Welcome to our PRESS BOX feature at Get French Football News. In this series of interviews, some of football’s most renowned experts have their say on the ongoings in the French football world, looking in from the outside.
Today, ESPN and the Sunday Independent journalist Miguel Delaney talks Zlatan, EURO 2016 and backs France as his favourites for the competition.
GFFN: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has of course recently announced that he will be leaving French football after a four-year stay. Do you think that his departure will have a negative impact on Ligue 1?
Miguel Delaney: Not necessarily, no. If anything I think it could “free” the league a bit, as so much coverage seemed to centre on him. Obviously, he brings coverage but it is always on him rather than the league. Also, PSG are now able to sign younger superstars – Angel Di Maria being one.
Ultimately, Zlatan really reflects the league’s biggest problem – PSG can afford players like him, and nobody else can!
GFFN: Arsenal had another disappointing season on their own admission, is Arsène Wenger most at fault for this campaign’s shortcomings?
Miguel Delaney: At this point, it’s impossible to extricate Wenger from any Arsenal issue, given his total power at the club. He built the team, their his players, he sets the tone so he is centrally responsible for every issue – good or bad.
Sadly, I think this season illustrated many key Wenger issues as a manager, even if he is still obviously a legend. The fact they didn’t properly challenge for the title – given the type of season it was – is lamentable.
GFFN: Would you be surprised to see N’Golo Kanté at Leicester next season and do you agree with Gary Lineker’s view that he was the Foxes’s most important player in sealing their improbable Premier League title win?
Miguel Delaney: Him and Mahrez equally I would say. I wouldn’t be surrpised if he stayed but think it’s 50-50 whether he goes.
GFFN: Would you say that Ligue 1 now the go-to market for Premier League sides?
Miguel Delaney: For younger more affordable quality, yes. It remains one of the world’s greatest producers of talent.
GFFN: The French top flight has received greater European exposure in recent seasons thanks to the arrival of QSI at PSG. What needs to happen for Ligue 1 to go to the next level and challenge the best leagues in Europe? Is the gulf purely down to financial reasons?
Miguel Delaney: It needs a proper challenger to PSG, to bring up the general level of the league. It also needs a greater balance in financial distribution.
GFFN: How do you rate France’s chances at EURO 2016? Are they your favourites?
Miguel Delaney: Yes – just about. Although, just like Germany and Spain – the other two main favourites – they have flaws.
GFFN: What is your view on the exclusion of Hatem Ben Arfa from Didier Deschamps’s final 23?
Miguel Delaney: Not as outraged as others. He is brilliant but still inconsistent, and they have other equally good options.
GFFN: Will the failed appointment of Remi Garde at Aston Villa make it more difficult for talented French managers to get jobs in the Premier League in the future, in your opinion?
Miguel Delaney: No, I don’t think so. Ultimately, results speak for themselves, and clubs will still go for managers with good records, regardless of where they’re from.
GFFN: Are the premature signings of players from France (many would argue Anthony Martial should have remained at Monaco for another two years; his progression would have not been disrupted; he would have a better chance of fulfilling the entirety his potential than had he moved to Manchester United), hurting English clubs in the sense that they are privileging players from abroad over giving youth its chance, just as it is hurting the results of French clubs who continuously lose their best players?
Miguel Delaney: To a certain degree, but not completely. There is an argument that it stops managers from investing the time necessary in youth but, at the same time, it is also a challenge for clubs to improve their youth production.
GFFN: Finally, what are you most looking forward to about the European Championships in France?
Miguel Delaney: The sense of carnival about it all – it’s a perfect setting for a Euros, especially when you consider where the next Euros and next two World Cups are going to be held!