Having completed a drawn-out move to English Championship side Wigan Athletic on transfer deadline day, French striker Andy Delort is set to start the next chapter in his career following an impressive spell at FC Tours.
Speaking just days after the move was confirmed to La Nouvelle Republique, the 22-year-old took some time to explain the reasoning behind his choice of destination, the challenges of adapting to a new league and a new culture and his hopes for the future.
Andy, let’s start with the question that so many Tours fans are asking themselves, why did you choose to join Wigan?
“It immediately seemed like the obvious choice. As soon as I visited the facilities I felt right at home. I spoke with the coach [Uwe Rosler] and it felt right. I realised that he had faith in me, that he’d seen me play many times and that he knows how I play and how to get me to play well. On Saturday I watched a match and I can definitely see myself fitting into the side.”
So how do Wigan play?
“It’s a 3-5-2. Above all, they play good possession football. There are some talented individuals and it’s a really complete side. They put in lots of crosses and create plenty of chances, everything is geared towards attack. I know that I’m going to enjoy it.”
“I’ve just finished my second training session with the group and it’s very intensive – it’s all running and match situation drills. It’s tough and I need to adapt to it.”
Is that because you’re not yet at full fitness?
“Yes, there is that. Also, my team-mates have already played four matches while I wasn’t even able to train last week. But I’m not far from full fitness. More importantly I need to adapt to the physical nature of the game and the higher speed here. Passes are always fired in and everything goes at a thousand miles per hour…”
Is the standard higher than at Tours?
[Hesitates before answering] “It’s generally a higher standard, yes… To be honest, Wigan would probably win Ligue 2 by a good margin. I think this team would be playing in Ligue 1.”
Is that your response to people who think that you’re taking a step down by moving to Wigan?
“It’s a choice I made as I don’t want to get ahead of myself. People can think whatever they want but there are definitely plenty of “armchair pundits” out there who voice their opinion without really knowing anything about the Championship.”
And it definitely wasn’t a move made for financial reasons?
“No, not at all! You go to other countries like Russia or Qatar if you’re looking for money… Anyway, if I wanted more money, there were offers from clubs in the Premier League that would have given me it. I just don’t want to cut corners with my development. The English top division is my dream and I want to play there but I also want to take my time about it. One day perhaps.”
Are you aiming to get there next year?
“I think I could get there with Wigan, yes. That would be perfect. If not, I know that if I have another good season then I can attract interest from a Premier League club. Ultimately, I know what I’m capable of! I just want a club to believe in me, give me some playing time and get me the ball in front of goal. After that, it’s down to me to put away the chances. I’ve just had a great, full season and I want to reproduce that form here. We can go back to this talk of me moving here for money or making a mistake moving to Wigan after I’ve shown what I can do.”
Let’s quickly discuss the drawn-out nature of your move and the fact that Tours questioned the stance your agents took.
“I can’t fault my agents at all. We agreed terms with several clubs and it was Tours that wouldn’t sanction the move. That’s it. Yes, it took a long time and I definitely expected things to get sorted out a lot more quickly, but you just have to learn from it. It was a difficult situation to manage but one thing is certain: I’ve signed for a great club with plenty of ambition just like myself.”
Do you think it will take you a while to get used to life in England?
“The hardest thing at the moment is driving on the left [laughs]. I went for a drive and it was hard work… I’m going to take English lessons as soon as possible to make it easier to settle in.”
Do you already know the basics?
“No! Even French is a bit of a struggle… [laughs] They’re going to love it on Twitter!”
Are there any French speakers in the Wigan side?
“Marc-Antoine Fortuné is. I didn’t know him before the move but he’s a really nice guy and he put me at ease straight away. Wigan is a real family club with amazing facilities. English football is ten years ahead of French football. Anyway, in terms of the language, first team coach Eric Black also speaks some French after playing at Metz and one of the physios does too, but it’s down to me to make the effort.”
And a quick word on Tours, what will stick with you?
“I really came into my own at Tours and I got on really well with the coach and my team-mates. I know that Tours was a great springboard for me and I’ll never forget that.”
Finally, when will you be making your first official appearance for Wigan?
“Well the international break has given me a chance to get some work in so I really hope that I can be in the side for the derby with Blackburn on 13th September.”