Scores Rennes en direct
24 August 2011 | à 18h27

Post-academy rather than Academy training ?

Relegated to CFA2, the Reserve squad of Stade Rennais has been strengthened this summer, in particular with arrivals of young African players with « real potential » according to Pierre Dréossi. A temporary strategy to fill a generational gap or a new beginning for an extended orientation in the future ?

Post-academy rather than Academy training ?

Last Saturday, Stade Rennais Reserve has begun its season in CFA2. A real event for a team that had been playing in the fourth national division [1] since 1981. On that date, the reserve had just earned two consecutive promotions, after being relegated in DH due to the big financial trouble met by the club at the end of the 1970’s. Also on that date most of the current professional players weren’t even born and Pierre Dréossi like Frédéric Antonetti or Patrick Rampillon were on the pitch with their studded shoes on.
After thirty years without relegation, the 2010-2011 season came to shake some habits. A failure caused by the growing level of the division as much as by several others reasons specific to Stade Rennais. In the first place, two generations 1991 and 1992 lacking both quality and numbers. Those poor standards were already noticed with previously generations (1987 for example), but the plague of injuries coupled with the reduction of the number of players in the first squad didn’t contribute to fix it.

The Academy: a generation gap

“If we are studying the core of the problem, the issue is a small gap in terms of the quality of our players in the 1991 and 1992 years” Pierre Dréossi confirmed to RMC early August. “Last year, the reduction of numbers in the professional squad has added difficulty to the existing generation gap issue: the pros didn’t come to give the reserve team a hand”. With a smaller squad and the absence of reinforcements from above, it was quite a heavy mission for Laurent Huard to work with the hazards of the seasons, which even brought him to call some players aged 16 for some of last season’s game.
Looking at the figures confirms the existence of this generation gap. In the 1988-1989 generations, only a few players eventually fed the professional squad on the long term (only Kembo and Théophile-Catherine are still there) but most of them have started a correct professional career [2] Their relative failure has been quickly compensated by the very good 1990 generation symbolised by Yann M’Vila or Yacine Brahimi, but also by Abdoul Camara and Vincent Pajot. When it comes to the 1991 however, the drop is brutal, with fewer professional contracts signed (a number which is even distorted with the signature of Slimane Sissoko, pushed out by the club only two months after he became part of the professional squad), and even fewer trainee contracts. [3]
An aspect shared with the 1992 generation, which include a nearly identical number of trainee contracts, and shouldn’t produce a very important number of future professionals, despite the presence of Abdoulaye Diallo. A fact to be noticed, for the first game week of CFA2 last Saturday, none of the five trainee of this generation has started, three of them were on the bench. [4]
Fortunately, the next generations doesn’t seems to follow the same way. This summer, not less than ten players from the 1993 generation have signed trainee contracts, and even a professional contract for the promising Abdoulaye Doucouré. They won’t all end up signing a professional contract, but most of them will be the backbone of the 2012-2013 reserve squad.


This season, with the help already noticed of the 1993 generation but also with the hoped reduction of the number of injuries in the first squad, the Rennes reserve should get better results. “If we want a good reserve team, we must need a professional squad with enough players. We won’t have many problems here", affirms Dréossi. "We have a twenty-two players reserve squad. Last year, they were fifteen. With qualities and numbers, this team will almost be self-sufficient and won’t need the input of professional players.”

Reinforcement through post-Academy training

In addition to the 1993 arrivals, a big effort has been made in terms of recruitment this summer. Four arrivals were registered, for two sorts of players. On one side, defender Fabien Boyer and forward Yacine Qasmi, both from the 1991 generation, share the profile of cheap “bets” . The first-name has revived his career last year with Jura Sud (CFA) after failing to graduate in several Academies, the second has been left free by Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this trainee contract. If, at first sight, they don’t seem to have an amazing potential, the two players can be glad to be given a chance in a professional club, and they should be able to share their experience to a team that missed it so much last year.
On the other hand, a recruitment in the logic already ignited last summer, with the arrival of young African players to complete the reserve squad, “foreign players with a real potential” according to Dréossi. Last summer, Ghanaian midfielder Kamal Issah was recruited, followed by Senegalese centre-back Pape Malick Kandji in January. In July, It’s the attacking midfielder Cheick Fantamady Diarra and the Senegalese forward Abdoulaye Sané who arrived in Brittany. These two recruits like their predecessors, are all from the 1992 generation and have all signed professional contracts. “I think we are going back on good tracks with those young players, and we’ll see them in a year or two in the first squad” affirms the general manager.

Although it naturally raises ethical questions, the massive recruitment of young Africans players is a common practice in several French and European clubs. In Rennes, this recruitment has already been tested, even sometimes for some very younger players, for instance with Stéphane M’Bia – arrived from Cameroon at 17 -, or with the Gabonese Stéphane N’Guéma, arrived aged only 15 years old after being spotted during the Montaigu tournament.
“We have tried to fix the generation gap with a foreign recruitment, because in France we have a hard time to find those kind of players when we don’t manage to recruit them four or five years earlier” justifies Dréossi. In other words, those players are cheaper than players trained in France, who also have better protections on their contracts.

Still those players arriving in “post-Academy” training can spread the fear of an overcast future for the players from the Academy. Increased competitions which isn’t bad, in principle, and should strengthen the general level, but which may also, on the long-term, hinder the club’s arguments for the Academy’s recruitment. Today those arrivals don’t specially stop the progression of the players from the academy, but rather complete a squad with a lot of gaps. In the attacking sector for example, the arrivals of Sané and Diarra, in addition of Qasmi enhance the attack where (if the departure of Sissoko is confirmed) Boukaka was the only representative of the 1991, 1992 and even 1993 generations.
It needs to be seen however, whether Stade Rennais will choose to continue or not its “African recruitment” in the future, even if generations to come are good in qualities and numbers. According to his low cost and the huge African pool a choice like this seems tempting. Breton leaders have already tested it in 2007 by recruiting Benjamin Moukandjo and Fabrice N’Guessi in post-academy training, and this, even though recruitment at their position wasn’t really necessary.


[1Named Division 4 from 1970 to 1993, then National 2 from 1993 to 1997, and finally CFA since this date.

[2Guillaume Borne, Kévin Bru, Bira Dembélé, Prince Oniangue, Yohann Lasimant, Maxime Le Marchand, David Louhoungou or Samuel Souprayen played in L2 or L1 last year.

[3The contract of« professional trainee » is signed by players from the Academy when they are 18. Usually for a 2 years contract, it allows players to access the professional squad, with two years in the reserve squad. If they don’t get a professional contract at 20, players aren’t usually kept by the club.

[4Goalkeeper Vincent Dorel, Defender Fabien Balisier and forward Jean-Bryan Boukaka. Jonathan Isambart and Kévin Makila weren’t involved

[5Are counted by generations :
1988 : Borne, Bru, Dembélé, Kembo, Nirlo and Oniangue (pros), B. Levacher and Monnier (Trainees released as free agents)
1989 : Lasimant, Le Marchand, Petit, Souprayen, Théophile-Catherine (pros), Février, Louhoungou (Trainees released as free agents)
1990 : Brahimi, Camara, Caro, Le Tallec, M’Vila, Pajot (pros), Hérisson, Manier, M’Laab, Pivaty (Trainees released as free agents)
1991 : Jebbour, Julienne, Rouger, Sissoko (pros), Le Boulaire (Trainees released as free agents) . Basse isn’t included, since he was only integrated to the at 19.
1992 : Diallo (pro), Balisier, Boukaka, Dorel, Isambart, Makila (Trainees, second year)
1993 : Doucouré (pro), Beauverger, Burdon, Epassy, Foulquier, Gérard, Héry, Lemonnier, N’Gando, Sorin (Trainees, first year)

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