When a young French footballer, attacking midfielder achieves great performances, the shadow of Zinedine Zidane hovers around him. Its vista, its elegance, its genius, its technique have made many generations dream. A comparison which, in the end, does more harm than good to young hopefuls, not yet psychologically ready.
As paradoxical as it may seem, being compared to Zidane often represents a curse that haunts the player for the rest of his career. The media have crowned a lot of “new Zidane”. Comparisons that are mostly quite superficial. The origins are also one of the elements playing a role in the comparison. .
Meghni, the first of a long series
The first is Mourad Meghni. The playmaker is Franco-Algerian like Zidane. The praise started at an early age for him (16). At that time, Meghni only played in the French youth teams. A title granted when Mourad Meghni did not even know how to demonstrate all his talent later, at the professional level, in major championships such as Ligue 1 or Serie A. He will subsequently evolve in the Algerian and Qatari championships. Yet it was said of him that he had “more pure technique than Zidane” in his feet. Meghni ended up playing for the Algerian national team nine times between 2009 and 2010.
Marvin Martin’s double
Marvin Martinn is another ‘new Zidane’ in power. During his very first selection for the France team, Martin is a double scorer. He returned in the 76th minute against Ukraine when the score was nil (1-1). He then splashes the last quarter of an hour with all his talent. Finally, the Blues win (4-1). Marvin Martin scores twice and provides an assist. At the time, with this precocity record, Marvin Martin was doing better than Zinedine Zidane. The newspaper Le Parisien will headline, “Is he the new Zidane? » . Finally Martin will never confirm the hopes placed in him. The fault in particular to physical concerns.
Meriem never confirmed
Camel Meriem is another victim of the ‘new Zidane’ label. Of Algerian origin, like Zidane. He will push the comparison, until joining the Girondins de Bordeaux very young, the club which had allowed Zidane to take off his career.
Zidane himself will dare the comparison, inviting him to “take up the torch in Bordeaux and in the France team”. Among the Blues, unfortunately, it will only be three selections with the number 10 between 2004 and 2005. In Ligue 1, Marseille supporters will remember his great season on loan, while his time in Bordeaux will be anecdotal in the end.
Mercato – PSG: Zidane has chosen his next challenge and lets it know https://t.co/1Mmkf8wpCn pic.twitter.com/OloCP8OnXF
— 24hfootnews (@24hfootnews) June 23, 2022
Gourcuff, the heir
Most notable on the list: Yoann Gourcuff. Qualified as an “heir” by the daily newspaper, l’Équipe, Gourcuff was certainly a gifted footballer. The former Milanese has at times splashed France with his talent, especially with his breathtaking season at the Girondins de Bordeaux in 2008-2009. The media probably held the first player who could assume the comparison. It was without counting on the failing physique of Gourcuff and his inability to handle the pressure.
Nasri, born in Marseille like Zidane
Samir Nasri was also called the “new Zidane”. Playmaker, born in Marseille to parents of Algerian origin. His early career was thunderous at OM. Same for his departure to Arsenal, in the Premier League. The acclimatization is successful, Nasri shines, just like in Manchester City thereafter. Unfortunately for him, in the France team, it’s more complicated. He will never have really known how to launch his adventure with the Blues. Blame it on controversies and behavior at times singled out. If Nasri’s club career will ultimately be very correct, this will not be the case in the France team.
Ben Arfa, the biggest mess?
Noticed very early on the show À la Clairefontaine, Hatem Ben Arfa had gold in his feet. All the biggest French football players who have rubbed shoulders with HBA are unanimous. Ben Arfa’s talent surpassed almost all footballers in the world. What is once again a problem is the behavior of the player within a collective. As the expression suggests: geniuses are sometimes misunderstood. A recurring concern with the 87 generation. A generation long qualified as the “golden generation”, but which has never been confirmed. With the exception of Karim Benzema, yet the least visible in the youth categories. And perhaps ultimately the one who will have come closest to the former legend of the Blues.