Just one big month after his German debut with Eintracht, Randal Kolo Muani changed dimension by finding himself for the first time on a Didier Deschamps roster. A crazy step in the irresistible trajectory of the former Nantes, who went unnoticed for a long time, and who definitely lives a memorable year 2022.
By Jeremy Baron
Foot pleasure and Osgood-Schlatter
“Profiles like Randal, at fourteen in Seine-Saint-Denis, he had dozens and dozens” , let loose Jérémy Klein, who had the phenomenon at his command in the incubators of FC Villepinte and US Torcy, two of the Île-de-France clubs among which RKM made its journey, when football was then a passion for him more than a sport. profession in the future. Because of his indolence, but above all because of a brutal growth and Osgood-Schlatter disease that shot his knee and kept him away from the courts for almost a year in his teens. (“I had unexplained pain. As soon as I ran, it hurt”)the child’s potential took a long time to be exploited. “At the age of fourteen he was already one meter 75Klein continues. And for having done dozens and dozens of coordination sessions with him, the boy did not breathe comfortably with the ball, it was after he began to get used to it, to dominate his body. On a toujours I felt that the avait plus de potentiel que les autres, it seems that the grandissait très vite, qu’il prenait très souvent la profondeur et qu’il était très doué techniquement, mais il n’était pas au-dessus dans the acting. » If the crack of the DRC will not set foot in a professional club before turning 17, it will also be due to disappointing school reports(1) and the body language that has damaged him for a long time. “He is a player who had great qualities, but he did not train thoroughly.remember one of his agents. He liked the pleasure of football more than anything else. When we started taking care of him at the end of his U-17 season, we did some mental preparation, he needed it. »
“For football, I was ready to go to Australia! I was determined. » Randal Kolo Muani
A few months away from his majority, RKM knows however that time is running out and that his qualities deserve a professional team, far from his Villepinte and his beloved city-stadium. It could have been Cremonese or Vicenza in Italy, or even Stade Rennes or En Avant Guingamp, four teams with which he spent inconclusive tests around the summer of 2015, struggling for months – also training in parallel in Neuilly-sur-Marne – against FC Nantes definitively opened the doors for him in December, at an age when most future professionals (such as his former Torcean teammates Alexis Claude-Maurice and Lamine Ghezali) are already settled in their respective clubs. “We contacted the recruiter Odilio Gomis, Randal went to trial and the next day they called us to tell us “we signed it” » explains the agent.“For football, I was ready to go to Australia! I was determinedtold us about the player in these columns less than a year ago. When my father told me to go back to France (during his trials in Italy)I actually cried. […] In Nantes, I dove headfirst, it was paradise… And my last chance. »
“He had that nonchalance of creative, intuitive players, who did not go through a training centerasks Pierre Aristouy, his coach for three seasons at the young yellow and green shoots . It was necessary to work on the consistency, the durability of the performances and the demand. It was his way of being, of playing, he had that ability to shoot suddenly, to invent something, and many times to make a difference. » This last opportunity, however, the villepintos will have to endure to be able to take advantage of it, between Élie Youan’s competition in the youngsters, the parade of coaches who do not give him a chance in the first team (Sérgio Conceição, Claudio Ranieri, Miguel Cardoso, Vahid Halilhodžić), the humiliation signed by Vahid after his only term in 2018-2019 (“Why did I choose to set it? Between me and him, I chose him. I had no other solutions.”) and his loan to US Boulogne in the third division during the 2019-2020 financial year: Kolo Muani is a player who falls in love with the naked eye, and Aurélien Capoue – sporting director of Boulogne – was no exception to the rule at the Vitré municipal stadium, on May 18, 2019 during a National 2 match, then forcing the arrival of the will-o’-the-wisp for a few months.
“We asked him to stop being an intermittent showman”
Much to the annoyance, at the time, of Pierre Aristouy, who was already pushing – like central manager Samuel Fenillat and recruiter Matthieu Bideau – for his protégé to invite himself to Ligue 1 after a league title with the reserve team, in the company of Imran. Louza in particular: “In hindsight, this loan served him well on a human level and in his approach to football. We all put a lot of pressure on the professional coaches that followed one another in Nantes so that they would trust him and then he would be the one to do the work. He managed to modify a few things to become an outstanding competitor. But I’m still convinced that after this great year with the reserve team, he could already have joined the professional team. » His independent at the Stade de la Liberation, although very prominent (three pawns, two dice passes and three penalties caused in fourteen appearances), had however started very badly, with two red cards received in his first five games.“When he got the two reds in quick succession, we asked him to stop being an intermittent showman, to disappear at certain times and not touch the ball anymore.remember the agent . We told him: from the first to the last balloon, you have to scandalize the stands, people say that you have nothing to do here. »
“It has become very rare, players who at 17 have not yet been hired in training centers, and who end up being international. » pierre aristouy
The sequel is a fairy tale: revelation in L1 of his first matches with Christian Gourcuff, call up to the France Under-23 team, romance on the pitch with Ludovic Blas, demonstration in the Parc des Princes in March 2021, Games Olympics, 2021-2022 season with thirteen achievements and seven offers in all competitions, a good number of elite defenders thrown out, recital until Saint-Denis and the Coupe de France lifted, the departure of Nantes free of any contract as a snub to Kita, then the one given away in the Bundesliga and the landing at the Château de Clairefontaine this month back to school.“When he arrived in Nantes, he had that bright side, he didn’t stick his head out muchrewind aristouy . He loved football, he wanted to play and he was nice, but he was not someone who did everything to be even more professional. Players like that, there are many, who fail because of that. Where he was very strong is that he managed to change that. With all the scouts there may be, and especially in the Parisian region, it has become very rare, players who at 17 have not yet been hired in the training centers, and who end up being international. » A fair reward, believes his agent, who, like many, did not imagine such a quick citation: “His signing in Germany was announced at the beginning of March, nobody understood the moment, it was the Frankfurt club that decided to do it to launch his signing. Everyone wondered if Randal was going to be focused, focused on the end of the season. From the moment he signed he freed himself from a ballast and rose to a higher level, like the games against Paris and Monaco, or the Cup final. »
? Randal Kolo Muani, on a possible selection for the World Cup: “It’s in the back of my mind, I’ll have to try in training and when I return to my club” pic.twitter.com/9ceGSMez6w
— THE TEAM (@elequipo) September 19, 2022
FC Nantes, through its official communications, did not have the elegance to publicly welcome the call to Blue of its former colt – on the contrary by Alban Lafont four days later – and it’s a shame: the striker is undoubtedly the biggest crack released by the yellow house for a good fifteen years and a certain Dimitri Payet, also picked up late in Jonelière and “only” post-trained in Nantes. And although the FCN does not leave Randal Kolo Muani every year, the factory of local champions, so famous in the past, benefits from a slight return of hype in the France national team, having recently been represented by Léo Dubois or Jordan Veretout.“It shows that the training in Nantes still works very wellsmiles Aristouy . We know how to train players until they reach the highest level, passing through other higher-class clubs that play in European competitions. » And Didier Deschamps may already have his eye on Quentin Merlin, who knows.
By Jeremy Baron
Words collected by JB, except where noted. Those of Randal Kolo Muani extracted from an interview for sofoot.com in October 2021.
(1) In the interview for Sofoot.com:“Me, it was just football. School… I went there, but I didn’t speak in class. I was in my corner, I was waiting for it to end. My father reminded me: “There is school.” Also, when I was doing tests, they asked me for reports: the field was fine, but the report was not. »