Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing French Football expert Romain Collet-Gaudin (@RomainCG75), journalist at Eurosport France as well as at Infosport Plus news channel of CANAL+. We touched on many topics involving French players, his career as a journalist, and transfer talk involving Liverpool.
By: José Díaz Navarro (@Cheduardo99)
Q: Out of all French players to play in England, who did you enjoy watching the most?
A: “It is certainly Thierry Henry! He immediately performed very well with Arsenal. I was a teenager – 11 years old in 1999 – and I really tried to follow all of Arsenal’s games. Thierry Henry made many young people dream and I was one of them. He was fast, scored a lot of goals and he was class on the pitch. He really marked the history of the Premier League, for me he is one of the best players in the history of the English League. In addition, there was a French contingency, with Arsene Wenger achieving incredible results with the Gunners. I regret that I have never been to a match at Highbury. I made up for it with the Emirates Stadium, I covered Arsenal v PSG in 2016 in the Champions League for the French media.”
Q: After Houssem Aouar’s stellar performance against Manchester City in the Champions League few weeks back, do you think he’ll make a big-money move to a bigger team? If so, which team can you see him moving to?
A: “Houssem Aouar is promised a bright future. He had a very great match against Manchester City and yes it is very likely that he leaves Lyon. Juventus is interested and he could play with Adrien Rabiot who has been gaining momentum since the start of 2020. If he were to stay in France, it would be good for PSG to sign him. A Verratti-Aouar duo in the middle, it will be very technical with a lot of movements, I would like to see that. But I still think that his near future will be outside of France.”
Q: Are there any exciting young French players to look out for apart from Eduardo Camavinga?
A: “Yes, of course! Camavinga is definitely the new star of French football but we must keep in mind that Kylian Mbappe is only 21 years old! I really like Maxence Caqueret from Lyon who has taken on a new dimension in the last few weeks. Last Thursday, September 4th, he also played and made a huge contribution for the u21 team of France in Georgia. Another player that I follow quite carefully is Boubacar Kamara from Marseille who gives off a lot of serenity for his young age. He is already a taulier within OM.”Embed from Getty Images
Q: Do you know anything regarding PSG’S reported interest in Joel Matip – is it true?
A: “No, PSG is not interested in Joel Matip.“
Q: Is there light you can shed on why Nabil Fekir’s proposed transfer to Liverpool never went through a couple of years back?
A: “For Fekir and Liverpool, the official version of the facts evoked a concern during the medical examination, which would have revealed a problem with the knee and was part of the reason as to why the Reds retracted their offer. However, the transfer, estimated at around 50 million Euros (£45M), was close to completion. Nabil Fekir was Liverpool’s priority. His agent chatted for four months with Liverpool executives and Jürgen Klopp. Everything was fixed with Jean-Michel Aulas the president of OL. The real reason for the breakdown in negotiations was that his entourage wanted additional commissions. As a consequence, Liverpool did not appreciate this and retracted. They were ready to sign Fekir despite a not 100% positive medical examination.”
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They [Liverpool] were ready to sign Fekir despite a not 100% positive medical examination.”
Q: A lot of reports suggest PSG are interested in Thiago Alcantara just like Liverpool, do you see the French side going for him?
A: “Yes, PSG are interested in Alcantara. But at the same time which club is not? It’s just a matter of time but I think Thiago Alcantara will play for Liverpool in the next few weeks! After we saw with the Fekir situation, we must wait for everything to become official. For Alcantara this should be the case!”
Q: Since the Nike x Liverpool deal was confirmed, fans have been speculating that Kyliann Mbappe could make the move to Liverpool. Do you think there’s even a possibility (however small) that this could happen in the future?
A: “I don’t think so. But, after all, anything can happen in this new football business. We see that in so many transfers, the equipment manufacturers play an increasingly important role. For this 2020/2021 season, Mbappe will play with PSG, the rest will surely be written on the side of Real Madrid! In a year? 2 years? 3 years? It will depend on what PSG does in the Champions League.”
Q: Who has been your favourite Liverpool player in recent years?
A: “Steven Gerrard, of course! For what he accomplished in Liverpool. One of the best midfielders in the world at the club! I love players who stay loyal to their team. It is becoming more and more rare these days.
NB: Gaudin also alludes to a French player who was a mainstay in the first team for the Reds. We assume he refers to Djibril Cissé!Embed from Getty Images
Q: If the Balon D’or hadn’t been cancelled, who do you think would have won it?
A: “Since we are living in the very strange year of 2020, I would have liked to see Manuel Neuer win the Balon D’or for all of everything he has done! He revolutionised the goalkeeper role and then he won the last Champions League!”
Q: Do you agree with people when they say Ligue 1 is a “Farmer’s League”?
A: “Obviously not! The French championship is a very difficult League. The problem in France is that the taxes are the highest in Europe and this has negative consequences for attracting players with high salaries. PSG is an exception but I would like to see the likes of Lyon, Marseille, Rennes and Bordeaux have the same tax rates as in the Premier League and you will see that they would have a better team and therefore better results in the Ligue des Champions (The UCL) even if Lyon went to the semi-final of the last Champions League. I will be in favour of an identical tax system for all the countries which play the Champions League to reduce the differences between them.”Embed from Getty Images
Q: Tell us one of your best moments in journalism?
A: “I have several, here is my top 3:”
3: “The semi-final between France and Germany at the Velodrome for Euro 2016, I covered the match for Twitter. Everything was exceptional – the atmosphere, the victory, and the qualification to the final. I would have told you the final against Portugal, I was there too, but unfortunately, France did not win. Suddenly the semi-final in Marseille feels much better!”
2: “Chelsea against PSG at Stamford Bridge in 2015. The press box is just behind the sidelines and you enjoy the football much more. You are much closer to the pitch and everything goes faster. Emotionally it was very strong when Thiago Silva equalized to make it 2-2. There was no other noise in the stadium, we only heard the Parisians. So very emotional.”Embed from Getty Images
1: “The best moment in my career as a journalist was the concluding match between Nîmes and Ajaccio. It was May 4, 2018, and I will remember that date for the rest of my life. I commented on the match on the French Bleu Gard Lozere – the local radio station in the region (Radio France Group). Nîmes won 4-0 and there was a special atmosphere in the Stade des Costières because all the red and white people were waiting for the comeback in the top flight, Nîmes had been waiting for 25 years. Why is it the best moment? Because I am from Nimes, I was trained at Nimes Olympique..”
“I played there for 10 years amongst other youngsters and in 1993, then at 5 years old, I was already in the Stade des Costieres with my grandfather to see the club in Ligue 1. I obviously wanted to see them again at this level. 25 years has been a very long time! I hope they will stay in Ligue 1 as long as possible. Moreover, since the 2019/20 season, I’m commentating on all the matches for France Bleu Gard Lozere and every weekend I am very happy to travel to all the stadiums in France to commentate on the club I trained at!”