Players can have all the talent in the world but that is never a guarantee that they will make the grade. All sorts of factors can come into the equation and whilst some are solely down to the player, sometimes they have no control in matters. There is no crueller career destroyer than a poorly timed injury, just ask André-Pierre Gignac.
The big forward has won his place back in the French national side but his international recall has been a far from simple journey. Despite his bright start to the season there were those who believed he would never play for the national team again, least of all because of Didier Deschamps, the French manager, and the player not exactly seeing eye to eye.
Gignac’s talent has never been in question throughout his career and even now at the age of 27 there is the sense of unfulfillment when you consider what he could have become. Becoming one of the all-time greats was never a possibility but at this stage he is still to break the one hundred goal barrier in his career. After a rocky start during his early years things started to come good at Toulouse, where he really made a name for himself.
At the end of the 2008/09 season Gignac was on the top of the world. “Dede”, as he is affectionately known had just finished the Ligue 1 season as the division’s top scorer. He narrowly missed out on being named as the league’s player of the year and he had won his first cap for France earlier in the year. The following season was very much injury hit and although he finished as Toulouse’s top scorer there was widespread concern that he may not be able to return to the lofty heights he reached the previous season.
His move to Marseille brought just 14 goals in his first 54 appearances but last year he looked like he could be getting close to his best with 18 goals in all competitions. He has started this season brightly with three goals already, making him the league’s second highest scorer behind Monaco’s Emmanuel Riviere.
He will be competing with Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud for a starting place in the upcoming qualifiers and the latter has made a terrific start to the season with Arsenal. Giroud, like Gignac is a tall, powerful forward with a surprising level of technical ability, showing how modern forwards have developed. Both are still behind Benzema in the pecking order who has continued from where he left off last season.
Lyon youngster Alexandre Lacazette has missed out this time and if Loic Remy hits form at Newcastle he may work his way back into contention but these seem like the strongest three strikers France has right now. Gignac has worked hard to get into this position and it is promising to see that he and Deschamps have put their differences aside.
It was under Deschamps at Marseille where Gignac endured his most torrid season but the national team manager has already spoken about how they’ve moved on.
“This is a player who has a good efficiency and may have a role to play. When I was coaching in Marseille, we had some relationship problems. After that, several months have passed. We talked again later. This is not something that would have caused me to not select him.”
It is great to see that not only are the lines of communication have been re-opened but that Deschamps is hinting that Gignac may be involved. The player himself will be determined not to just make up the numbers and play second fiddle to Benzema. As far as he is concerned he is there to stake his claim to lead the line for his country. A couple of seasons ago he wouldn’t have even thought about this responsibility but he is a very different player now, and he deserves his chance.
Peter Sharland, Get French Football News