Thursday, 9 August 2012

Heroes: Ludovic Guily

Paris Saint-Germain start the season with a home match against Lorient on Saturday night.

Despite being overwhelming favourites for the match, and indeed the Ligue 1 title, PSG will have to work hard to avoid a repeat of last season’s opener, which saw Christian Gourcuff’s side triumph 1-0 in Brittany.

The wily Gourcuff has strengthened his squad well over the summer, with the arrival of Alain Traore – a lone beacon of light in Auxerre’s relegation season last year – and a familiar face in the form of ex-PSG winger Ludovic Guily.

Guily left the Parc-des-Princes last summer to re-join Monaco, but he was released after a season in Ligue 2 and the 36-year-old is ready for a final crack at the big time.

"This is a club that suits me because there is a culture of football being fun to play, led by the great coach that is Christian Gourcuff,” he said after penning a one-year-contract.

"I know people will be counting on me on the pitch and in the dressing room. I will give everything to make sure I have a great adventure with the FCL."

Guily was a favourite player of mine even before he signed for PSG, mainly I think because of his diminutive frame. He stands at 5’4”, and you can’t help but admire little guys who succeed in an era where, Leo Messi aside, being 6’ plus seems to be a pre-requisite for a top-level footballer. He makes up for his lack of inches with no little pace and dribbling skill, and can always be relied upon to make an impeccably-timed run into the box to notch a goal at the far post.

After starting his career at Lyon, Ludo became known on the international stage thanks to his performances at Monaco. He spent six years in the principality, eventually becoming captain of the team once Didier Deschamps took over. He was a key member of the team which so nearly won the 2004 Champions League, but succumbed to injury early on the final as Monaco were beaten 3-0 by Porto.

That summer he was on the move again, joining Barcelona for €7million. Here he won the La Liga title and the Champions League, before losing his place in the side in 2006/07 season due to the break-through that Messi bloke. A one-year spell at Roma followed, before he arrived at PSG in the summer of 2008 for a fee of €2.5million.

“I’ve always loved Ligue 1,” Guily told Le Parisien on arrival. “In Italy, I did not feel very comfortable. It was not sport, more personal [issues]. So, I did not hesitate for a minute when I knew that a big club like Paris was interested in me.”

The season that followed was probably my favourite as a PSG fan to date. Paul La Guen’s side were in and around the top five all season, with Guily, Jerome Rothen and Stephane Sessegnon providing the ammunition for a stellar cast of strikers: Guillaume Hoarau, Peguy Luyindula and, er, Mateja Kezman. Despite registering some good results (a superb 4-2 win in the Velodrome against OM, in which Guily didn’t actually play, springs to mind), they eventually finished sixth, missing out on the European places.

Guily ended the season with nine goals, but only managed four the following season despite remaining an integral part of the team under new boss Antoine Kombouare, winning a Coupe de France medal. He continued to play regularly in 2010/11, despite his advancing the years, but was released last summer at the end of his contract, with PSG preparing for the big-name revolution that followed.

A move back to his old stomping ground of Monaco appeared to provide the perfect finale for a glittering career but, as at PSG, foreign money intervened. Monaco were taken over mid-season by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who soon appointed Claudio Ranieri as boss. To the chagrin of many supporters, the Italian decided that Ludo wasn’t part of his plans.

"Giuly has had ​​a great career, but this is a new project and I rely on other players,” said Ranieri after freezing the veteran out of the first team. “Is it justified? I talked with him, I explained my reasons and as a professional and great man, he understood. It is up to him and the club to find a compromise. "

At one stage it looked as though Prince Albert II, Monaco’s head of state, might intervene to keep Ludo at the club, but it was eventually agreed that he would be released half-way through a two-year contract, and now has a final chance to make an impact on the Ligue 1 stage with Lorient.

It remains to be seen how much involvement Ludo will have in the first team, but having such an experienced character around the place will no doubt be a big boost to Gourcuff as he looks to better last season’s 17th place finish, which saw them escape relegation by a single point.

And if he starts at the Parc-des-Princes on Saturday night, he will no doubt relish the opportunity to score one last goal at his old stomping ground and help Les Merlus cause an upset. PSG beware!


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms