Manchester City robbery at seventeen, captain of Bastia of Ghislain Printant at twenty, magnificent executioner of Juventus in July and sure bet of Serie A for the past four years under the colors of Udinese: Seko Fofana leads so far a busy career. This will continue this season at RC Lens, in the history of which he became on Tuesday and for ten million euros the biggest transfer. A surprising destination and sum, for a man to whom Italy promised a top club. What the Sang et Or intend to become again, under the impetus of the Ivorian international.
An acceleration to glean the ball at the expense of Alex Sandro at the median, a shoulder to resist the return of the Brazilian, a small bridge on De Ligt to open the way to the surface, and a flat of the left foot that crucifies Szczęsny and Juve. This July 23, 2020, at the end of this ride, Seko Fofana does not only delay the ninth consecutive coronation of the Old Lady, beaten on the edge in the field of Udinese (2-1), almost maintained in Serie A of the same stroke. He also remembers the good memories of the general French public, generally little aware of the immense talent of the man, exiled from the age of 17. This time he will have the opportunity to see him a little closer this season: at 25 brooms, and after four years in the Boot, the midfielder signed up on Tuesday with RC Lens, promoted to the elite. . Signing in passing, more than seven years after his departure from Lorient for Manchester City, a return to France as unexpected as it is resounding.
Drizzle in the sun
For the native of Paris, passed by the young people of Paris FC and the training center of Lorient, this return to Ligue 1 is in fact the second, after that operated – on loan – in 2015-2016, in Bastia. At the time, it was a young man, quite unknown in France, who put his bags down on the Isle of Beauty. And for good reason: he has, at the height of his twenty years, not yet played any professional match on French soil. Unable to come to an agreement with Lorient, it was at Manchester City that he signed his first professional contract two and a half years earlier. In the North West of England, his first mentor was named Patrick Vieira, then U23 coach of the Skyblues, where Fofana marches on the British Reserves Championship (20 games, 6 goals) and reaches the quarter-finals of the Youth League (7 games, 2 goals).
The second is called Yaya Touré, boss of the midfield of Citizens, to whom he is frequently compared across the Channel. Suffice to say that the kid does not lack certainties at the time of rallying Corsica. All the more so since he had previously tamed Sporting matches and left a first training loan at Fulham (20 matches, 2 pawns), in Championship, where he discovered the meaning of the words intensity and commitment. Two key words within the Bastia of Printant, Leca, Modesto, Squillaci, Palmieri, Mostefa or Cahuzac, with whom he compiles 32 appearances (including 25 starts, for one goal and two assists), takes four games of suspension to have stuck a ball to Jonas Martin and grabbed a nice tenth place in Ligue 1.
Udine the stroke of love, Lens the stroke of the century
Rather than in Bordeaux, then interested, the result will be written at Udinese where he will win, after a mixed first season, but prolific (22 games, 5 goals), and cut short in March by a fracture of the fibula, as one of the sure values of Serie A. His outings in Frioul allow the child of Les Rigoles, district of 20e Parisian district, to join the Ivory Coast team in November 2017, he, the former captain of the U16 and U17 tricolor and used to the U18 and U19 selections. Launched by Marc Wilmots then snubbed by Ibrahim Kamara, the successor of the Belgian on the Ivorian bench, it is in the shoes of a holder that Fofana returned to the Elephants at the start of the 2019-2020 season, his last therefore in the jersey White black.
The most successful, too, completed with 33 games, three goals and seven assists on the clock. “The time has come to think of me and choose a new destination, he blurted out at the Gazzetta dello Sport early August. It’s gonna be hard to find a place where I’m as happy as Udine. “This place will be neither Rome nor Bergamo, where Lazio and especially Atalanta, both qualified for the C1, made foot in the Parisian, but Lens, simple promoted in Ligue 1. A destination which leaves the transalpine media perplexed and Calcio fans, many convinced that the place of the Ivorian international, author of eleven goals and thirteen assists in 112 Serie A matches, was now in a club regularly playing in Europe.
One Keita can hide another
Justified pell-mell by the interested party in The team by the presence in Artois of ex-Bastiais Jean-Louis Leca and Yannick Cahuzac, Bollaert, the club’s status, its audience, the “Humble project” sold by the board Lensois and his desire to return to France, this choice generates all the more disbelief in Italy that this transfer was concluded for ten million euros, bonus included. A sum far below its estimate in the Boot. But that is enough to make Seko Fofana the biggest transfer in the history of the Artesian club and thus finally erase from the shelves the flop Sidi Keita, defensive midfielder snatched from Strasbourg against six million euros in the summer of 2006. But at the time to welcome this expensive recruit, it is undoubtedly another medium answering the name of Keita, Seydou, that the supporters Sang et Or are perhaps tempted to think.
If the departure of the Malian in 2007 for Sevilla FC coincided with the beginning of the fall of the “great RC Lens”, the arrival of Fofana must, in the minds of many, help to close a thirteen-year parenthesis. With his experience, his power, his generosity, his ability to project himself, to break the opposing lines, to be decisive and to put the brushes, the former White black For the time being has the merit of considerably strengthening a midfield relieved at the beginning of July from Guillaume Gillet and only composed so far of an aging Cahuzac (36 years old in January) and two neophytes at this level, Cheick Doucouré and Manuel Pérez. But also those to sprinkle certainties a Lensois transfer window so far arousing some hopes, but also a lot of questions among its supporters and observers. Not bad, for one man.
By Simon Butel