, but has been used mostly as a substitute, with Coach Didier Deschamps preferring to play Loic Remy and Andre Ayew.
Inter Milan have given the go-ahead on a potential exit for Italian international midfielder Thiago Motta, following recent reports linking the player with Paris St. Germain.
Motta has hinted this week of his interest in a move to the French capital, and his agent Dario Canovi told CRC Radio that the deal could be set to go through. Talking ahead of Wednesday’s Coppa Italia clash between Inter and Napoli, Canovi said:
“Tonight’s match could be Thiago’s last in the Inter shirt, as the player has given the green light to PSG for the transfer. We’ve not yet discussed financial details with the French club because the two clubs are yet to reach an agreement.”
The two clubs will now have until the end of the January transfer window to find an agreement, with what has been reported as a deal wirth £10m on the table.