Yann M’Vila – Inter and her new ‘Enfant Terrible’

Kevin Pogorzelski Date:24th July 2014 at 7:50am
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Despite an array of midfield options available, the departure of the ageing Esteban Cambiasso left Inter lacking a top quality defensive shield as they look to better the fifth place finish under new coach Walter Mazzarri. Therefore, much focus will be aimed at the signing of the controversial Frenchman Yann M’Vila.

Previously targeted by Premier League trio Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, on his day, the 24-year-old has all the attributes to hold his own with the Nerazzurri in Serie A, if not become the standout defensive-midfielder in Europe.

However, while the former Rennes man impressed in Ligue 1 and with France, several scandals on and off the pitch have seen high profile suitors shelve moves for the youngster leading to his eventual €12m transfer to Rubin Kazan in January 2013.

Concerns over the young talents’ character were highlighted as early as his mid-teens when ‘friction’ with officials at Amiens were cited as the reason for an unceremonious departure to Mantes, where he then spent just one month, before an apparent lack of progression took him to Rennes’ door in 2004.

Finally M’Vila flourished, and within five years was included in the first-team squad for the 2008-09 campaign only to be snubbed by coach Guy Lacombe, who questioned his attitude and viewed him as a loose cannon.

“If he had a black season, it is more his fault than that of the coaches,” Lacombe told France Football.

Lacombe departed, yet early the following season his caution appeared justified, M’Vila sent off against Lens for a dangerous two-footed lunge from behind on Razak Boukari that nearly cost his side the game, however, over the next three seasons the decision of Frederic Antonetti to blood the protégé was vindicated.

Still just that solitary domestic dismissal to his name, the defensive midfielder became the epitome of how to excel in the role with a work-rate and ball-winning ability bringing comparisons with ex-Inter man Patrick Vieira, not to mention a fantastic range of passing.

Underpinned by excellent defensive awareness and physicality, in his next two seasons he led Ligue 1 in passes attempted and completed to cement himself in Laurent Blanc’s national team, however, while concerns of indiscipline on the pitch were dispelled he was becoming the source of unwanted media attention away from it.

In January 2010 he assaulted a restaurant owner following a traffic incident, before he and an associate were robbed by two prostitutes in the March of that same year.

With his reputation growing though, the first signs of a move away from his homeland appeared and Arsenal prepared a €20m bid, but backed out when his temper flared again in April 2012, held back by club security from assaulting a heckler and a month later spent the night in a police cell after punching a 17-year-old boy at his home.

Those misdemeanors were brushed aside as the midfielder was included in the France squad for Euro 2012, but the petulant refusal to shake Blanc’s hand after being substituted during their elimination to Spain brought a one match suspension.

That would be the least of his worries to his international career, which stands at an impressive 22 caps, as an unauthorised night out with four under-21 teammates in November 2012 earned an 18-month ban and ended hopes of World Cup participation.

After a year out of the limelight, impressing with Les Rouges et Noirs saw interest for his signature returning, therefore, it was somewhat surprising that he headed to Russia although a new controversy reared its head when explicit photos and texts of his were discovered on the phone of an underage prostitute.

Then, when Liverpool approached him in January 2014, he went AWOL after coach Rinat Bilyaletdinov offended him by suggesting M’Vila was ‘not at their level’ and would merely ‘sit on the bench’ at Anfield, fleeing to France to cure an apparent injury.

“In January M’Vila behaved badly,” Bilyaletdinov announced. “One day he trained, one day he didn’t.

“Maybe his agents had promised him something. He thought he was already in Liverpool.”

Even with all this considered a season-long loan deal at the San Siro is of minimal risk for Inter, and if a reasonable purchase fee has been agreed, it could prove a particularly fruitful long-term decision given his attributes and those the Nerazzurri need to challenge again.

With the club reported to be negotiating deals with other midfield enforcers, they appear to be protecting themselves should the gamble on this talented, yet unpredictable prospect backfire.

If Mazzarri can get the Frenchman operating to his full potential, there would be few to equal him on Serie A pitches next term and maybe for years to come.

Follow Kevin Pogorzelski on Twitter: @rabbitrabbiton