Seeing the state of the cockpit, Walter Sabatini took fright. At the end of February, the sporting director of Salernitana learned that one of his players had been the victim of a road accident about forty kilometers from Salerno. “He hit a red light and he suffers from a traumatic brain injury considered mild“, he is told. “He” is a certain Franck Ribéry, who joined this magnificent historic city in southern Italy last summer. “After I saw the car, I just said, ‘I’m glad you didn’t die.‘”, revealed the leader in the columns of The Gazzetta dello Sport. The club assured that the former Bayern Munich player was not behind the wheel but announced that they had fined him for this nighttime incident.
Since this unfortunate episode, “FR7” has not trod the land. Neither against Inter (0-5) in early March, nor against Sassuolo (2-2) last week. He should however return to the bench this Sunday during the match against Juventus Turin (3 p.m.) which promises to be very difficult for the red lantern, whose maintenance operation is certainly difficult but not impossible. The Granata, who have 16 points in the standings, are indeed nine points behind Cagliari, 17th, but two games behind. Problem: they failed to win two recent duels against direct rivals (Genoa, Spezia). But the Salernitana now hopes to be able to count on its flagship rookie from the last summer transfer window, who has still not scored in 16 games played. Since the start of 2022, the native of Boulogne-sur-Mer has only appeared four times.
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Almost a year without scoring
If he does not score against the Old Lady on Sunday in Turin, Ribéry will complete a full year without having scored. His last goal dates back to March 21, 2021, with Fiorentina, a club which did not retain him last summer at the end of his two-year contract. And even if Ribéry has never been a “bomber”, such a shortage would be a first for him at the highest level. At almost 39 years old and after having won everything, the former French international remains no less important in a locker room which was revolutionized last January with a dozen arrivals.
“He is an extraordinary human being, he helps his teammates, he participates tenaciously despite his rich historySabatini, however, said during his interview with the Journal about the tormented season of his player, affected in particular by the Covid-19, which forced him to stay at home in January, a period “very difficult“, he wrote on Instagram. His recovery therefore took time. When he returned from the winter break, it even lasted until February 7 and the match against Spezia. In a team with a big heart but undeniably very weak, Ribéry always managed to stand out with his technical ease, before the collective limits came to weigh everything down.
A club sold on the wire, three different coaches
In the space of 29 matches, the red lantern has known no less than three coaches. First there was Fabrizio Castori, great artificer of promotion in Serie A last season and dismissed after eight days. Then Stefano Colantuono, his successor, inducted from the 9th to the 25th day. Before Davide Nicola is called to the rescue to straighten the helm of a drifting boat. Three draws and a defeat later, he is still sailing in troubled waters.
A false start… before the real one?
Franck Ribéry could consider leaving the Amalfi Coast at the end of the season. If an extension option is present in his annual contract at 1.5 million euros per year, it is directly linked to the maintenance of his team. In the event of a descent into Serie B, the Frenchman will therefore most likely pack his bags. During the winter transfer window, the media even mentioned the retirement desires of a player who will celebrate his 39th birthday on April 7. The man’s only response to the rumors was a video showing him sweating on a treadmill.
“In recent hours, there has been a change of heart from Ribéry who initially asked to leave and then decided to stay.“, however, admitted Walter Sabatini in an interview on the club’s website, just after the end of the transfer window on January 31. A change of course in extremis to help his team in particular to get out of this almost hopeless situation. Next will probably come the farewell time.
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