Yoann Gourcuff has long been expected to be a big deal. Indeed, it is something of a compliment to his presumed ability that he is still considered to have failed to fulfill his potential despite winning a Champions League title (with Milan in 2006-07), and being named Ligue 1 Player of the Year for the 2008-09 season. But his career has repeatedly hit some road blocks due in part to some bad spells of injuries and also a reported failure to settle after his big move to Milan in 2006.
Now, at the age of 29, Gourcuff is looking for another opportunity to make good on the expectations that have followed him for most of his career. He is a free agent after a five-year stint with Olympique Lyonnais concluded this summer.
Remember back in July of 2013, when Lyon came to Red Bull Arena to play in a friendly against the Bulls? Gourcuff was the man to tie the match at two goals, in the 75th minute. At the time though, Yoann Gourcuff's career was sputtering.
In January of 2010, at the age of 23, Gourcuff became the highest paid player in France: Lyon reportedly paid him more than $400,000 per month, after acquiring his services for a fee in excess of 20 million Euros. He had bounced back from a slightly disappointing stint in Milan to re-establish himself as one of the best young attacking midfielders in France with Bordeaux. But in five seasons with Lyon, he never matched the number of appearances, goals or assists he delivered for Les Girondins in each of the two full seasons he spent in Bordeaux.
Fast forward to present day, Yoann Gourcuff is, per Tom Williams of The Guardian:
"(Gourcuff) is now without a club and struggling for his future."
Currently, the French attacking midfielder estimated to have a market value of about 4 million euros - quite the drop-off from even just two years ago when he came to Red Bull Arena (reportedly 7 million). He has played for a total of four clubs, three of which have been in Ligue 1 (Stade Rennais, Bordeaux, Lyon) as well as spent two seasons, from 2008-2010 with Serie A side, A.C. Milan.
And here come the New York rumors,
According to a well-placed source: Yoann Gourcuff is "in negotiations w/Thierry Henry's former #MLS team" https://t.co/GTmlv8WDLV #RBNY— viper (@viperRBNY) July 28, 2015
Though on the other hand, according to Empire of Soccer,
"Enigmatic French playmaker Yoann Gourcuff is a name that has surfaced. Curtis would not comment on whether or not New York have contacted the former Lyon star, but sources tell EOS Gourcuff will not be coming to the Red Bulls. Those same sources add, however, that the team will be adding talent as early as this week."
So take your pick on who you want to believe. I will sit back and simply enjoy the name being in the same sentence as the Red Bulls. With New York thought to be looking spend around $1.5 million on a DP, Gourcuff seems likely out of the club's price range. More plausibly, he's simply being used to keep us entertained until the true RBNY target is revealed.
But I really like Yoann Gourcuff. Beyond being fancy on the ball, he has a good first touch, as well as vision and passing ability. I think all of those traits can be taken simply from watching his play in January of this year, assisting teammate Corentin Tolisso:
Do I believe Yoann Gourcuff will be signed by the New York Red Bulls? No. Am I hopeful? Of course. What good is a transfer rumor to your favorite club if you're just going to shoot it down right away? And I think New York is going to sign another DP within the next two weeks. Be it Yoann Gourcuff or a new named leaked within the next couple of days, New York is going to have to complete its squad with another attacking force (as well as another right back) if it wants to turn an encouraging first half of the season into a run at MLS Cup.
Yoann Gourcuff, I like you.