The rise of young French international, Yann M’Vila, has been a rapid one. Last season was his first full season, and by the end of it he was showing such promise he received a national call up. His current side, Rennes, are pushing for the league, currently in second place behind Lille. With performances from last season and this season he is being scouted from the top clubs across Europe. Liverpool, Milan, Madrid have all been linked with the player. The powerful midfielder has become a France regular, and along with a host of other young French players coming through, its seems M’Vila will be at the centre of this new French revolution.
M’Vila signed a professional contract with Rennes in 2007 for the 07/08 season, but didn’t make his début until last season, 09/10. At 19 some may see this as young, but for M’Vila it was a long time to wait. “The first time I sat on the bench I was 17 but I didn’t play until I was 19. During those two years I felt some doubt. I was a bit frustrated, I really wanted to play. When I was struggling, I wanted to go on loan in the second division so I could get some matches. Then the new coach Frédéric Antonetti arrived and that gave a new chance to everyone. So I was told not to leave, I was told everyone would get a chance.”
M’Vila chance did come that season, and when he got his chances, he definitely took them with both hands, not wanting to let go of the chance to play football. “My first game, when I came on at Nice, was on the 16th of August. One of our players got sent off so I came on with ten minutes left. My first start was against Marseille. There were various reasons why I played. We had a lot of injuries and suspensions so the coach didn’t really have a choice but to play me, and it went well.” M’Vila became a key player in Antonetti’s side and finished the season playing 35 games. He was also voted player of the season at Rennes for his performances.
M’Vila was showing his maturity and attributed it to how he dealt with things in his life. “I became a father when I was 18 so that made me a bit more mature and I was always getting placed in a higher age group when I was young. I always played with older boys and that helps you to grow up.”
M’Vila’s ability was being noticed and Raymond Domenech included M’Vila in the 30-man shortlist for the World Cup, but unfortunately, or fortunately which ever way you want to look at it, didn’t make the final squad. But it wouldn’t be long before he would get his chance at the senior level for France having played at every level below that. On August 5th 2010, M’Vila was officially called up to the France National team by new manager Laurent Blanc for the team’s friendly match against Norway on 11 August 2010. He earned his first cap starting the game as a defensive midfielder. Despite France losing 2–1, M’Vila was credited as the team’s best player of the match. M’Vila has been a regular in Laurent Blanc’s team since then.
On his call up to Domenech’s 30 squad M’Vila said “I was really surprised and would really have liked to have been in the squad. I’ve forgotten about what happened out there but it would have been the chance to be at a World Cup and to meet players like Henry, Ribéry and Anelka.”
And talking about his France début he said “It’s something very special. It was amazing when he told me I was starting – I really wasn’t expecting that. Playing in Norway as a first-choice France player was just incredible. Just like in my first club game against Marseille, I told myself to give everything and to show people what I’m capable of.”
His manager, Frédéric Antonetti, who gave him his chance said about M’Vila. “Yann still has room for improvement and he’ll improve as he gets older. I can’t recall anyone being a first choice France player at 20, not even Didier Deschamps or Laurent Blanc.”
The future is very bright for the young Frenchman, and no doubt he talents will lead him to the best teams in Europe, but for now he needs to focus on Rennes and possibly winning the French Ligue 1. In December he would remain at the club until 2011-12 season, but now things seem to have changed saying “I will wait until the end of the season to discuss my future with the leadership. Much will depend on how this season ends. Abroad? Yes, I’d love to. When I play for France and I train with great players, I feel like I’m growing athletically. You see the difference immediately when you train with players who are abroad, the level is higher and I want to grow”.
Maybe the best thing for him is to stay in France for a few more years before he makes his move to a bigger stage, but soon enough everyone will know the name Yann M’Vila.