PROFILE | Irreplaceable Laurent Abergel is Lorient’s Mr Consistent

The last 18 months has seen Lorient’s midfield ball-winner and motor, Laurent Abergel, emerge as one of France’s leading exponents of his role as surprise package, FCL challenged for a European place for much of last season. In truth, however, Abergel’s quality is nothing new to Ligue 1 observers and he again is one of the more worthy but less famous names populating this year’s GFFN 100.

Now pushing 31, Abergel’s rise to Ligue 1 took longer than it should have. The Frenchman’s top-flight debut arrived as long ago as the 2013/14 campaign for Marseille, where the locally-born midfielder had emerged from the youth ranks. That two-minute cameo against Valenciennes nearly a decade ago was Abergel’s only top-flight action until 20/21, following Lorient’s promotion after the shortened covid-affected season.

Abergel had been forced down into Ligue 2 to make his way in the French game. Firstly with Ajaccio and then Nancy where he would become captain and often carry the struggling second-tier side who were flirting with relegation despite playing Ligue 1 football as recently as 2017. Being used all over the pitch at Nancy, Abergel stood out in both his tireless defensive work and playmaking from deep. Having struggled via 6th and 7th placed finishes since their relegation, Lorient snapped up one of the second tier’s standout players in 2019, winning the division in Abergel’s first season.

Abergel shines out of possession

Having dominated Nancy games both in and out of possession, in Ligue 1 Abergel is a primarily scrappy hustler of a midfielder, covering significant ground in front of his defence to halt attacks and recycle the ball efficiently. While his team’s form has fluctuated over the last four seasons, Abergel’s hasn’t; always proving a committed, energetic and effective presence whether Les Merlus are keeping up with PSG at the top or suffering through a long winless streak.

Like many defensive midfielders who apply their low-key but crucial work to games, Abergel’s recent performances are best underlined by his impressive stats which see the Lorient man make his case to be France’s best all-round tackler. At the time of writing, Abergel ranks first in France for interceptions this season as well as second for total tackles, seventh for tackles won and fifth for dribblers tackled, according to FBRef. In the last four seasons, he’s made the top three in Europe’s ‘Big 5’ leagues on seven occasions across those categories too, with the 20/21 campaign a standout year.

At this level, Abergel isn’t the stellar all-rounder he was in Ligue 2 with Nancy but his supreme effectiveness in his specific but crucial role has, at last, come to the fore in 2023.

GFFN | Adam White

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