In Nantes, the training coughs. If the club always comes out of the good players, it evolves too rarely under the Nantes jersey. Whose fault is it ?
With the return of Valentin Rongier this Wednesday evening at La Beaujoire, for the reception of Marseille (9:00 p.m.), the Nantes leaders can congratulate themselves on training, again and again, talented players. But in recent years, La Jonelière, the Nantes training center, has been declining. “They are making progress but they are behind others. They just go up this year and there’s a terrible gap“. Antoine Kombouaré’s statement on the young people integrated into the professional group had cast a chill on the club in early November. Yet the facts are there. This season, only Randal Kolo Muani is trained at the club and regularly starts.
Good players who do not play in Nantes
The workforce, fifteenth oldest in Ligue 1, leaves little chance to young shoots from the center. Since this declaration, Quentin Merlin is the only other trained at the club who really had his chance with half an hour against Paris Saint-Germain. Performing, he was rewarded with a tenure last Saturday against Lille, even if he was playing right side when he was trained as an attacking midfielder.
La Jonelière therefore always comes out of the good players but had difficulty in making them evolve under his jersey. Again this summer, Imran Louza and Abdoulaye Touré left the club, one for financial reasons, the other because he did not fit into the plans of his coach. Antoine Kombouaré justifies this low use of young people by an accounting need: “Places are expensive and so are points. But I don’t forget them“. After a catastrophic 2020-2021 season, saved by a victorious barrage against Toulouse, the Canaries no longer want to be afraid. Himself post-trained in Nantes, where he arrived at the age of 20, the Kanak preferred to recall that the road could be long but that the opportunities were present. “With Didier (Deschamps) or Marcel (Desailly), when we went up with the professional workforce, we were not immediately enlightened“.
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A complicated coach waltz for young people
La Jonelière, ranked ninth best center in France by the FFF, also had to deal with constant changes of coach, and by extension of methodology. Not easy then for young people to soak up a way of playing “in NantesIf it changes every year.
On top of that, some coaches are reluctant to let young people play. Vahid Halilhodžić or Claude Ranieri preferred to rely on a group of experienced players. In recent history, only Raymond Domenech has publicly expressed his wish to restore canary youth. But his stint of forty-six days, seven games and no win left him no time to walk the talk.
The legendary Jonelière, whom President Waldemar Kita would like to leave, has lost her luster and no longer attracts. According to AFP, four promising young people would like to sign a first professional contract there but hesitates given the playing time of their elders. It seems a long time ago in the 2000/2001 season, when Nantes won the title of champion of France with two thirds of its players trained at the club.