Sandwiched Between Guinea and Senegal: When Will the Wait for Bouna End?
Bouna Sarr, the subject of an ongoing tug of war between Guinea and Senegal, still prefers France.
Bouna Sarr may not catch the World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps’ fancy, but it’s no doubt he’s one of the best defenders in the French Ligue 1.
The subject of an on-going tug of war between Guinea Conakry and Senegal, the 26-year-old wasn’t anywhere near attaining his current profile years ago.
Today, he has morphed from the little-known youngster battling for minutes at Metz to not only a league star attraction, but a player majority Euro clubs would want to have in their defensive formations.
In hindsight, Sarr would have just turned out as one of those many league regulars without a buzz. However, his background and ties with the African continent, courtesy of his parents (his father a Senegalese and mother a Guinean), means that he is never far off being a perpetual media topic.
It is for such a reason that he was back making the rounds on back-pages on a path he either seems not keen to follow or doesn’t see the need to walk on.
He’s been on the lips of African football federations from the time he inked the dotted lines, turning professional with FC Metz who have an unblemished record of refining diamonds in the rough to the finished football players.
The Lyon-born worked his way from amateur club Gerland FC to Metz’s B-team with the next stop being to the A-teams’ set up, earning rave reviews and comparisons in the process.
His ability to be a Mr. fit-all-corners made him just the right combination for Marseille to swiftly part with €1.5m to secure his services. His predisposition to also occupy the wing role comes as a plus in the equation.
At Marseille, renewed concerns over where he gets to play internationally reached unprecedented levels at one point.
Laurent Blanc had toyed with the idea of handing him a call-up, a spine-tingling news for the 26-year-old. But the sensation was short-lived triggered by the appointment of Deschamps as Blanc’s replacement after an array of unprepossessing displays by the Les Blues under the latter’s tenure.
In the defender’s world, Didier may one day find the requisite to get him playing for the national team which then would sure be a fulfillment of his long-term ambition.
Benjamin Pavard of Stuttgart and Monaco’s Djibril Sidibe stand in his way in the national squad, and both are mainstays like the stands overlooking the Stade de France grounds. Unless injuries knock the pair off their perch, the blue colors of France remain elusive, at least for now.
In retrospect, the selection appears easily handed to French players in the Bundesliga, EPL, Serie A or La Liga than those in the French domestic Ligue 1.
Even if the winger-turned defender is included, history has shown players above 26 often have continuity problems with coaches who are more receptive to working with early and mid-twenty stars.
Over here in Africa, Senegal and Guinea are hoping to persuade him to turn out in their national colors but the footballer perhaps isn’t keen about playing in front of African fans.
Both have been turned down on many an occasion. First, Guinea Conakry invited the Marseille man to join the Syli Nationale for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Senegal also suffered rejection as Sarr told gaffer Aliou Cisse that he feels French.
“It’s France and nothing else, nothing else is a big word, but I always dreamed of playing for the France team. I’m French; I was born here I only have an attraction for the Blues,” he said in a statement in what almost looked like begging plea fueled by desperation to be named in France’s Russia-bound plane.
This bullish response, made two months ago, underwent a dramatic makeover today when the player announced, in a pre-match conference, he is in no rush to play international football preferring to focus on thriving at his club.
All hopes are not lost, but how long will the wait for Bouna continue?