Goal.com 50: Yoann Gourcuff (28)

Goal.com's countdown of the Top 50 footballers of 2008-09 continues with No. 28, Yoann Gourcuff; a young man dubbed the 'new Zidane'.

There can be little dispute that Yoann Gourcuff was the star of Ligue 1 during season 2008-09, providing something of a ‘X-factor’ for the Girondins de Bordeaux side that snapped Olympique Lyonnais’ seven year monopoly on the French crown. The young midfielder quickly became the natural leader of Bordeaux - the go-to man – producing countless key contributions as les Girondins edged Olympique de Marseille into second place.

Last season was the campaign that confirmed the early promise of a young man who had shone in Rennes’ youth ranks, winning a move to Milan, where he never truly convinced coach Carlo Ancelotti. His inability to feature regularly for the Rossoneri brought about a potentially career-changing loan deal to Bordeaux, where he would spend the duration of the term prompting play and even showing glimpses of the ‘new Zidane’ tag bestowed upon him earlier in his career.

It was evident from his early weeks in the west of France that he would quickly become a key presence in the Bordeaux side, scoring the goal on the opening day of the season that drew Laurent Blanc’s men level with Caen en route to an early success

After a promising start to life in Ligue 1, installed in a central role in a Bordeaux side that was playing the most attractive football in France but not necessarily picking up points, the 22-year-old really came to the fore with quarter of the league campaign gone, enjoying a run of form that would see comparisons with Zidane rekindled.

Meanwhile, Raymond Domenech’s France side needed to be reinvigorated. The controversial coach made a rare popular decision by calling up Gourcuff, who set up Nicolas Anelka’s goal against Serbia in a vital 2-1 World Cup qualifying win. Then the young man hauled les Bleus out of a deep mire to secure a 2-2 draw against Romania, despite previously being 2-0 down. The game in Constanta also saw Gourcuff strike his first international goal, a typically exuberant strike from distance that reduced the score to 2-1.

Such highs have not been hit on the international stage again to date, although the 6ft 1in offensive midfielder continued to astound for his club side, becoming increasingly influential during the second half of the season as les Girondins ultimately pieced together a record breaking 11 match unbeaten streak.

An Inspiration | Gourcuff was Bordeaux's go-to man
all season, scoring many key goals

The highlight of Gourcuff’s season, individually, was an outrageous goal scored against Paris Saint-Germain. Receiving the ball to his feet with his back to goal, a swift turn carried him away from his marker before outrageously sharp footwork saw him leave two defenders trailing. Completing two seconds of footballing genius was a toe-poke into the corner of the net, carrying Bordeaux to a crushing victory over the title contenders.

That was just one moment of personal brilliance, there were others: a stunning derby goal against Toulouse; a cheeky goal against Le Havre; two late goals against Rennes to turn a deficit into a victory for his ten-man side; a virtuoso showing in the Coupe de la Ligue final, which Bordeaux won against Ligue 2 opposition in the form of Vannes; and a soaring late winning header against Valenciennes in a vital league encounter.

The goal against Valenciennes really showed Gourcuff to be close to the complete player. Everyone was already aware of his ability over a dead ball, his instinctive brilliance in tight spots, his astute passing, but no-one had seen him score a header with such grace, and at such a vital time, with only seven minutes of a must-win game remaining.

For one so young to be quite so inspiration is remarkable, and it is little wonder that Bordeaux fought so hard to secure his services on a permanent basis. After a somewhat drawn out affair, it was announced at the end of May, that les Girondins had completed his transfer from Milan, with a fee reportedly between €13 million and €15m – truly a bargain for a player of such burgeoning quality.



Ligue 1: 2008-09
Coupe de la Ligue: 2009
Trophee des Champions: 2008


Ligue 1 Player of the Year: 2008-09
Ligue 1 Team of the Year: 2008-09
Ligue 1 Goal of the Year: 2008-09
UNFP Player of the Month: April 2009

Robin Bairner, Goal.com

29. Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria & Italy)

28. YOANN GOURCUFF (Bordeaux & France)

27. Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid & France)