Simon Kuper first met Florent Malouda at Camp Guingamp four years ago playing alongside team mate Didier Drogba. They played another club from Le Havre. Kuper recalls "Malouda played terribly. Guingamp lost 2-1. They looked like a village team."
Now after being voted as the Ligue player of the year. Kuper says
"He has no weaknesses: he can dribble, tackle, run, score and cross with either foot. He can play in most positions. A stringy 5ft 10in tall, he looks as if he designed his own body to play professional football. Like most of Lyon’s players, he is fit enough to play two games consecutively. (Instead of buying Malouda, Chelsea could have cut out the middleman and signed Lyon’s brilliant fitness coach Robert Duverne.)"
It is quite an article because Kuper is not an easily impressed writer but Malouda seems to have everything it takes to be a success including being one of the fittest soccer players on this planet so the increased rigour of the Premiership should pose no problem. He is also a good soldier which should fit right in with the micromanaging Jose Mourinho.
As he told the newspaper L’Equipe: “Since my arrival in metropolitan France, I’ve erased certain traits of my character to avoid being rejected by the system, to the point where I get reproached for nonchalance even though I’m an electric battery.”
Which gives rise to a question: Malouda sounds like a cipher channeling certain statements on demand. Does he have the fire? Will he live up to the hype?
Simon Kuper thinks so. Malouda will be worth it. That day in Guingamp, a club director told me: “From time to time we have a little fantasy: a Brazilian player comes, or Szarmach, the Pole who played three World Cups.” With hindsight, having Malouda and Drogba in the village team wasn’t a bad fantasy either.
We shall see. Last year proved to be a bust for Sheva and Ballack, two players who were supposed to have lifted Chelsea from their penchant for cautious play making but failed. So Malouda has some big shoes to fill.