PROFILE | Florian Tardieu: The former Marseille ultra trying to keep Troyes in Ligue 1

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Penalty expert Florian Tardieu was the centrepiece of a Troyes side that earned its first top-flight survival in 15 years last season. He netted four times, and already has three more this season on top of his two assists, but it was because of his wide-reaching midfield influence that meant the Eastern side were able to ultimately finish clear of the drop.

The Istres native is the crucial link between defence and attack in the counterattack-based style set up by Bruno Irles (before his sacking in November). He began his professional career under the radar at his hometown club before moving on to Sochaux, and has now been at Troyes for three years. A former Marseille ultra in his youth, his own highlight of the season will have undoubtedly been scoring a panenka at the Parc des Princes towards the end of the campaign, in an impressive draw for his team against the eventual champions.

This summer, Tardieu could have joined his former manager Laurent Batlles at Saint-Étienne, who were relegated, but has insisted he was always set on remaining at ESTAC (admittedly easy to say now Les Verts are now rock bottom of Ligue 2). Troyes are not lacking in turmoil themselves, though, with just three wins all season resulted in yet another managerial change for the City Group club.

Tireless in his recoveries and ever-present in every phase of play, Tardieu finds himself on the ball more often than any of his teammates. Speaking to L’Équipe, the midfielder has cited Samir Nasri and Andrés Iniesta as influences, even going as far as copying the former Arsenal and Manchester City man’s blonde tips. More recently, though, he has been compared to Marco Verratti, both in his combative nature as well as his omnipresence in the build-up, a link which has flattered the Troyes man, happy to set aside club allegiances just this once.

Having seamlessly made the transition from Batlles’ possession-based style to Irles’ more urgent approach, it remains to be seen whether the veteran will have the same success under Patrick Kisnorbo. What’s certain, though, is that he can rest assured there’ll be a third season in Ligue 1 lined up for him next year, wherever that may be.

Raphaël Jucobin | GFFN

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