Life is rarely dull when Marcelo Bielsa is around. There’s a reason they call the legendary Argentine tactician ‘El Loco’ after all. And, true to form, his first few games at Ligue 1 side Lille have swung from the sublime to the simply ridiculous.
Les Dogues displayed all the traits of a Bielsa-drilled side as they battered Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes on the opening day of the new season but a 3-0 reverse to newly promoted Strasbourg last weekend certainly wasn’t in the script.
And the struggles of left-back Fode Ballo-Toure perhaps summed up a miserable evening on the Franco-German border, though goalkeeper Mike Maignan, sent off for throwing the ball at an opponent’s head, may have something to say about that.
The 20-year-old defender joined Lille this summer when his contract at PSG expired and he endured a miserable second game for the club. So much so that he was subbed off after just 37 minutes, despite the fact Bielsa had already been forced to replace Kevin Malcuit and Thiago Mendes due to injury.
Maignan’s red card, which left striker Nicolas De Preville donning the gloves, rather summed up the evening.
Yet, it’s fair to say Ballo-Toure didn’t exactly display the kind of form that saw him stand out in the UEFA Youth League for PSG last season and earn the admiration of a number of big-name English clubs.
As reported by MadeInFoot, Everton were among those interested in the highly rated youngster (below, far right), The Toffees scouring the continent to unearth hidden gems.
With age catching up to Leighton Baines, Everton may need a new long-term successor at left-back and it was believed they had identified Ballo-Toure as a player with great potential.
For now, however, lasting till half time would be a step in the right direction.