Ligue 2. At FC Sochaux, rebirth goes through training. Sport

Seventeen years after FC Sochaux’s last appearance on the European stage, his name has resurfaced on the largest lawns of the continent in recent months. However, the European Cup is a far cry from the concerns of the club that has been involved in Ligue 2 for almost eight years.

Far from the glitz, the FCSM (5th) moves to Auxerre (4th) this Saturday, trying to assert themselves among the contenders for the end-of-season climb. His influence intact in the highest spheres, he owes to a handful of his former inhabitants, who passed from the hopes of the training center of the club of the second French division, to the rank of players of the highest level of continental football.

Konaté, Onguéné, Lacroix: the representatives in C1

This season alone, three players trained by Sochaux have shone in the Champions League. Alongside Jérôme Onguéné (25, Salzburg) and Maxence Lacroix (21, Wolfsburg), Ibrahima Konaté (22) particularly impressed Liverpool’s central defense in the first round of the sixteenth game against Inter Milan.

The France international was trained in the Doubs between 2014 and 2017 and is showing this season as one of the biggest talents in his position and will compete in a C1 quarter-final for the first time.

Last season it was Marcus Thuram (24, having played for Sochaux between 2012 and 2017) who took his first noticeable steps in the league with Borussia Monchengladbach, notably scoring twice against Real Madrid. An impressive density of outbreaks from players trained in Sochaux in such a short time.

“It’s rare that so many of our former players are represented at the highest level at the same time.tastes Jean-Sébastien Mérieux, director of the Sochaux training center. But I’m not surprised at their turnout. We knew these guys had great potential, with lots of strengths, especially athleticism, to embody the typical profile of the modern player. †

Ibrahima Konate (right) in the Liverpool shirt in the Premier League. © Photo: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

An intuition that owes nothing to chance. These recent successes are part of the club’s long training tradition and confirm that it remains a French reference in this field, despite its descent into Ligue 2 in 2014.

“We have known three different directions since the relegation, they all quickly understood that the heart of the club project runs through the training center”assures Jean-Sébastien Mérieux, who has been in charge of the institution since the summer of 2019, after being responsible for the recruitment of young people.

“A springboard club”

With seven recruiters seconded across France, Sochaux continues to deploy the resources to attract the future gold nuggets of tomorrow. It’s also a way to meet the best talent and maintain its reputation. “We have remained attractive to families and young playersnotes Raphaël Scherrer, youth recruitment coordinator within the club. We cultivate the image of a potential accelerator club. We agree to be a springboard club as long as we are in Ligue 2.”

The example of the spectacular emergence of several players from the last generations of the center is the best argument for the club. Mainly because he emphasizes Sochaux’s tendency to trust his young people very early by launching them into the professional world. “People who come to us know that the bridge between the training center and the professional team is wide open”in abundance Jean-Sébastien Mérieux.

Before flying to Leipzig in the summer of 2017, Konaté made his Ligue 2 debut in yellow and blue colors at the age of 17. Same age as Marcus Thuram in the 2014-2015 season. Maxence Lacroix was 18 when he joined the FC Sochaux first team in 2018.

Patience and appreciation

However, it is impossible to count only on young players. “The ideal is to have an experienced number of recruitment for each position, and a second choice of the training center to compete with him”explains Raphaël Scherrer. A balance is all the more necessary because the adjustment time is always very variable from player to player.

This season, the club is relying on six of its own players to source the elite, including gold nuggets Rassoul Ndiaye (20 years old, 24 appearances) and Alan Virginius (19 years old, 20 appearances). Two players with different trajectories.

“Ndiaye has a full season, but this is his third year with the pros. He has a lot of quality, but we had to be patient with him. He worked hard to get there.analyzes Omar Daf, the coach of the FC Sochaux professional team, who trained at the club himself in the late 1990s. Alan, he was able to chain the matches very quickly and very early even though he is currently more efficient when coming in during the match. It depends on the boys. †

photo rassoul ndiaye (in yellow) during the french cup match against fc nantes this season.  © photo: patrick hertzog / afp

Rassoul Ndiaye (in yellow) during this season’s Coupe de France match against FC Nantes. © Photo: Patrick Hertzog / AFP

In any case, their full development is vital for FC Sochaux. Apart from the freshness and the sporting qualities they bring to the staff, despite themselves they are almost the only heritage of the club. A wealth to be appreciated.

“You have to find the right balance to combine the result and the economic aspectsums up Omar Daf. I try to integrate young people in the best conditions. You have to accept that sometimes you don’t have experience on the pitch because we are a training club. They can sometimes make us lose points, but they make the club grow in the end. †

Sometimes they make it too. The sale of great hope Lucien Agoumé to Inter Milan (4.5 million, plus bonus) in 2019 lifted the club out of the abyss where it was on the brink of plunge after being temporarily administratively relegated to National 1 due to financial difficulties. †

The challenge to sign the first professional contract therefore seems decisive, with the risk of jeopardizing the club’s financial model. But the threat from foreign powers is growing. The latest example is recently for FC Sochaux with the free departure of young striker David Mokwa (18) from next summer to Hoffenheim in Germany.

We have blocked the display of this content to respect your cookie choices.
By clicking “Consult”, you accept the placement of cookies by social networking services such as Twitter.

A “treason” faced Eric Hély, historical figure of the club and director of the training center between 2014 and 2019, during the free departure of Ibrahima Konaté to Leipzig. “I was angry with Leipzig, but also with our player. It is a terrible feeling to see a number of years of work not being rewarded and benefiting another club. »

Extreme competition that forces the club to take more risks. “We have to protect the players earlier and earlier to avoid this problem. But the younger we sign them, the less certainty we have. The evolution of a boy between 16 and 20 years is uncertain, we can be more mistaken”exhibits Jean-Sébastien Mérieux.

ALSO READ. Football. Ligue 2: at SM Caen, substitutes struggle to exist

In February FC Sochaux signed a first contract with Eliezer Mayenda. At 16 years and 9 months to become the youngest player in club history to turn pro.