The Failed Jewel: Yoann Gourcuff


What is the most important position in football? All positions are important, according to the portion of respective duties. Furthermore, football is teamwork. But in Italian football terms, there is a very vital position and very much appreciated. That position is trequartista.

Although his position is attacking midfielder, trequartista is not an ordinary attacking midfielder. Etymologically, trequartista is the “third-quarter” that refers to the player’s work area in the field. Such a player will use his skill to design the attack in the third area of the opponent’s end. However, this player does not only have a good skills. The sharpness of goal scoring is also an attribute that should be owned by this type of player.

One might say, a trequartista role as play-maker who operates in the opponent’s defense area and also capable of scoring goals. Yoann Gourcuff could be said suitable categorized to be a trequartista. His move with the ball as the string beautiful poetry and often dazzling goals, also created from the France midfielder.

AC Milan noticed this and recruited Gourcuff in 2006/07. But all the wonderful things sometimes do not become a reality. Gourcuff failed to become the real jewel. There is no significant development in two seasons along with the Rossoneri. Despite participating in the squad that led Milan to the 2006/07 Champions League title, Gourcuff had no significant role during his career in Italy.

He felt that he no longer had a place in Milan, so he moved to Bordeaux in the summer of 2008/09. There he slowly proved himself and became an important pillar of Les Girondins. In his first season, he even successfully led Bordeaux to a Ligue 1 title. His compelling performance invited an interest, again from Milan, which he ultimately rejected.

Gourcuff endured two seasons at Bordeaux. His performances with Bordeaux granted him a spot in the French national tea for the 2010 World Cup South Africa. Entering the 2010/11 season, he decided to move to Olympique Lyonnais. There he endured five seasons until finally returning to his boyhood club, Rennes per 2015/16 and still there to 2017/18 season running.


Gourcuff peak, when he has played for Bordeaux.

Yoann Gourcuff is a very talented footballer. By French media, L’Équipe, Gourcuff pinned the nickname “La Succeseur” or the successor referred to the legend, Zinedine Zidane. Same position and a similar style of play make him a fantastic future foreseen like Zidane. Incidentally, after drowning in Milan, Gourcuff resurrected himself in Bordeaux, the club where young Zidane began to be known by the public.

Christophe Dugarry praised Gourcuff as high as the sky. “That goal was no accident,” he said. “It showed there was something magical about him. I felt ill when Zidane retired. Watching Gourcuff has cured me. When I see players like him, I feel like a small boy again.”

What the French legend said above came up after Gourcuff scored a splendid goal against Paris Saint-Germain in the 2008/09 season. He feels Gourcuff was a new phenomenon that France needs after Zinedine Zidane’s retirement. If so many people believed in Gourcuff, why his ability never reach to the maximum?

In his days in Milan, he actually lived with the best generation. There was still Ricardo Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Paolo Maldini, Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta. He can absorb as much knowledge from the greatest, althoug must be aware of the difficulty to fill the boots of amazing players in Milan.

Gourcuff supposed to be the inheritor of Kaka in Milan.

In his position as a trequartista, there was Ricardo Kaka. Competing with the Brazilian midfielder is certainly not a simple task. Gourcuff was a young boy and certainly could not match the world-class player that Kaka was. And it seems he was projected as an alternative, if Kaka does not play or move from Milan.

Perhaps, Milan intends there was transfer knowledge from Kaka toward Gourcuff, as like as happened from Rui Costa toward Kaka before. But what happened was not so. Gourcuff has trouble adapting to the “culture” of Milan.

His poor adaptation also played a part in his gloomy days in Milan. Maldini who confirmed this, “Gourcuff in Milan was 100 percent wrong,” Maldini said. “His problem was his behaviour. He did not show an intelligent way to manage himself. When he played here, he did not want to make himself available to the squad. He did not start studying Italian immediately. He did not work. He was not always on time. It happened a lot. [There are] things he cannot say. But he knows what he did.”

On the one hand, Gourcuff is considered lazy to gel with the whole team in Milan. But there are objections to this, some said he was a shy person. According to Laurent Blanc, his coach at Bordeaux, Gourcuff just need guidance and support from the people around him. Proven in Bordeaux, when he was supported by all the elements of the team and was able to perform brilliantly.

This player who was called “strange boy” by Carlo Ancelotti, uniquely, could never be separated from the issue of the conflict in the team. At the World Cup 2010, Raymond Domenech intended to make him the center of the game for France. Like Zidane, he was played as a trequartista behind the striker.

However, in the opening match against Uruguay, he flopped. The emerging issues of senior players such as Franck Ribery and Nicolas Anelka, deliberately “ostracize” Gourcuff on the pitch. French team were unable to go beyond the group stage. They came home with embarrassment, along with other team conflict involving Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema.

Now, in the rest of his career with Rennes, hopefully Gourcuff will begin to rediscover the comfort in football. But unfortunately, the world had no time to polish a jewel called Yoann Gourcuff, which then became a jewel that failed to shine.

Especially about his story in Milan, I think Gourcoff made one mistake, he came at the wrong time, with Milan being consisting of amazing players at the time.

Sources photo:,, and

AUTHOR: Haris Chaebar