Former France midfielder Cabaye confirms retirement

By Sports Desk February 19, 2021

Former France international Yohan Cabaye has announced his retirement at the age of 35.

The midfielder had not made a competitive appearance since starting for Saint-Etienne in a defeat to Lyon on March 1, 2020.

Cabaye posted on Twitter: "It is with great emotion that after more than 17 years of passionate love for football, with emotions greater than any other, memories that will remain forever and unforgettable human and sporting encounters, I announce the end of my professional football career.

"If this decision may seem obvious, logical and inevitable to some, having spent 35 years in the world of football, it remains very difficult to take and to accept because my love for football is immense."

Cabaye debuted with Lille in 2005 and won a Ligue 1 and Coupe de France double in his final season with the club in 2010-11.

His performances over his final two campaigns with Lille, in which he scored 18 goals, provided 18 assists and created 140 chances across 90 games in all competitions, earned international recognition and a move to the Premier League with Newcastle United.

Cabaye quickly found his feet in England, scoring five goals and delivering six assists in his debut season as Newcastle fell just short of Champions League qualification.

His form attracted the attention of Arsenal, but Cabaye failed to force through a move in August 2013 and instead enjoyed one of the most productive spells of his career as he scored seven times and laid on a pair of assists in 20 games before departing for Paris Saint-Germain in January 2014.

Two further Ligue 1 triumphs followed, along with success in the Coupe de France and twice in the Coupe de la Ligue, but he failed to establish himself as a regular starter in Paris.

Just 30 of his 57 PSG appearances came from the start and he soon left for Crystal Palace, spending a further three years back in the Premier League before ending his career with Al-Nasr and finally Saint-Etienne.

Cabaye played for his country on 48 occasions, scoring four times.

His first international goal came against Ukraine at Euro 2012 and he was a regular again at the World Cup two years later. France's home European Championship in 2016, where they reached the final, saw Cabaye appear only twice and once as a starter.

Related items

  • Premier League Fantasy Picks: Man City pair look bankers, Bowen could stun Old Trafford Premier League Fantasy Picks: Man City pair look bankers, Bowen could stun Old Trafford

    The Premier League is a week away from its winter break, but a feast of football awaits us before then, along with fantasy point-scoring opportunities.

    Leaders Manchester City head to Southampton and will look to extend their 12-game winning run in the competition, at the expense of opponents who are unbeaten in their last seven league games at St Mary's.

    Manchester United have a tricky assignment against David Moyes' West Ham, and you might consider a Hammers forward to break down Ralf Rangnick's defence at Old Trafford.

    If the time is right to back your strong start to the season, there are proven fantasy league performers to choose from here among this week's picks, and a strong case to be made for others you may not have considered.

    EDERSON (Southampton v Manchester City)

    Pep Guardiola's trusted City goalkeeper has kept more Premier League clean sheets (12) and faced fewer shots on target per 90 minutes (2.2) than any other goalkeeper this season.

    City have faced 50 shots on target across 22 games and have conceded only 13 goals, so another shut-out must be a realistic proposition on the south coast.

    Ederson has played in all but one of those Premier League assignments for City this term, and although Southampton have won three and drawn four of their last seven 2021-22 home league games – their best record since going nine unbeaten from March to October 2016 – it is the visitors who start this clash as strong favourites.

    JOAO CANCELO (Southampton v Manchester City)

    City's defence has been close to watertight this season, but Cancelo's role at full-back is more than just about stopping the opposition.

    Only the Liverpool duo of Trent Alexander-Arnold (10) and Andrew Robertson (6) have provided more Premier League assists among defenders this season than Cancelo (5).

    He has also had 44 goal attempts, with 15 of them finding the target, and his tally of one goal scored will surely grow soon enough.

    DAVINSON SANCHEZ (Chelsea v Tottenham)

    Can Tottenham be trusted to keep a clean sheet against Chelsea, in Sunday's headline game? This choice would represent a gamble, albeit one that can to an extent be rationalised by data.

    Since December 1, Sanchez has been involved in a Tottenham defence that has kept four clean sheets in seven Premier League appearances. Indeed, only Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte (5) has kept more clean sheets during that time among top-flight defenders. New boss Antonio Conte is making a difference at Spurs, no doubt about it.

    The counter-argument here comes with the fact Chelsea have won five of their last six league games against Spurs (D1), and beat them in both legs of the EFL Cup semi-finals.

    RAPHINHA (Leeds United v Newcastle United)

    Leeds United have woken from their slumber in the Premier League, winning twice in a row to climb to 15th place, just three points behind Leicester City in 10th spot.

    Last time out it was Jack Harrison who was the hero, with a hat-trick at West Ham, but Raphinha is their Mr Consistency.

    The Brazilian set up Harrison's match-winning third goal at the London Stadium, and since the beginning of the 2020-21 Premier League season, Raphinha is one of just five players to have registered 10 or more goals, 10 or more assists and created over 100 chances in the English top division.

    JARROD BOWEN (Manchester United v West Ham)

    Former Hull City forward Bowen has been involved in 13 goals in the Premier League this season (6 goals, 7 assists) and opponents Manchester United will be wary of his quality.

    Indeed, only Mohamed Salah (25) and Bowen's West Ham team-mate Michail Antonio (14) have been involved in more Premier League goals this term.

    To strike a slight note of caution, Bowen only has an expected assists (xA) total of 2.94, meaning West Ham have made more of his chances created than they would ordinarily be expected to, while Bowen is slightly lagging behind his expected goals (xG) total of 8.29. That said, the Red Devils will surely not underestimate his threat.

    ROBERTO FIRMINO (Crystal Palace v Liverpool)

    With Salah and Sadio Mane still away at the Africa Cup of Nations, Brazilian forward Firmino again looks set for a starting role as the Reds travel to Selhurst Park on Sunday.

    Firmino has been involved in six Premier League goals against Palace in his last five appearances (4 goals, 2 assists), having been involved in just two across his first seven games against the Eagles in the competition (2 goals).

    Starting with a double in a 7-0 win in this exact fixture last season, each of Firmino's last 10 Premier League goals have all come away from home. Liverpool have won their last six Premier League away games against Palace.

    ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN (Leeds United v Newcastle United)

    Can Newcastle beat the drop? Their best hope before the transfer window opened up a new world of possibilities appeared to lie with the fast feet of Saint-Maximin, and he remains their star attacker for now.

    The French winger has scored in each of his last two Premier League appearances, with those goals earning 1-1 draws with Manchester United and Watford.

    Now here lies the problem with trusting such form: he has never scored in three successive appearances in the competition. However, Saint-Maximin did score in the reverse fixture against Leeds in September, another 1-1 result for the Magpies.

  • Theo Hernandez has found perfect fit as left-back leader for modern Milan Theo Hernandez has found perfect fit as left-back leader for modern Milan

    January has so far been a quiet month for Milan – not that the Rossoneri will necessarily complain.

    While technical director Paolo Maldini has failed to this point in his pursuit of a new centre-back – Lille's Sven Botman was a target – he has crucially kept together a Milan team who are again contending for the Serie A title.

    The side's progress under Stefano Pioli has prompted links between a number of their players and super-rich suitors, with each possible departure having the potential to derail Milan's season.

    Indeed, Theo Hernandez's future could so easily have been the subject of a mid-season soap opera, such is the demand for superstar full-backs in the modern game. 

    Hernandez certainly falls into that bracket. Just three defenders in Europe's top five leagues – Trent Alexander-Arnold (38), Achraf Hakimi (36) and Robin Gosens (35) – have registered more goal involvements than Hernandez's 30 (tied with Raphael Guerreiro) since he joined Milan in 2019. In 2021-22, the France international's nine (matched by Reece James) are topped only by Alexander-Arnold (12) and Jonathan Clauss (11).

    Murmurs of a Chelsea bid were inevitable this month with Ben Chilwell out for the season, while Manchester City – playing right-back Joao Cancelo at left-back – and Paris Saint-Germain – never afraid to splash out at any position – have been credited with an interest in the past.

    Instead, Hernandez looks to be staying at San Siro.

    Hernandez happy at San Siro

    Hernandez, whose existing contract expires in 2024, is widely expected to agree an extension, snubbing the prospect of a big move. Of course, the player, who came through Atletico Madrid's academy, has already had one such transfer.

    Having impressed on loan at Alaves, Hernandez headed to Real Madrid in 2017 for an unsuccessful stay at the Santiago Bernabeu. In a single season in the Madrid first team, the defender was restricted to 13 league appearances (10 starts) and failed to contribute either a goal or an assist, creating a meagre eight chances.

    A return to some sort of form with Real Sociedad was followed by a permanent switch to Milan and at last certainty and a clearly specified role, leading the attack from left-back.

    Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (42), Ante Rebic (32) and Hakan Calhanoglu (31) have since registered more Milan goal involvements in Serie A; Calhanoglu (168), now at Inter, alone has created more chances (107).

    "At Real Madrid, I lacked the confidence to play more loose and drive forward," Hernandez told The Athletic this week. "But at Milan, I've got it.

    "I can link up better with the strikers and forwards. What is it that I like? Attacking and going up the pitch. I play with more freedom to score goals and assist more."

    Perfect fit for Pioli's side

    While these attacking contributions are no doubt what has caught the attention of Chelsea and Co., Hernandez is unlikely to enjoy that same freedom in another side.

    At Milan, the 24-year-old's initial task is often simply to get the team up the pitch and into the final third – something he does exceptionally well; no team-mate since 2019 has carried the ball further (231.7 metres) or progressed further up the field (161.7m) per 90. With the license then to orchestrate the play as he sees fit, Hernandez does not always hug the touchline like other players in his position, preferring instead to come inside and use his close control to beat defenders, taking on opponents with 9.7 per cent of his carries.

    In the final third, as Alexander-Arnold – perhaps far more akin to what was traditionally expected of an attacking full-back – delivers 5.9 open-play crosses per 90, Hernandez opts for this route just 2.3 times over the same period. In fact, the Milan man takes shots himself (1.5 per 90) more often than he creates chances for others (1.3).

    Hernandez has similarities with Gosens (1.9 shots, 1.2 chances created per 90) in this sense, with both posting higher figures for expected goals (Hernandez – 0.17, Gosens – 0.25) than for expected assists (Hernandez – 0.15, Gosens – 0.12). However, unlike Gosens, very much a wing-back at Atalanta, Hernandez is typically playing in a back four.

    The signing of a strong left-sided centre-back like Botman – or Diego Carlos of Sevilla, another mooted option – would therefore appear to represent a commitment to Hernandez and his carefree approach.

    Hernandez's nine errors leading to shots in the past three seasons have resulted in three goals, as many as from errors by Alexander-Arnold (two), Guerreiro (one), Gosens, Hakimi and Clauss (all zero) combined. Such mistakes would surely be less costly with a reliable colleague providing back-up, allowing the full-back to continue attacking effectively.

    The leader from left-back

    Although "a complete defender" in the middle – as Pioli describes the blueprint for Milan's ideal signing – would help, Hernandez is determined to play his part in defensive improvement.

    "A full-back firstly has to defend and then has to attack," he told The Athletic. "That is what I'm improving on, little by little. I'm young still, I have many years of football left, and I'm improving on that defensive phase that I was missing."

    The need for improvement was evident in September's reverse fixture against Juventus, Sunday's visitors, when Hernandez's slack early header in the attacking half allowed the Bianconeri to break and, with the defender unable to recover, score through Alvaro Morata.

    Hernandez could still have teed up a winner at the end of that 1-1 draw when a drive through the middle of the pitch found him in position to slide in Pierre Kalulu for a chance the 21-year-old would like to have back.

    Indeed, Hernandez is far from the youngest, rawest talent in the Milan squad and has increasingly established himself as a leader since the game in Turin, wearing the captain's armband in the team's most recent league win at Venezia and marking the occasion with two goals.

    How he and Milan, stunned by Spezia in midweek, when Hernandez missed a penalty, would love to be celebrating again this weekend. With a contract extension on the horizon, Rossoneri fans soon will be regardless.

  • A year of Tuchel: How has the German fared at Chelsea so far? A year of Tuchel: How has the German fared at Chelsea so far?

    When Thomas Tuchel arrived at Chelsea in January 2021, there were some raised eyebrows and curiosity as to whether the German could succeed where his predecessor, club legend Frank Lampard, had arguably failed.

    It did not take long for Tuchel to do as another German coach had done on arrival in England and turn doubters into believers, leading the Blues to a top four finish (just), an FA Cup final and a Champions League triumph.

    However, with the 48-year-old set to celebrate a year in charge at Stamford Bridge next week, he is experiencing perhaps his first rocky period in England, having won just one of his last seven Premier League games and sitting 12 points behind leaders Manchester City having played a game more.

    Before Tuchel blows out the candles on his anniversary cake, Stats Perform has taken a look at his first year at Chelsea to try and figure out how much of a success it has been, and where things may go from here.

    Welcome to the Premier League


    In appointing Tuchel, who had been out of work since leaving Paris Saint Germain a month prior, Chelsea may have been trying to capture the lightning in a bottle that rivals Liverpool had when hiring Jurgen Klopp a few years earlier.

    Tuchel's journey to England was eerily similar to Klopp's, aside from a stop in France, with an unremarkable playing career eventually leading to a management opportunity at Bundesliga outfit Mainz, via Augsburg's second team, and then on to Borussia Dortmund.

    It was almost an impossible job to follow 'Kloppo' at Signal Iduna Park but Tuchel did well enough to catch the eye of PSG, where he won two league titles, two domestic cups and reached the 2020 Champions League final, before being sacked after a poor start to the Ligue 1 season.

    He even began life in the Premier League with a 0-0 draw in his first game against Wolves, just as Klopp did against Tottenham, but from there you could see the shoots of improvement fairly rapidly, winning his next four and conceding only one goal.

    In fact, Chelsea conceded just twice in Tuchel's 10-game unbeaten start in the Premier League, before a barely believable 5-2 home defeat to ultimately relegated West Brom.

    They recovered to win five of their last eight league games, although a 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa on the last day of the season meant they were reliant on Tottenham for a favour, with Spurs duly obliging as they beat Leicester.

    A promising start to the 2021-22 season saw the Blues lead the way, winning eight of their first 10 games, only dropping points to title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.

    However, since a 2-1 win at Watford at the start of December that even Mason Mount admitted was "one of our worst [performances] so far with the manager", Chelsea's form has plummeted, winning just two of their nine league games since, which has seen them fall well behind City.

    The 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday was Tuchel's 42nd league game since arriving, with his record standing at 23 wins, 13 draws and six defeats.

    When compared to previous Chelsea managers in the Premier League era who have also reached 42 league games, some of Tuchel's numbers are surprisingly lacklustre.

    His win percentage of 55 is well below that of Jose Mourinho (79), Antonio Conte (79) and Carlo Ancelotti (74), and only Lampard (52) had a worse win percentage at this stage of managers who arrived at the club after Roman Abramovich took ownership in 2003.

    He has lost the same number of games as Conte and Ancelotti (six), but no Chelsea manager in the Premier League era has drawn more than Tuchel's 13 after 42 games.

    Goals scored has been an issue as only the teams of Glenn Hoddle (49) and Gianluca Vialli (63) scored fewer goals in their first 42 games in charge, but he has clearly tightened things up at the back with only Mourinho (15) conceding fewer than Tuchel's 31 goals against.

    That said, only Pep Guardiola (2.48) and Klopp (2.00) can boast a superior points per game records in the Premier League since Tuchel (1.95) arrived, so you could argue that form is merely relative to the standard of competition.

    Pressing matters

    Under Lampard in the first half of the 2020-21 season, Chelsea ranked 13th in the league for high turnovers, but in the second half after Tuchel had arrived, they moved up to eighth.

    So far this season for the same metric they sit fifth, behind only Liverpool, City, Brighton and Southampton, so while it has not necessarily become their defined tactic, their pressing has improved markedly under Tuchel.

    The emergence of Reece James and Ben Chilwell also allowed Tuchel to utilise his favoured three at the back system, and to good effect as he has managed to get an impressive amount of goal involvements out of his wing backs.

    Before their respective injuries earlier this season, James managed five goals and seven assists in 52 appearances under the German on the right, while Chilwell got five goals and three assists in 32 appearances from the left. Marcos Alonso has six goal involvements (G3 A3) from 41 games.

    In terms of the Premier League, no defenders have scored more than James or Chilwell (four), which is particularly impressive for the latter as he has played just 17 times in the league under Tuchel, while only Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold (107) and Andrew Robertson (58) as well as Manchester United's Luke Shaw (73) have created more chances than James (54).

    One night in Porto

    Say what you will about Roman Abramovich's penchant for sacking managers, last year marked the second time he has installed a new one part-way through a season and ended up with a Champions League trophy in his cabinet.

    Tuchel followed in the footsteps of Roberto Di Matteo in 2012 by only having to navigate the knockout stages, impressively getting past Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid before a tactical masterclass saw them overcome Manchester City 1-0 in the final.

    It is no wonder that optimism was so high heading into this season, despite a disappointing 1-0 loss to Leicester City in the FA Cup final, and it seemed reasonable to think there was only one more piece to add to the puzzle.

    The Lukaku conundrum

    The reason many were tipping Chelsea to push Manchester City all the way in the Premier League this season was mostly based on the balance that Tuchel had in his team.

    An exceptional goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy, an experienced backline including Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger, almost every kind of central midfielder a coach could dream of with Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Mount among others to choose from, while a young and promising attacking line including Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz was supplemented by £97m man Romelu Lukaku.

    Where were the weaknesses? Well in a twist that very few saw coming, it was in the returning Belgian.

    In fairness to Lukaku, who was brought back to Stamford Bridge after registering 30 goals and 11 assists in 44 games in all competitions last year for Inter, he started well enough as he bagged four goals in his first four games back, while also getting three in two for his country during the season's first international break.

    However, things have gone downhill since then, with Lukaku going 10 games without a goal between September and December and scoring just four goals in his last 19 appearances for the Blues, one of which was in the 5-1 FA Cup third round win against non-league Chesterfield.

    It is not just the lack of goals, though. Lukaku's style of play seems entirely unsuited to what Tuchel is trying to achieve.

    He thrived at Inter playing in a partnership with Lautaro Martinez, but does not look anything like the same player in Tuchel's system that uses one central striker, something that Lukaku himself acknowledged in a recent interview when he indicated frustration at the manager's use of him. 

    Manager and player seemed to bury the hatchet, only for Tuchel to lambast Lukaku again after his showing in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City that all but ended their hopes of the title.

    "[Lukaku] had many ball losses without any pressure, many ball losses in very promising circumstances. He had a huge chance," the Blues boss said after the game.

    "We want to serve him, but he is part of the team, and the performance up front, particularly in the first half, we can do much, much better."

    Next steps

    Almost a year into the job, it feels like a mostly positive experience for both is reaching a crossroads. Chelsea have no doubt improved under Tuchel, but their recent form has been concerning and we're now just waiting to see if it is a blip or simply form reverting to the mean.

    If the German is to get things back on track you feel the key lies with the Lukaku situation. Either he somehow makes the former Everton and Manchester United striker work – and he has already stated he won't change the style of the team to do so – or he opts for a different approach.

    His biggest achievement and definitive performance since arriving at Stamford Bridge was the Champions League win, and the difference in performances from Havertz, striker that night and scorer of the winning goal, and Lukaku's showing against the same opposition last week was night and day.

    That is one big decision to make, but another area where Tuchel might be looking to evolve his team lies with Mount, arguably his most impressive player during the last year.

    The 23-year-old has had more goal involvements than anyone else since Tuchel arrived (22, G13 A9) and the England international is the only attacker in the top 10 players with the most minutes clocked under Tuchel (4,025).

    However, Mount was curiously left on the bench for the trip to City, where Tuchel explained: "We were simply opting for runners. We thought we could break the line more often with Hakim [Ziyech] as a left foot on the left side and going for Christian [Pulisic] as a right side because of the arrival of Christian in the box.

    "Normally, he is a bit more offensive, a bit more of a runner than Mason and we expected the spaces more behind the last line and not in front of the back four from City. So that was the decision."

    It was a curious decision, but was perhaps a way of trying to tempt a bit more out of Mount in terms of his running.

    Tuchel has already achieved more than many thought he would at this stage, reaching an FA Cup final, lifting the Champions League and European Super Cup, and recently winning the FIFA Best coach of the year award.

    However, if he wants to one day be in the conversation to be among the Mount Rushmore of Chelsea managers, maybe unlocking his team's full potential is as simple as making Mount rush more.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.