Toulouse FC's Yann Gboho celebrates a goal against Nice

How Yann Gboho Is Driving Toulouse's Rise

How Yann Gboho Is Driving Toulouse's Rise

Publish on 03/06 at 15:00 - E. DEVIN


Toulouse FC are one of the league's form teams of late, and January signing Yann Gboho is a big part of the reason why on his return to French football.

There’s no doubt Toulouse FC will be frustrated with their narrow elimination in the Europa League, despite having kept Benfica from scoring from open play. The holders of the Coupe de France, they were also eliminated from that tournament in frustrating fashion, going out to Rouen on penalties. In the Ligue 1, though, things look rather different.

A home loss to Nantes a month ago will surely sting, but aside from that match, Les Violets have won four of five matches in Ligue 1. Their safety is yet to be assured, given how packed the bottom of the table is, but the team is certainly breathing more easily now than it was a month ago.

While the return of players like defender Logan Costa and forward Franck Magri will have helped, with the same being true for an upturn in form for Thijs Dallinga (four goals and an assist in five matches), the common thread in this strong run of results has been the strong play of Yann Gboho.


A starter in all but the win over Lille last weekend — where he came off the bench and provided an assist, the January arrival has been a breath of fresh air for the team. Since arriving from Cercle Brugge, the Stade Rennais academy product has averaged two fouls suffered and 1.6 dribbles completed per match, both top ten marks in the league, giving his side an unpredictability and skilfulness that’s been lacking in the wake of a long-term injury to Zakaria Aboukhlal.

Born in Côte D’Ivoire, Gboho spent time as a youngster in both Gabon and Martinique, before coming to France and joining Rennes’ academy in 2013. Cousins Guela and Désire Doué were a part of the setup, as was Eduardo Camavinga, and the team picked up national titles at U-17 and U-19, but opportunities to make his name in the first team were limited, with the likes of Ismaïla Sarr and Raphina ahead of him in the pecking order, something that was made worse when Bruno Génésio replaced Julien Stéphan, as the player told l’Équipe recently:

“When I started playing with the first team, the team was winning. When this stopped happening, automatically, it is the youngsters who are taken out. After replacing Julien Stéphan, Bruno Génésio never gave me a chance. As a result of this, I was quite impulsive and very angry, and I struggled. I used to be hot-headed, but now I am more calm.”

After impressing on loan with Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands, though he joined Cercle in the summer of 2022, becoming a regular in a talented side that finished in the European playoff places. With nine assists and four goals, his creativity and ability on the ball made him a vital piece for the Groen-Zwart, but he relished coming back to France, feeling it was a matter of unfinished business.

Arriving early in the month, his polyvalence has helped him become an integral part of Carles Martínez Novell’s set-up, even as the Spaniard has experimented with different tactical systems, as he did on Sunday by playing with three at the back. Able to play with Dallinga in a two, or off the left, his versatility and workrate have helped make him indispensable, lending a level of unpredictability to the team’s attack.

Novell said as much to the press early in his spell at the club, praising his contributions to the win over Reims, “We gained more verticality, we can attack the seams. On Sunday, they always worked to attack and to bring the ball up from the back. Gboho offers a middle ground between receiving the ball between the lines and finding spaces.”

Speaking after scoring the winner against Nice this weekend, Gboho took the long view of his progress, averring that finding the net was only a matter of time, “I’m feeling good, this goal rewards my good performance over the last few weeks. I’ve only been missing a goal, so I'm happy. It's something I wanted to improve upon. In terms of my play, I've always been fine, but the statistics ... I'm on the right track, it's up to me to continue like this.”

Based on the recent evidence, there’s every chance that Gboho can do exactly this, continuing to help power his team up the table.

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