Sunderland New-boy Yann M’Vila: Fake Or Fortune?


Sunderland have snapped up French international midfielder Yann M’Vila on a season long loan from Russian side Rubin Kazan.

The twenty-five year old has had a mixed career so far. So will he prove his worth in the English Premier League or will he fail to take yet another chance?

How different it was just a few years ago.

During his days at his first professional club Rennes, M’Vila seemed to have the footballing world at his feet. The youngster made a solid and significant impact at the Breton side and helped them to impressive Ligue 1 finishes.

Yann seemed the next in line of world-class defensive French midfielders, joining a lineage that included the Didier Deschamps, Patrick Viera and Claude Makelele.

His commanding performances for ‘Les Rouges et Noirs’ gained him international recognition, he’s won twenty-two caps for Les Bleus. He also attracted interest from some of Europe’s top clubs with Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal all linked with the midfielder at one time.

But when major sides look at signing a young player they take more into account than just his playing ability. As M’Vila’s playing stock rose visiting scouts heard murmurings of off-field problems, these that have continued to blight M’Vila’s career.

The biggest one of these non-playing issues was the constant question marks that surrounded Yann’s attitude. Even as he was breaking into the Rennes senior squad, his former boss Guy Lacombe questioned his attitude.

Those types of reports put off big teams as they don’t want the hassle of trying to reform a bad boy.

His problematic reputation was cemented when the French Football Federation (FFF) banned the midfielder for eighteen months from representing his nation at any level. The ban (issued in late 2012) was handed out after the FFF decided that M’Vila was the chief instigator of a plan that saw five players leave an under-21 camp without permission and spend the night out partying. The ban was then reduced on appeal.

That came after the defensive man received a one game international ban after he refused to shake the hand of French coach Laurent Blanc following a substitution during Euro 2012.

Those incidents have halted Yann’s international career as he has not represented his country since 2012. He has now seen watched as players like Paul Pogba, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Blaise Matuidi shine on the international stage.

At Rennes, M’Vila would be jeered by his own team’s fans. Suddenly the golden boy was no longer performing as expected at the Stade de la Route de Lorient and people were getting tired of his off-filed antics.

In the 2013 January transfer window, Yann M’Vila was sold but not for a huge price nor to a huge team. The player was transferred to Russian side Rubin Kazan for a £10m fee. It looked as though the French internationalist was being banished to the bitter east.

Moves to the Russian Premier League can be very lucrative for players but they can also mean that you get forgotten about. That kind of happened to M’Vila, although he’d always be linked with moves back to a bigger league during the various transfer windows in the intervening times.

Last season he was loaned to Inter Milan but failed to make that chance count as he was sent back to Russia early after some very inconsistent performances.

Now comes his chance in the Premier League with Sunderland.

After reading the first half of this blog, you’d be forgiven in thinking that M’Vila was a lost cause.

But Sunderland may have actually made an astute signing.

Firstly it’s not a permanent deal, so if it doesn’t work out he won’t buy him. That said, I will be amazed if a fee hasn’t been agreed already if he impresses,

He’s a tall anchor-man and Sunderland need more height in their side.

The player also has tremendous ability. That has never been in question. It’s all about getting the best out of him.

‘Black Cats’ boss Dick Advocaat loves a strong defensive spine in his teams. The Dutch coach has brought in new centre-backs to help harden the back-four. The signing of M’Vila could help protect those central defenders with his hard work-rate and combative style. His eagerness to make a challenge, should endear him to the Sunderland support and be suited for the rigours of English game.

At Rennes, Yann was often deployed as a deep-laying playmaker. He’d continually find room and receive the ball, before playing a pass forward and keeping possession. The twenty-five year old also has the ability to read the game and that is a bonus both defensively and going forward.

With the Amiens native marshalling in-front of the defence that will allow Lee Cattermole to push further forward and create things for the strikers.

The player himself seems to have a hunger to succeed in the Premier League and shine for the Wearside club.

After signing he said:

“I’ve wanted to play in the Premier League for a long time so I’m very happy to be here,”

“I’m very happy to be a Sunderland player. I had a very good feeling training with the team; every player welcomed me and the feeling was very good with them so I’m excited for the start of the season.”

But alas we have heard this before, just replace the Premier League with Serie A and Sunderland with Inter and as it’s almost word for word what he said last summer.

In truth Yann M’Vila needs to understand that words are all very well and good but they mean nothing if they aren’t backed up with actions!

He also has to realise that in Advocaat he’ll be working under a manager who can be a strict disciplinarian. Yes Dick will love Yann’s defensive capabilities, but the ‘Little General’  won’t put up with any slack attitude problems and won’t hesitate in bombing M’Vila back to Russia if he’s not pulling his weight at the Stadium of Light.

So it’s now up to Yann M’Vila. He has another great opportunity to resurrect his career but can he grasp that opportunity with both hands and help boss midfields in England? Or will he once again trip himself up due to his own over inflated ego?

Personally I hope we see M’Vila the talented holding midfielder and nothing of his dubious attitude! But only time will tell.

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