Although Standard’s start to the season has been almost as tumultuous as preparations off it , there’s reasons to be hopeful for Ron Jans’s side in the long run – thanks to some astute deals. One of which is French youngster Frederic Bulot – Just Football editor Jonathan Fadugba gives us the lowdown.
Following Stade Malherbe Caen’s relegation from Ligue 1 to France’s second tier on the final day of last season it was inevitable that several players would leave for pastures new. For some, like Thomas Heurtaux, deals were already in place long before the season’s finale. For others it was clear that, even if the ship did sink, their lifejackets were big enough to ensure survival for a while yet.
With Caen’s Ligue 2 life well under way now, the majority of their best players have either left already or will do before the close of the transfer window. Most are being linked to bigger French clubs or, in the case of M’Baye Niang, Arsenal. However, another talented player in Caen’s ranks has made the move some 600km north east from Normandy to Liege, joining new coach Ron Jans in a new era at Standard.
As is increasingly becoming the norm in these modern times, and following in the footsteps of Belgium’s own Eden Hazard, Frederic Bulot’s transfer to Standard Liege was announced via the player’s Twitter feed at the end of June.
On the back of an encouraging first season at Caen, the move to Belgium came initially as a surprise, perceived in some quarters as a sideways move for a player who had been linked with various high-profile clubs in France. Nevertheless, for a fee of roughly €2million Euros, “an offer we couldn’t refuse taking into account the current market” according to Caen sporting director Alain Cavéglia, Bulot will wear the red and white of Les Rouches this season.
For Standard fans, the good news is any hesitation from other clubs interested in Bulot has been to their gain, for it appears they have acquired a player of some promise. The Gabonese-born left winger was one of Caen’s star players for large chunks of the 2011-12 season and, at 21, is at the right age to both prosper in Belgian football immediately and learn more as he develops.
Bulot first came to my attention after signing for Caen from AS Monaco a year ago. His pedigree was spotted at a young age by Les Monegasques after coming through the junior ranks at Tours, and he was lured to the French principality in 2005, a year after their run to the Champions League final.
His first full season with Monaco’s reserve team ended with them being crowned champions and he was part of a talented side that included Marseille’s powerful centre back Nicolas N’Koulou. Bulot progressed to the first team in 2010-11 but after Monaco’s dramatic decline and relegation he was released and snapped up by Caen.
While first team appearances were fleeting in the south, at Caen Bulot was immediately given full responsibility, thrown straight into the team by Franck Dumas to add more creativity and attacking thrust. Bulot’s main attributes are his speed and skill down the left wing and he demonstrated his raw ability early with a string of fine performances, including a goal in a 3-2 defeat at Rennes in only his fourth start.
Despite playing in a team that really struggled for firepower in attack, Bulot was consistently one of Caen’s better forward players during the season. His influence on the team was at its most potent up until Christmas – a period in which he put in his best performances for Les Malherbistes including exceptional performances at Evian and against Dijon, in a 3-0 win in which he simply ran the show. It would be Caen’s last win for three months.
Bulot’s form dipped along with the club’s in the second half of the season, mainly due to a combination of inexperience, inconsistency and – to put it bluntly – being part of a desperately average team.
Nonetheless he ended the campaign with an impressive enough tally of 4 goals and 7 assists in 35 starts, enough to sneak him into the top 10 assist-makers in Ligue 1 for the season. His pass completion rate (78.2%) was also the best of any Caen player to start more than 5 games and he made more key passes than any other player per game (1.2). Not bad for a first full season.
It seems a quiet revolution is now taking place in Liege, with newly-appointed coach Jans making several summer signings already at Standard. Bulot will have to work hard to find his place and bed into a team looking to challenge more than they managed last season. He will most likely be asked to occupy the left flank, but he can also play down the right hand side or as an attacking midfielder if needed.
Having appeared for France at every junior level up to the Under-21s where he is now a regular, the next challenge for Frederic Bulot is to establish himself in a new league not so far from home.
Tagged Alian Caveglia, AS Monaco, Caen, Eden Hazard, France, Frederic Bulot, Gabonese, Les Rouche, Ligue 1, M'Baye Niang, Normandy, Ron Jans, Stade Malherbe Caen, Standard Liège, Thomas Heurtaux, Twitter