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FEATURE | Jérôme Roussillon – one of Ligue 1’s most underrated full-backs

Mendy, Marcal, Dani Alves, Rafael, Sabaly, Kurzawa, Amavi, Malcuit… The French league certainly does not have a shortage of talented full-backs. But one of them sadly does not get a lot of the pundits or the media’s attention year after year: Jérôme Roussillon. Powerful, physical, fast, intelligent, versatile, able to support the attack whilst not impeding on the balance of his defence and with decent technical abilities, Roussillon has every attribute required from the modern full-back.

Roussillon was born in January 1993 in the Parisian suburb of Sarcelles (which is also where Ben Yedder and Mahrez were born). His first contact with football was at the age of 6 with his local club the RC-Saint Denis, where his father also played. Six years later, he was then spotted by the INF Clairefontaine, the leading French youth institute for footballers where the likes of Ben Arfa, Matuidi but also Roussillon’s current teammate Jourdren spent their early years.

In 2009, he was recruited by Sochaux, a club whose youth section is rated as one of the best in French football. With the club’s youth squad, he scored 30 goals in his first season playing as a left-winger or even sometimes as a striker, a harbinger of his future offensive qualities. The following season, playing in his now favoured left-back position he reached the final of the Gambardella, the youth version of the Coupe de France, with Sochaux.

Power, pace, link-up play… Roussillon showcases but a few of his many qualities here.

It is with the club from the Doubs that he will make his first Ligue 1 appearance in 2012 against Ajaccio. Following the team’s descent into Ligue 2 in 2014 he slowly but surely gained a regular spot in the starting eleven and attract the attention of his current club the Montpellier HSC where he will be transferred in mid-2015.

He didn’t take long to impose himself as the uncontested starter for the southern formation, competing in 33 games in his first season for the club. He continued performing well in his second season being one of the most consistent and talented elements of Montpellier’s squad along with the likes of Sanson and Boudebouz. His performances attracted the attention of the English and German teams Hamburg and Crystal Palace.

Despite being a full-back, Roussillon isn’t too bad a finisher.

With the recent departures of both Boudebouz and Sanson, Roussillon was expected to grow in importance within the Montpellier squad and step up his good performances to another level. It is early in the season, but so far the player of Guadeloupean descent has been up to the task: He was elected by the readers of the number one Montpellier fan Website (“Allez Paillade”) as the player of the month of August, and amongst the three best of September.

In the two previous and arguably hardest games of the season against Paris and Monaco, he came out as one the best of Montpellier’s players. Against Paris, he obtained the rating of 7,5 and 7 from Foot Mercato and Maxifoot, respectively. He was even elected Man of the Match by the latter media against both Monaco and Paris.

Although he has recently stated that he is happy in the aptly named Languedoc-Roussillon area, he is likely to be following the trajectories of his former teammates Sanson and Boubedouz, leaving the southern formation for a more competitive club. There is no doubt that if Roussillon keeps up his current performances, the clubs enquiring about him in the future will be bigger than Crystal Palace and Hamburg.

 

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