Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1281, (4 - 10 February 2016)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1281, (4 - 10 February 2016)

Ahram Weekly

A superstar arrives

Former Chelsea and French international Florent Malouda moves to Wadi Degla, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

Florent Malouda, a very popular name among Chelsea fans, completed his shock transfer from India’s Delhi Dynamos to Egypt’s Wadi Degla who sit 13th in the Egyptian League table.

The move is certainly one of a kind in the history of Egyptian football as Malouda was considered one of the best wingers in the world between 2010 and 2013 before age and injuries took their toll on the Champions League winner. Even at 35, the move in considered a massive coup by the Egyptian club who are struggling this season and needed such a deal to lift them up.

The Champions League medal in 2012 is just one of the many top honours won by the Frenchman: the English Premier League, three FA Cups and Chelsea’s top scorer in 2010/2011. He was part of the French team which reached the 2006 World Cup final. He won the penalty for France in the final against Italy, which was converted by Zinedine Zidane.

Malouda started his career back in France in 1996 at a low profile club called Chateauroux where he managed to score seven goals in 63 appearances as well as setting up 24 goals. He earned himself a move to a much more familiar French team in the form of Guingamp where he scored 17 goals and set up another 13 in 96 outings in three years. Malouda’s performances in his final season with Guingamp earned him rave reviews all over the country as the top teams in France fought for his signature but it was Lyon that managed to sign him from under the nose of Lille. Malouda made a name for himself during his four-year spell with Lyon as he became one of the best players in the country which earned him a regular place on the national team.

Malouda managed to find the back of the net 32 times and racked up a massive 42 assists in 181 appearances for the French giants. Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Liverpool all showed real interest in the player at the end of the 2006/2007 season and official enquiries from the three clubs were sent to Lyon. The French club vowed not to stand in the player’s way if he wanted to test himself abroad after Malouda admitted he wanted to play in the best league in the world — the English Premiership — which meant that a move to either Liverpool or Chelsea were now his options.

Negotiations between the two English giants and Lyon took place with Chelsea’s financial power sealing the deal at the end with Liverpool refusing to get into a price war with their rivals. Malouda signed for Chelsea in 2007. It took him a bit of time to settle into English football given its high demands. A six-year stint with Chelsea saw him score 45 times and assist in another 43 in 228 appearances. The figures might seem average for most people but Malouda’s all round game was exceptional during his time in England especially in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 where he was the club’s star man.

However, Malouda suffered some serious injuries at the end of his fifth season with Chelsea and missed a huge chunk of the final third of that season which prevented him from having a proper season before his sixth year with the club. As a result, he failed to make a single appearance in his final season with the club until he was released in 2013 to join Trabzonspor as a free agent where he played there for one season and managed to score seven goals and racked up nine assists in 29 games.

Although Malouda shone during that season he decided against extending his deal with the Turkish club to go back home to join Metz. Malouda’s three goals and five assists in his one-year stint with the French club showed that the former France star who won 80 caps with the national side was getting a bit old.

Malouda played for one season with Delhi Dynamos who are managed by former Brazil mega star Roberto Carlos. Malouda failed to score with a club for the first time during his 19-year career but still managed to set up eight goals in 16 outings.

Malouda’s transfer to Wadi Degla is already a hit with Egyptian fans nationwide, not just Degla supporters. No football fan in Egypt could believe the news of Malouda coming to Egypt given his status and history in the game. So when the news was confirmed by the Egyptian club it left everyone awe struck. The club itself could not hide their absolute delight after being able to lure such a big name to play in the Egyptian League even if he’s 35 years old.

Malouda will without doubt give everyone at Wadi Degla a much needed boost to halt their drop this season as they sit 13th out of 17 teams in the league. Malouda signed a short term contract that’ll see him stay only until the end of this season. So let’s hope he manages to help his team stay in the top division which could see him extend his deal for another season.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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