Having watched Florent Malouda for the past four years, I have seen first hand his rise from a second half substitute to a first team regular. This is Flo’s story.
Having arrived from Lyon in the summer of 2007, great things were expected of World Cup finalist Florent Malouda.
However his first season didn’t exactly go to plan and was seen by many Chelsea fans as a ‘flop’, he struggled to make the first team and had injury troubles. Flo made only 11 starts in the league, scoring just the once in the process.
He then, like most of the Chelsea team, endured a tough time under Luiz Felipe Scolari, Florent then suffered another injury set back in November before returning to both form and fitness under temporary First Team coach Guus Hiddink, Flo ended the 2008-2009 season as Chelsea’s most improved player, finishing with 6 goals from 17 starts.
His end of season form carried onto the 2009-2010 season, under current boss Carlo Ancelotti and know finds himself one of the first names on the team sheet, Malouda finished his third season with 15 goals in all competitions. Flo has also won his first English league title and two FA Cups in the process.
Having started his early life as a street footballer in Cayenne, Flo’s skills quickly attracted interested from French Ligue 2 side Chateauroux. Malouda made his debut at the tender age of 16 and went on to make a further 56 appearances for the club before signing for top division side Guingamp, where he linked up with current team mate Didier Drogba.
Malouda made 92 appearances for the Ligue 1 club before his talents earned him a move to the current French champions Lyon, where Malouda started to make his name on the European stage with several eye catching performances in the Champions League. At Lyon, Flo linked up with another current teammate Michael Essien who had also signed at the same time.
It was at Lyon where Flo earned his first call up to the French National team. Florent won four consecutive titles with Lyon, also winning the Ligue 1 player of the year award in his last season at Lyon, before signing for Chelsea in 2007.
Flo’s early Chelsea career had started brightly, scoring his first Chelsea goal in his first competitive game against Manchester United in the FA Community Shield. However, Florent failed to muscle his way into the starting 11 under Jose Mourinho, while Salomon Kalou was the preferred choice of attack during the Avram Grant reign.
His second season started with a lot of time on the bench, and his real form didn’t start until after a knee injury in November that kept him out of the team until Boxing Day. He returned as an inspiring figure in the Chelsea line up, setting up two goals in Chelsea’s famous Champions League semi final win at Anfield.
Flo also scored the equaliser in the FA cup semi final win against Arsenal. He also put in a fantastic performance against Barcelona and Lionel Messi in particular, while playing at left back in the first leg of the Champions League semi final clash; in the second leg he was denied a clear-cut penalty by ‘referee’ Tom Henning Ovrebo.
He continued his sparkling form in the FA cup final against Everton, setting up the equaliser for Didier Drogba, before himself having a goal not given although replays showed it was clearly over the line. Malouda’s form started to attract huge European interest from the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan, although committed his future to Chelsea by signing a new four-year deal in 2009.
Following his impressive form in the latter part of the 2008-2009 season, Malouda has confirmed himself as a key figure in Carlo Ancelotti’s side, finding himself playing a slightly more central role. Flo’s assists were just as important as his goals, he provided several key assists including one for Joe Cole against nearest title rivals Manchester United.
He also provided two assists against London rivals Arsenal in a 2-1 win. His good form in FA Cup semi finals continued, scoring Chelsea’s second in a 3-1 win over Aston Villa and finished the season with 15 goals and 15 assists in all competitions but was controversially left out of the team of the season. He finished his third full season in English football with a league and cup double to add to his collection of medals.
Malouda has continued to go from strength to strength during his time at Stamford Bridge, and his start to the 2010/2011 season has been Florent’s best yet, scoring 6 goals in his first 5 games, including two goals in the first game of the season against Wigan.
He also earned the captains armband for his national side in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Belarus. Malouda has put down his fine form to his manager, speaking to France Football “Ancelotti has allowed me to reach a new level…. I had some frank talks with him – and that’s how a special relationship was born.”
So far this season Malouda has scored seven goals in his seven games for Chelsea and is arguably the best midfielder in the country at the moment, as well as being one of Ancelotti’s first names on the team sheet week in, week out.