In a five part series, GFFN Chief Features Writer Eric Devin names his top five flops of the Ligue 1 2015/16 season. Next up is Mathieu Valbuena.
Club: Olympique Lyonnais
From: Dynamo Moscow
As a long-time Lyon observer, I had my doubts about the arrival of Mathieu Valbuena, given his age and time away from top-level football.
Yes, a return to French football was welcome, but seeing the mass exodus from Dynamo that has occurred and their perilous situation, one wonders about Valbuena’s true motivations.
Upon landing at Lyon, he was deployed behind a front two of Nabil Fekir and Alexandre Lacazette, but given the similarities between he and Fekir in terms of their proclivity to run at opponents with the ball, the adjustment was difficult.
After Fekir was injured whilst playing for France, things went from bad to worse for Lyon, the team slumping badly before Bruno Genesio replaced Hubert Fournier.
Genesio’s switch to a 4-3-3 looked tailor-made to get the best out of Valbuena, as he had enjoyed his best days at Marseille and with Les Bleus in that set-up, but instead the youngsters Maxwell Cornet and Rachid Ghezzal were preferred.
Injuries and the ubiquitous sex tape scandal surely weighed heavily on the player’s mind, but at 31, with his pace already diminishing, even had Valbuena stayed fit and out of the news for other reasons, his best days are almost certainly behind him, making his purchase highly specious.