There's no doubt that whatever it was that truly went down between Florent Malouda and Chelsea Football Club in the summer of 2012 is not exactly a shining moment in our history. Fresh from double cup triumphs in Munich and Wembley, but not far removed from similar episodes with Alex and Nicolas Anelka, Malouda's shunning put a sour spin on things as we looked forward to seeing Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata together in action.
Nothing concrete has emerged in the two years since as to why exactly Malouda got, well, Malouda'd into training with the Academy, away from the rest of the first team for the entirety of that season. What is perfectly clear is that Chelsea deemed the player surplus to requirements, but were stuck with an immovable contract (not for the first time, mind you). However, FloMo and FloFamily were seemingly quite well settled in London and he wasn't about to give up all that money just out of the charitable goodness of his heart. On some level, both sides were right and both sides were wrong, though exactly how the percentages play out along that divide is up for personal interpretation.
To his credit, Malouda took his banishment like a champ, kept in shape and earned himself a contract at Trabzonspor last summer. He signed for two years, a small detail that now has a slightly larger role to play in light of recent events.
In an interview published today by L'Equipe, the 34-year-old Florent Malouda opens up -- for the first time, really, as far as I'm aware -- about that sordid episode with Chelsea. I actually tried to pay the €0.50+transaction fee to read the darn thing, but I was unsuccessful, so I'm going to have to rely on Sports Witness instead and hope that they got all the pertinent words in the correct order. For those that can read tiny French words, here's a screenshot of said spread.
"Upon my return from Euro 2012, everything and anything was in the media, I was asking too much money and that the club tried to set me up in Brazil, I understood. The leaders did everything to discredit me. There is no excuse for these practices. I was sent to the Académy, with those less than 21 years old to make an example that a player should not decide their future. It was a purely political decision, as with Alex and Nicolas Anelka.
Except that, for them, it did not last. It touched me not being able to play the final of the Club World Cup in 2012, especially against a Brazilian team, but I've never cracked. I knew where I was going, I stayed consistent and there was never any discussion with the interim leaders, even in the winter transfer window. Then I do not want to go into exile in Russia, I have always wanted to be free of my choice. So I planned, managed my year at the academy, where I was well respected by the young."
-Florent Malouda; source: Sport Witness
So that's Florent Malouda, the victim. I can understand his position, especially in this day and age of guaranteed contracts and players holding ever more power. Chelsea's treatment of Malouda, who probably had something to offer still in light of all those minutes that went to Marko Marin and Yossi Benayoun towards the end of the season is not exactly something we should be looking to repeat (and thankfully did not with Fernando Torres).
Malouda moved to FC Metz at the very end of this summer's transfer window, having had his contract canceled at Trabzonspor halfway through its two-year duration. How curious! Now, for all I know, Turkish football (law) might allow clubs more leeway -- for example, according to this, a way out could be simply to just stop paying the player who would then be free to leave -- but it sure seems that Malouda willingly took less money to go back to France.
Malouda admits he made a financial effort to regain France seven years after leaving Lyon. "Economically, the Ligue 1 is not competitive in the world. It required the efforts of both sides..."
-source: Le Figaro via Google Translate
While there have been rumors of Malouda clashing with new head coach Vahid Halilhodžić, the fact that he was willing to negotiate a deal for less money but more playing time does make his criticism of Chelsea suddenly a lot less impactful.
And with that, it's time to wish FloMo all the best as he begins his Ligue 1 journey anew. He's set for his Metz debut today, as last season's Ligue 2 winners host Claude Makélélé's (and Chelsea loanee Joao Rodriguez's) SC Bastia.