Amalfitano: 'Lorient have been the right club for me'
He may not be the most high-profile player in Ligue 1, but Morgan Amalfitano is drawing more and more attention, both from within France and from overseas. The Lorient midfielder spoke to Ligue1.com about his path to the top....
At the age of 26, Amalfitano seems finally to be coming of age. Born in Nice, he graduated from the youth academy in nearby Cannes before making his professional debut with Sedan in Ligue 2. However, the player himself admits that his time spent in the Ardennes was not always a smooth ride.
"It was a real roller-coaster ride in truth, and a big change for me, but I learnt a lot there. It was the start of my career and I will always remember the time I spent there. They are good memories. There were some tough times, but that only makes you stronger. I really enjoyed my time at Sedan," he said of his five years spent at the Stade Louis-Dugauguez.
In 2008, Sedan just missed out on promotion to the top flight. At the age of 23, Amalfitano had reached a crossroads for the first time in his career. Ligue 1 clubs were queuing up for his signature, and in the end, he chose Lorient.
'Lorient believed in me'
"I had a few offers,” he went on. “But it was Lorient that showed the most desire to get me and who believed the most in my qualities. That's what made the difference. If I had gone to a supposedly bigger club, I'm not sure I would have been able to express myself as much as I have done here. Only time will tell whether or not it was the right choice, but I for one have no doubts."
"When he first signed here he had the individual talent, but lacked a little discipline,” explains Christian Gourcuff, his coach at the Stade du Moustoir. “He's been able to keep his creativity and he still has the aggressive side to his game, but he's also become a real team player. The discipline and the team play allow him to express his individual qualities even more and I'm convinced it will help him in the future."
Lethal partnership with Gameiro
Now an important piece in the Lorient puzzle, Amalfitano has become something of a machine when it comes to laying on goals for others. Lorient’s all-time leading scorer Kévin Gameiro will certainly attest to that. Between the two of them, they have scored more than sixty per cent of their side’s goals this season.
"I think our partnership is still getting better,” says Amalfitano. “We joined the club at the same time and we're always fine-tuning our combinations and understanding of one another. I think the fact that we play so well together is down to a lot of hard work, but instinct also plays it’s part.”
However, Amalfitano is set to leave Lorient when his contract expires this summer. In France, both Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain are said to be keen on his signature, but interest from overseas is strong too, with Aston Villa and Sevilla believed to be keeping a close eye on his progress.
Ready to move on
"Nothing has been decided yet, but maybe it's time to head overseas,” he conceded. “I'm 26, and I think I'm ready now. If I get the chance to go overseas, then why not? That said, If I end up staying in France, it will certainly be with one of the big clubs here. You need to earn that sort of transfer and I think I have. If a French club wants me, great, if not, I'll go looking to enjoy myself and my football elsewhere!"
But before leaving, Amalfitano hopes to help Lorient qualify for next season’s Europa League. That would be his way of thanking Les Merlus for their role in his progression over the past three years.