I’m a big fan of Samir Nasri. He’s certainly two steps up from Aliaksandr Hleb. With his delicate touches, powerful shot and Algerian heritage, comparisons with a certain Juventus and Real Madrid midfielder are inevitable. But if you asked a Frenchman who is ‘le nouveau Zidane’ you’d just as likely hear another name: Yoann Gourcuff of Girondins de Bordeaux.
Or, legally speaking, of AC Milan. Gourcuff is someone – like Glen Johnson – whose big move came too early, and has had to step down to really impress. After only 66 league games for Stade Rennais he moved to Milan in summer 2006, as he turned 20. His skill set – two footed, elegant, sharp passing and deadly shooting from distance – was not unique to him at the San Siro though. Behind Seedorf, Pirlo and Kaká he was limited to 36 league appearances (and only two goals) in his two seasons there.
So in summer 2008 he was loaned back to France, to Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux side. With fellow creator Yoan Gouffran and strikers Marouane Chamakh and Fernando Cavenaghi, Gourcuff is central to the team playing the best attacking football in France. In his 18 league games this season, he has four goals and eight assists. FranceFootball rates him as the fourth best player in the league this season. He has also made his international debut this season, and now has six caps and one goal. C’est magnifique – see it here.
This weekend Bordeaux hosted Paris Saint-German, another side with a sense that this could be the year that the Lyon monopoly is broken. Despite PSG’s big names – Makélélé and Giuly both started – Bordeaux tore them apart. 4-0 was the final score, but Gourcuff scored the third goal, a piece of cool brilliance reminiscent of Denis Bergkamp in his pomp. See it here.
Just one point behind Lyon, and with no need to do well in Europe, this could well be Bordeaux – and Gourcuff’s – year. But if he keeps on doing this well, Milan could well want him back next summer.