In one of his first interviews with the press since joining the West London club, Brentford’s Yoann Barbet has caught up with Get French Football News. The ex-Bordeaux centre-back, who signed on a four-year deal from Ligue 2 side Chamois Niortais, speaks to us about his career in France, his move to England and his hopes for the future.
So firstly Yoann, you recently had a very good 2014-2015 season as a Chamois Niortais player, what did you learn during that season, and more broadly what did you learn in Ligue 2?
I think firstly that I matured as a result of the fact that I was able to play games regularly. For me, playing 33 matches in my first professional season was really satisfying.
I had to learn to adapt to the speed of the game and to the physicality of the players, because I noticed that there was a big change in those aspects from CFA (fourth-tier football) and that made the game a lot quicker, most obviously in the final-third of the pitch – you’ve always got to be alert and I made a lot of progress in that regard. But I quickly adapted to the standard of Ligue 2.
Quite fairly, a lot of Chamois Niortais fans have said that you replaced Nicolas Pallois ( the experienced centre-back who left the club for Bordeaux some weeks before Barbet arrived at the club) – as a twenty-one-year-old who had only recently joined the club, was Pallois’ role especially difficult for you to fill?
Yes I replaced Nicolas Pallois, who’d had a great season with Chamois Niortais the season before I joined the club. Everyone told me that he was a very good player. I didn’t feel any particular pressure upon me, but I wanted to show the supporters and above all the coaches at the beginning that although they were losing a good player they were also gaining a good one! (he laughs)
I tried to do my best, and thanks to my teammates, the coaches, the technical staff and the medics at the club, I think I was able to have a really good season.
Why did you choose to move to England, and more particularly, why did you decide to join Brentford FC?
I chose England simply because I’d always dreamt of playing in this country, and they have one of the best leagues in the world and the people over there live for football. The stadiums are full, the atmosphere in the air is really excellent and the standard of football is higher. I think I can make enormous progress and take my career in a new direction over there.
I chose Brentford because they showed a real desire to bring me here, and the sporting project they have in place here really pleased and interested me. I’m hoping to spend some really good years here at Brentford and above all achieve the objectives that the club is focused upon attaining. Also last year they had a really good season and they almost won promotion to the Premier League, so I couldn’t wait to take part in the project that they have in place here.
So Yoann obviously you have signed a four-year deal with Brentford, at the moment what are your ambitions with the club?
I already want to participate in the most amount of games possible, and to have another full season like I was able to have with Niort. Afterwards I really hope to be able to go up to the Premier League within the four years that I am contracted to at this club. I think it’s the best league in the world and it would be a dream to play in it. I also want to win titles here or go on big cup runs.
Finally Yoann, for the Brentford supporters, could you compare your style of play with any other players that are currently playing in England today?
It’s difficult for me to compare myself to other defenders playing in England, simply because I’m left-sided and I don’t know many other left-footers in England, and I wouldn’t be bold enough to compare myself to one player or another at the minute, because I’m not yet at their level.
But I can say that my style of play is based above all on pushing forward to help the midfield, stepping in to break up play, and the fact that I’m left-footed and that I’m good at playing long-balls forward allows to me stand-out a bit from other defenders. I also really like to put tackles in and that should please the supporters (he laughs) – they’ll judge me themselves when I get the chance to play!