From Hero to M’Villain

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Yann M’Vila had the world at his feet. Courted by Europe’s leading clubs, he was on the verge of a big money move. What went wrong for the young midfielder?

Yann M’Vila became known to Premier League fans this summer, as the Stade Rennais holding midfielder was targeted by various top-flight clubs. His supposed destination changed on an almost-daily basis: Arsenal, Everton, Spurs, Manchester City. Even Zenit Saint Petersburg wanted the Amiens-born youngster.

Just a few short months later, however, managers could be forgiven for avoiding the now-22 year-old like the plague. Yet while his decline may seem sudden, M’Vila’s fall from grace has not happened overnight.

After joining Rennes’ Academy in 2004, M’Vila was soon labelled as one to watch. He began promisingly, playing a key role in the team that won the French Under-18s league in 2007 and the prestigious French ‘FA Youth Cup’, the Coupe Gambardella, in 2008.

M’Vila then signed his first professional contract and, after spending a season in the reserves, manager Frédéric Antonetti handed him his first team debut in August 2009. Following an impressive rookie season, then-France manager Raymond Domenech selected him in his preliminary 30-man squad for the 2010 World Cup. Although omitted from the final group for France’s ill-fated South African adventure, M’Vila seemed to have the footballing world at his feet.

This positive trajectory continued into the 2010-11 season. In addition to helping Rennes to a sixth-place league finish (and eventual qualification for the Europa League), M’Vila made his senior international debut and immediately became a regular starter under new coach Laurent Blanc. Ominously for Rennes, some of Europe’s biggest clubs began sending scouts to Brittany to run the rule over the club’s star attraction. Crucially, the youngster seemed to have his impulsive behaviour- seen as his major weak point in his early years at Rennes- under control.

In summer 2011, however, the real trouble began. In August, following the France-Chile friendly in Montpellier, M’Vila and a friend suffered the ignominy of being robbed by a pair of ladies whom they’d met in a nightclub and spent the night with in a hotel. The following month he captained Rennes for the first time, but his on-field form began to dip noticeably.

Then, in April of this year, the player blotted his copybook once again. Following Rennes’ humiliating Coupe de France semi-final defeat against minnows Quevilly, he was involved in an altercation with angry supporters. Just weeks later, he was detained for 24 hours by police after having been accused of hitting a 17 year-old man.

A pattern was emerging. Until this point, though, M’Vila’s misdemeanours had taken place off the pitch, with his only on-field issue being a disconcerting slump in form. And so Laurent Blanc kept faith in him and off to Euro 2012 he went.

M’Vila had all the tools at his disposal to become a world-class midfield player, and he still has. But it seems something fundamental has to change with his attitude before he achieves what he is capable of.

Bon courage, Yann. You’re going to need it.

Read the entire article about Yann M’Vila’s fall from grace at Football Ramble.

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