New Country, New Chance

Back in 2013, France successfully won the U-20 world cup - a triumph that in a way, has announced the recent glory of French football in the World Cup in Russia. One possible proof for it can be found in the fact that this squad consisted of players such as Alphonse Areola, Samuel Umtiti, Florian Thauvin and Paul Pogba, all players who performed for France in Russia 2018, including Pogba and Umtiti that had a main role in leading France to victory.

Another interesting name in the promising squad of France was Geoffrey Kondogbia. Kondogbia, together with Pogba, was one of the driving forces in the heart of France’s midfield and was signaled as one of the future stars of French and world-wide football. After the World Cup in 2013, Kondogbia moved to Monaco for a large fee and was part of a team consisting of stars like James Rodriguez, Falcao and Joao Moutinho. Kondogbia was one of the main pillars of Monaco’s midfield during his spell there, leading to a massive 35 Million Euros transfer to Inter Milan in 2015.

From that moment on, Kondogbia’s career was stuffed with several disappointments and bad performances. These performances were so bad, leading to his exclusion from the French national squad for Euro 2016. Moreover, to add to the humiliation, Kondogbia received the worse player of the year “prize” in Italy for 2016. From that moment on, Kondogbia tried to salvage his career with a loan to Valencia followed by a permanent move in May 2018.

It might be needless to say at this stage that although being signaled as one of the future stars of French football back in 2013, Kondogbia wasn’t included in Didier Deschamps final squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This fact, added to the facts that Kondogbia played only in friendly games under the French squad and that his parents are originally from the Central African Republic led to a situation in which Kondogbia was eligible to play for his parents’ home and nation.

Kondogbia decided to join his brother who represents the African team since 2010 and in a way this case has some interesting aspects of modern globalized football. On one hand, like some other players such as Kalidou Koulibaly and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kondogbia’s case can be seen as an another example for the strong, even romantic connections between sons of immigrants to France and their family’s home land. This claim can be supported by the fact that Kondogbia founded an association to improve education in the Central African Republic called “Kishan”. According to the manifest of the organization, Kondogbia founded it as part of his obligation to contribute to other people, according to his statement, and especially to the ones living in Central Africa.

However, in that same manifest Kondogbia defines France as his own country. This statement can look completely normal due to the fact that Kondogbia was born in France, grew up there and was glad to represent its national team. Therefore, another interpretation to this case might be a bit more cynical. According to this interpretation, once Kondogbia wasn’t included by Deschamps in the French squad for Russia and he understood that it will be tough for him to beat players such as Pogba, Kante, Matuidi and Tolisso for a place in the squad he chose to take a chance with another team in order to have some international experience.

Central Africa will play Ivory Coast for two important matches in October 12th and 16th at the qualification for the Africa Cup of nations that will be held in Cameroon in 2019. Both teams are tied for second place of their group, behind Guinea, making these two matches extremely important for the chances of Central Africa to qualify. It will be interesting to see during these games if, in fact, Kondogbia’s bet is starting to prove its worth or not.