INTERVIEW (1/2) – Stade Rennais. Florian Maurice: « There is a new cycle which begins »
A little over a year ago, Nicolas Holveck and Julien Stéphan surrounded Florian Maurice for his presentation to the press after the officialization of his arrival in Rennes. Until then responsible for the recruitment unit at Olympique Lyonnais, the former French international striker finds himself in the spotlight with a new role of « technical director« , or sports director to use a more common name. After a transfer window and a half, a turbulent first season ended with a fourth consecutive European qualification for the club, Florian Maurice evokes for France Bleu Armorique the news of Stade Rennais and the transfer window in progress.
The coming season
France Bleu Armorique: A new season starts this Sunday, can you already give us your perspective on the preparation: do you feel the team is ready?
Florian Maurice : I think she’s progressing. Our last match (victory against Torino 1-0, Editor’s note) did us good: we needed to be reassured, both in terms of the game and the result. Even if we inside we were rather reassured because we see every day what is happening and we are confident about what has been put in place since the start of the preparation. We haven’t had very successful friendly matches in terms of the result, but in terms of the game we are developing things and I think that is taking shape. Yes, I think we are ready.
FBA: What is the club’s goal this season? Do better or as well as last season?
Florian Maurice : We always aspire to do better. We are building a team to do better, we hope that the results will be better, both in the championship, the European Cup and the Coupe de France in particular. We want, as the objectives have been set for us and as we have set them ourselves, to be European at the end of each season. This is the priority objective today. It will go through a very good championship, or a cup victory. And there is also this dam which, if we win it, will allow us to show what we are capable of on the European scene.
FBA: There is also real competition in Ligue 1, with a lot of competitors who have strengthened themselves. Stade Rennais has also recruited. How do you judge the teams with which you want to fight for European places?
Florian Maurice : There are clubs that will always be there: Paris, Monaco, Lyon which has a quality workforce even if they haven’t recruited much. I find that Monaco has recruited a lot and rather very well. There are still a few weeks before the end of the transfer window, it is also up to us to adjust a few things if necessary …
FBA: You mentioned it a little, there is also this deadline for the Europa League Conference play-off, it is a primary objective for this month of August: we must not miss it?
Florian Maurice : (smile) No indeed, it will be an important match. I think it will be Rosenborg given the result of the first leg against Domzale (6-1 for the Norwegians, Editor’s note). It will be a very important match in August, which will have to be considered, we want to play this European Cup, even if it is the « C3 », we want to play regularly, every Thursday, to confront which makes it outside of France … These will be two very important matches.
FBA: What place for young players who join the workforce like Ugochukwu, Diouf, Abline, Omari and Tchaouna?
Florian Maurice : There are many, in different positions. They are expected to be able to show the tip of their nose, and that is what they are already doing. I even think that some will have playing time that will allow them to show their qualities throughout the season! If by luck we pass, we will play on Thursday and then on Sunday, with a series of games that could be important, so we will need a large workforce. I think that these players, even very young since we are talking about boys born in 2003, 2004 see 2005, will be able to be on the game sheets and even on the field very quickly.
The current transfer window
France Bleu Armorique: What occupies you at the moment is obviously the transfer window. The club recorded important departures: Nzonzi, Grenier, Da Silva, we can add Niang and Léa-Siliki on the start. Is this the end of a cycle? There are not many winners of the Coupe de France 2019 in the workforce.
Florian Maurice : Yes indeed, but you know in football there are a lot of changes, of players who arrive, who leave … Here we are on players who have been there for two, three years, see more. So necessarily there is a new cycle starting, with a new trainer who arrives with his ideas. I’m also adapting to that in relation to recruitment, and I think it’s important to regenerate the workforce. We also have young players who are arriving, who are already in the squad, who have already shown great things, so it’s up to us to integrate them little by little so that they are part of this cycle which could be very interesting.
FBA: Isn’t there a need to bring experience to these young people? In an interview with Ouest-France, Flavien Tait notes that at 28 he is one of the oldest players in the locker room.
Florian Maurice : He has experience at 28 Flavien! If he waits until he turns 35 to have experience (laughs) …
FBA: But don’t we need more of the experienced players?
Florian Maurice : Yes, maybe more are needed, but in principle I’m not someone who thinks that because we’re old, we have character and personality. Experience yes, but it is not necessarily that … I think that at 20 years old, 21 years old, there are players, and in particular one who has just arrived, who show a lot of personality already at inside the locker room and on the pitch. Yet he is only 21 years old.
FBA: Are you talking about Loïc Badé?
Florian Maurice : Yes, among others. He is one of the players who arrived and who settled very well in the locker room, and who have this natural leadership. Yet Loïc has a Ligue 1 season behind him, and I think he could be one of the players who will be driving forces for the club, such as Hamari Traoré, Serhou Guirassy, Martin Terrier, who are 24,25, 26 years old (Hamari Traoré is 29 years old, Editor’s note) … It will also be necessary for these players to take the leadership to bring everyone. And I also think of Flavien Tait.
FBA: What priorities before the end of the transfer window? A midfielder as Bruno Genesio says?
Florian Maurice : Yes that’s the goal, we’ve been working on it for a few months now. We don’t do it at the last minute, but we see that the market is very closed, very complicated, that not much is happening at the moment. There are free players who sign here and there, but in hard transactions we can not say that things are going very far. Apart from the transfer of Grealish to Manchester City, which will perhaps lead to other clubs to recruit, and cause a game of musical chairs … We may have to take advantage of this situation by the end of the transfer window.. As quickly as possible, so that the rookie can play quickly, perhaps from the jump-off. But yes we are trying to strengthen ourselves in the middle.
FBA: Are these arrivals conditioned by the result of the jump-off? Did the tracks mentioned, such as Ajax’s Alvarez or Koopmeiners, ask you for the guarantee that Rennes will play in the Europa League Conference groups?
Florian Maurice : Honestly, no. They didn’t ask us that, and I think we’re an attractive club. But it is sure that playing the European Cup, for this style of players who play it regularly, that is part of their ambitions. But it is not necessarily this roadblock that will be decisive.
FBA: And if there is an opportunity on a goalkeeper, will Stade Rennais move, or do we trust the players in place for the moment?
Florian Maurice : For now we trust the players we have. I cannot comment on that at the moment.
FBA: Where are we with the Camavinga file, whose contract ends in 2022? A deadline had been set at the end of June for a decision, is there a risk that he leaves for free?
Florian Maurice : We are still at the same point, as I said earlier the market is very difficult. It may also be linked to movements in other clubs …
FBA: (cut) So that means that priority is given to a start? A priori there will be no extension?
Florian Maurice : That’s what I always say: when a player comes to the end of the contract, either we extend it and we find a solution, or we have to find a solution for a departure. Going free, for a club kid like him, I don’t think that’s good for anyone.
FBA: Does he have a choice? Does the final decision rest fully with him?
Florian Maurice : He has the choice to say « I want to stay » or « I want to leave ». I know what he wants to do, then we have to find a solution that can satisfy both parties.
Find very quickly the second part of our interview with Florian Maurice, where the technical director of Stade Rennais talks about his daily role for more than a year at Stade Rennais.