Right Place, Wrong Time: A Tribute to Bafetimbi Gomis


Watching Galatasaray’s humiliating Europa Cup elimination to Ostersunds last month, it struck me that Bafetimibi Gomis has a remarkable knack of being in the right place at the wrong time.

Now 31, the French striker finds himself in Istanbul as part of a squad overhaul prompted by Gala’s wretched fourth place finish in last year’s Super Lig. There is little doubt that Bafe would have preferred to remain with Marseille, for whom he scored 20 times last season, but it seems new owner Frank McCourt has grander plans. A shame as a season at the Velodrome was the perfect rehabilitation for Gomis after his underwhelming spell at Swansea.

South Wales was also poorly timed for Gomis: his arrival neatly coincided with the team’s transition from a well-run and widely admired Premier League outfit to basket case following another American takeover and the sacking of Garry Monk in 2015. Before that? Well, a largely successful five years with Lyon included a Coupe de France victory in 2012, but bear in mind that he’d joined a club in 2009 that had only recently ended their run of seven consecutive league titles.

So who, or what, is to blame? Does Gomis have the midas touch in reverse? Or has he just been plain unlucky?

Bafe has always fascinated me.

The case for: power, physique and ‘panther’ celebrations. Unfailingly polite and likeable, with a quaintly archaic turn of phrase. The son of Senegalese immigrants who has spoken of his ’embarrassment’ and ‘shame’ at their illiteracy and his own limited education, abandoned at Year 10 level.

The case against: languid, continually offside, a cumbersome ‘wardrobe’ player in the words of one Swansea forum, a wasted talent with just 12 caps for his adopted country.

There have been some fleeting highlights in a career that started in Troyes, on loan from Saint-Etienne, way back in 2004; two muscular goals on his international debut against Ecuador in 2008, the fastest ever Champions League hat-trick as Lyon crushed Dynamo Zagreb 7-1 in 2011 and a thunderbolt winner for Lyon against Rhone rivals Saint-Etienne the following year. But since then, until Marseille at least, there has been much less to report.

It is tempting to conclude that Gomis is simply heading to Turkey for a final pay-day. His reported salary of €6m per year follows a £70,000 per week contract at Swansea, so all is well on the financial front. And while Galatasaray’s gamble on a raft of new signings (other key recruits include Younas Belhanda from Dynamo Kiev and former Porto centre-back Maicon) may reap dividends, which you can follow with free live streaming on Freebets.com, it is hard to see Bafe repeating last year’s loan form at Marseille. An emotionally intelligent character, he needs to be happy and settled off the pitch to deliver on it and with Galatasaray already out of Europe, patience and understanding may be in short supply.

One of Ligue 1’s most recognisable characters has gone quietly, a panther with its tail between its legs. Let’s hope that the Super Lig sees some flashes of the old Bafe but I fear it will be no more than that.

You can follow this article’s author, Sir Chips Keswick (we cannot possibly confirm whether or not it is the real, actual one), on Twitter @Sirckeswick


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