Sankharé, the revenant
If Girondins de Bordeaux manage to inflict a first Ligue 1 Conforama defeat of the season on Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes on Saturday, Younousse Sankharé's joy might be tinged with a little sadness.
Once a fan, always a fan, and Sankharé, born in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, was PSG through and through growing up in the French capital's suburbs. He fulfilled his childhood dream of pulling on the Rouge-et-Bleu shirt after joining the club aged 14, making 47 appearances before deciding to leave in 2011 in a bid to further his career.
"I'm a Parisian, and I was lucky enough to play for that football club. When you play for a club like that you get sucked in to the whole atmosphere of the place. It's very special playing for PSG, the rivalry with Marseille," Sankharé, who after spells at Dijon FCO and Valenciennes FC finally found regular top-flight playing time following his transfer to En Avant Guingamp, told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS.
"At PSG, I didn't get as many chances as I'd have liked, but that's the way it is. At top level clubs, it's hard for young players to break through. These days PSG buy a lot of great players. Today, there is one youngster, [Adrien] Rabiot, who is shining, but how many didn't make it? A lot. He's the only one. Paris is difficult. As a young player, you can't afford to lose time, you have to play."
WATCH: Sankharé opens his account in Week 1
Since leaving the capital, Sankharé has done just that, making great strides forward just as his rangy build allows him to do on the pitch. After Guingamp came LOSC Lille where, after just six months, his former boss Jocelyn Gourvennec arrived with an offer.
"It happened quite naturally. He called me up and asked how things were going at Lille. I said it wasn't easy, the results were poor. He said, 'Listen, I want to bring you to Bordeaux'. The next day, I arrived in Bordeaux with my back pack."
Gourvennec: 'He's at peace with himself'
"He feels good in this team," explained Gourvennec, who has seen the midfielder flourish this season with a joint-team-high three league goals already. "I think he's a happy in his private life too. He's experienced some difficult times in recent years. I've always been close to him, and helped him when he's had personal issues. This is now coming through in his behaviour and in his performances because he's at peace with himself."
Sankharé, now 28, is starting to fulfill the potential he showed as a youngster at PSG, talent that — allied with his long-limbed build — led to inevitable comparisons with French great Patrick Vieira. His performances have seen parallels drawn between the Bordeaux man and former AS Monaco midfielder Yaya Touré, now at Manchester City.
WATCH: Sankharé maraudes forward to score
"Ah thanks for the compliment! He's a top player, world class. I try to emulate him because he's one of my favourite players. My favourite player was Patrick Vieira, and Emmanuel Petit. I really watched them when I was a kid. They had a similar playing style to me so I watched them a lot," said Sankharé, who hopes to continue onwards and upwards.
"It has taken me time to get here. But I never stopped working through the years. At 28, it's clear that a footballer is at his peak. So, I hope to play well for Bordeaux and to go as far as possible with Bordeaux because they're my club right now. Then who? We'll see, a footballer's career can change very quickly."