“Very talented” but “mentally weak”, why is ex-hopeful Farès Bahlouli in Ukrainian D3?

From debut in Ligue 1 in 2013 with his training club to an astonishing adventure at FC Metal Kharkiv (Ukrainian D3). – PASCAL PAVANI / AFP & Instagram FC Metal Kharkiv

  • Perceived as “very talented” when he signed his first professional contract with OL at 18, Farès Bahlouli never managed to win in his training club.
  • After two other missed experiences in Ligue 1 at AS Monaco and Losc, but also a few months without even playing at Lyon-Duchère (National) last year, the 25-year-old attacking midfielder signed up on March 10 with FC Metal Kharkiv, a Ukrainian D3 club.
  • His frequent “overweight” is one of the main reasons mentioned to explain the surprising journey of a “charming boy”, in whom hundreds of faithful “Bahrainists” continue to believe in Lyon.

The 2004 Golden Ball Andreï Shevchenko, who played a bad blow to the Blues on Wednesday with his Ukrainian selection (1-1), probably had no idea that his flight between Kiev and Paris contained an astonishing box in the hold. Inside, a hundred shirts of FC Metal Kharkiv, obscure Ukrainian D3 club, intended to be given to an OL supporter living in Brittany. Kamoulox? The explanation is however clear: they are all accompanied by the Cyrillic flocking of the new number 9 of FC Metal, Farès Bahlouli. Namely one of the beautiful promises of “the formidable academy” of Lyon, which, at only 25 years old (and 31 Ligue 1 matches), is improbably trying to relaunch his professional football career.

They are even 850 “Baaloulists” ready to buy the Ukrainian jersey of the young attacking midfielder. Twitto Jean Fion (30 years old), who already participated in December 2014 in the song
Without Fares (to the tune of Tenderness de Bourvil), is at the origin of this order of shirts live with FC Metal Kharkiv. Able, like many nostalgic for the Tola Vologe period of Farès Bahlouli, to go back seven years after the compilation of a
Vesoul-OL (CFA, ex-National 2), it symbolizes the hype who has never ceased to surround the former international hope tricolor (2 selections).

“On this 1995 generation, there was really Anthony Martial and him”

Emblematic OL trainer, Armand Garrido coached Farès Bahlouli in national U17s. “He’s a boy on whom we placed a lot of hope, a very talented player, who felt the game, who had the right foot,” he explains. In this 1995 generation, there was really Anthony Martial and he who had what it took to aim for the top level. Farès was able to change the matches, as in Annecy where he allowed us to win at the end with a volley of the right in the top corner. It was really a technical gesture from another world. “

Fares Bahlouli has only started once in Ligue 1 with OL, on August 24, 2013 against Reims (0-1).
Fares Bahlouli has only started once in Ligue 1 with OL, on August 24, 2013 against Reims (0-1). – Pascal Fayolle-SIPA

Praises shared at the club, where he often finds himself outclassed as a youngster, before signing professional and being launched into the deep end of Ligue 1 by Rémi Garde at just 18 years old, in May 2013 against PSG (0- 1). “If the U19s needed a reinforcement, we would say to the coach” Take Fares he is capable of it “, the same with the reserve, then the professional group”, remembers Armand Garrido. But he is already aware of a possible brake on this beautiful ascent announced.

18% fat mass at AS Monaco during the summer of 2016

“You had to be behind him and push him around, but as is the case for a lot of talented young people aged 15-16,” he says. It was also necessary to be attentive to its consumption of Coke, kebabs and McDonald’s. It was not unique to Fares Bahlouli either, but we could see that he was not allowed to stay away, unlike others. »Understand that the boy has a tendency to gain weight quickly. So much so that after 14 appearances (326 minutes in total) as pros at OL, he went to Merano (Italy) for treatment to lose 8 kg, at only 19 years old.

Lacking playing time in his training club, he opted for a transfer (3.5 million euros) to AS Monaco during the summer of 2015. His career did not take off either in the Principality, with 11 games played ( 2 goals) in 2015-2016, and three real memories left before a loan (without playing) at Standard de Liège the following season: a sublime lob from the midfielder … with the reserve team, his hug to celebrate the first professional goal by a certain Kylian Mbappé (February 20, 2016 against Troyes), then above all
the result physical tests carried out during the summer of 2016 at the ASM and relayed en masse on social networks. Farès Bahlouli stood out with its 18% fat mass.

With AS Monaco, Farès Bahlouli scored a total of 2 goals in 11 appearances in 2015-2016, as here in the 32nd finals of the Coupe de France against Saint-Jean Beaulieu (10-2).  VALERY HACHE
With AS Monaco, Farès Bahlouli scored a total of 2 goals in 11 appearances in 2015-2016, as here in the 32nd finals of the Coupe de France against Saint-Jean Beaulieu (10-2). VALERY HACHE – AFP

“He managed the feat of gaining weight back home”

It is with Losc, which he joined in January 2017, that the native of Lyon plays “the most” (19 appearances and 1 goal in a year and a half). His last professional match dates back to April 1, 2018, during a Losc-Amiens (0-1). In January 2020, nearly a year after its last official meeting (11 minutes against Sedan with the LOSC reserve in N2), the Lyon Duchère (National) club thinks they have sniffed out the nice move and signed it for six months. “We discovered a charming, nice boy, of great humility with the whole group, and everything seemed to come together to revive him”, indicates the president of the Lyon club Mohamed Tria. Why did he not play the slightest minute with “La Duch ‘”, before the end of the championship in March because of the Covid-19? Mohamed Tria, who did not consider extending his contract for a moment, is very clear on this point.

We had a moral commitment when he arrived so that he would lose 10 kg as quickly as possible. He managed the feat of gaining weight back home when we had brought in a specific coach for him, Bob Tahri. After a month and a half, Bob gave up, telling me that he was not going to achieve anything with him. So Fares has always been overweight here, and as soon as you had to run a bit in training, it became a problem. He did not even have enough mobility to play a match with our reserve in N3 (5th division). I found him mentally weak. I have the feeling that this boy has fallen into luxury too quickly. “

“If it is there, it is because it has lacks”

Armand Garrido, who has been lost on several occasions between the use of the imperfect and the present, to discuss with us the qualities of his former protégé, wonders: “His journey is chaotic. The talent is there, so why isn’t it going? He may have missed some real questioning. I often hear that Hatem Ben Arfa could have had a better career. But Farès Bahlouli’s has so far been much less beautiful than his. His talent deserves much better than that. But he has the career he is creating for himself, and if he is there, it is because he has shortcomings. “

Farès Bahlouli, here during training with his new club FC Metal Karkhiv.
Farès Bahlouli, here during training with his new club FC Metal Karkhiv. – Instagram FC Metal Kharkiv

Is his professional career already behind him, even at 25? “If I come here, to Ukraine in D3, to have fun again, to get back in shape and all, it is because I still believe in it, assured the person concerned in The team Wednesday. Otherwise, I would have quit long ago. “I hope the Ukrainians have other recipes than ours,” smiles Mohamed Tria. In any case, this choice still shows his humility. “Because, however scathing it is concerning his” overweight “, the president of the club duchérois wants like everyone else that Fares Bahlouli finds the high level. In the meantime, FC Metal Kharkiv may soon be considering the creation of an online store to supply the hundreds of loyal “Bahaloulists” in Lyon.

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