Le50 2017 – Yann Bodiger
When Toulouse midfielder Yann Bodiger made the 2016 edition of Le50, it came at a time when he was in and out of the squad and Toulouse were in and in a lot of trouble. After playing a big part in the 2014/15 run-in that saw TFC get to safety, he started only once in the last ten games of the 2015/16 season when the same outcome seemed nigh-on impossible. But whatever prompted manager Pascal Dupraz’ ‘premonition’, to bring him on for the last 20-odd minutes in the last game of the season when they were 2-1 down away at Angers and heading for Ligue 2, Bodiger wrote himself into Tefece history.
First, they equalised through Martin Braithwaite; then, ten minutes from the end, a free kick was awarded. Bodiger stepped up and scored, securing the win that kept Toulouse up. What a time to score your first goal for your club.
After two seasons as a bit-part player, albeit with one cameo that sticks long in the memory, the 2016/17 season needed to be one of consolidation for Bodiger, as he sought to build up game-time and Toulouse sought to not get into that kind of situation again. Both came off. Bodiger doubled his starting appearances, and his club was mostly comfortably mid-table, with a little dip at the end to finish 13th, their lowest ranking of the season. Again, he scored one goal – a penalty in the 2-0 win over PSG in game seven that saw them reach their highest placing of the season, third.
As with the free kick against Angers, you might ask why a young defensive midfielder would be taking a penalty against the reigning champions with a number of more experienced and more attacking players on the pitch, but maybe it was for the same, indefinable, reason as when Dupraz told his assistant on the sideline : “Je sais pas pourquoi, je réfléchis à Bodiger avec son pied gauche. Je sais pas pourquoi mais j’ai ça en tête.”
Apart from those two bijoux, and scoring as fourth taker in a Coupe de La Ligue penalty shoot-out against Metz, Bodiger’s main strengths are more in keeping with his position, a reliable source of interceptions and blocks as he acts as a shield in front of the backline. His tacking can still be a little erratic, with three card suspensions in his first two seasons followed by further enforced bench-time after a red and seven yellows last term.
Bodiger had a good run in the U20s, including their Toulon win in 2015, beating the USA, Costa Rica, Holland, and, in the final, Morocco, and made the step up to les Espoirs in the 3-2 friendly win over England in November. Now 22, his hopes of any further international appearances seem very slim, given the wealth of options available in and around his position. Again, therefore, he will be looking to continue to build his club career, this time seeking to establish himself as an ever-present. With Toulouse also looking to build on a calmer season last term, his chances of achieving this, with the apparently instinctive support of his manager, look good.