32 players to watch, May 2010

Player To Watch #10: Franck Ribéry

Number 10: Franck Ribéry

Position: Winger

Country: France

Club Team: Bayern Munich

American Based Professional Athlete “Soulmate”: Chris Paul, Guard, New Orleans Hornets

Franck “Don’t Call Me Frank” Ribéry is an offensive dynamo, capable of dictating the flow of an entire football match from the wing, something that can’t be said about more than a few players in the world. He’s the most relevant “Franck” since Martin Short’s character in the Father of the Bride films, and perhaps even more impressively, he’s the best French footballer in the world. I don’t care how down their squad sometimes seems to be, that designation will always be impressive.

He’s also the best player on Bayern Munich, with apologies to Arjen, Miroslav, Philipp, Ivica, and Mario (can’t you just see Mario Gomez choking away a penalty in the Champion’s League Final already?). Sadly for Bayern, they’ll be without their main man Franck in their CL showdown with Inter Milan. He’s serving a suspension for a straight-red cheap shot in the first leg of the semi against Lyon, but you can’t really fault the diminutive middy for letting out some frustration every once in a while. This is a guy who rocks (now trademark) facial scars from a car accident as a kid, was once threatened by his agent with a baseball bat, and recently got caught employing the services of an under-aged French prostitute… and he’s married. I’d have a little unchecked aggression if I were in his shoes too. But as The Dude’s buddy Walter Sobchak knows, this unchecked aggression will not stand, man. Thus, Ribéry’s set to sit and watch Robben and Olic try and stay hot in Madrid later this month, and France national team manager Ray Domenech should be breathing a sigh of relief, because a rested and spectacular Franck Ribéry will have to show up in South Africa if Les Bleus are going to make their usual deep run in the tourney.

Elsewhere, in a city where they used to speak French, an undersized and exceptionally fast basketball player who possesses great vision is planning his own triumphant comeback, though his is from injury. Chris Paul is the leader and best player for the New Orleans Hornets, and he is without a doubt the Franck Ribéry of the NBA. He is constantly looking to create for his teammates, and in doing so he makes everyone around him better. I could score ten points a game in the NBA if CP3’s bringing the ball up court every possession for my team. Okay, that’s not true, but you get me. And just like Franck, he’ll lull you into thinking he’s about to uncork another perfectly measured pass right before he uses blazing speed and mix-tape moves to get to the rim, or go for goal in the Frenchman’s case. And don’t think both guys can’t take the easy way out and let one go from distance pretty much whenever they want; for Paul the three is a weapon in his arsenal, for Franck the long range strike is a specialty. Don’t think he can’t hit ‘em from both set pieces and in the run of play.

Even more promising for these guys who are both in their mid-twenties and in the primes of their careers; those careers keep getting better. After an underachieving final year of college ball based on his talent Chris Paul justified his high draft position by quickly becoming one of the top point guards in the Association. If he ever becomes a free agent he’ll garner one of those NBA “max contracts” I keep hearing so much about. Meanwhile Ribéry’s stock keeps rising. He’s gone from the lower tiers of the French league to Bayern Munich where he’s an ever-present transfer target for Real Madrid and Chelsea, and after the World Cup, one of those big spending giants might just drop one hundred million Euro’s on the little guy.

France will have a hell of a time trying to win a World Cup group that features Uruguay, Mexico, and the South African hosts. Hell, they may struggle to finish second in that group if they show up playing the shyte football they brought to Euro 08 and even WC qualifying. But the French have two definite advantages over the other three teams. Number one, they’re the French. Number two, they’ve got the best player in the group. He’s 5-foot-7, he’s lethal, and he’s our number ten player to watch.

Jon Levy is a senior writer and managing editor for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at jon@yanksarecoming.com or @TYAC_Jon.

Jon Levy

  • Donald Trump

    That dude is a beauty. Nice work, Mr. Levy.

  • Amy

    That video was A-Plus. I think Bayern will certainly miss their playmaker in the Final next weekend.

  • Tim

    Ribery and the French have quite a challenge in front of them. It won’t help that the entire world thinks they cheated their way through Qualification.

  • Will

    I won’t even consider reading this article until you apologize to Chris Paul, a man who does NOT look like a horror-movie prop, personally. And his girlfriend, too–have you SEEN Ribery’s wife?

  • Jon

    Jesus Will! Talk about kickin’ a dude when he’s down! The man’s already wobbling on his feet, did ya have to rip his spine out by the neck!?

    Horror-movie prop… Seco was right, Comment Czar.

  • Amy

    I think the Italian guy dislikes the French. Interesting… 🙂

  • Jon

    Maybe the two of them can get together and have a tickle or slap fight until one of them insults the other’s mother/sister and someone throws a forehead!

  • Will

    Love the MK reference!! Although I have to admit, I was always more of a Sub-Zero guy myself.

    Amy: interesting psychological observation. It probably goes to deep-seated issues…which is why I clearly can’t afford to explore that any further.

  • Jon

    Of course you’re a Sub-Zero guy, you just pulled a back, forward, up, down, back, forward, A on Ribery!

  • Gay Derek

    Johnny Cage is like a poor man’s Brad Pitt!

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