At each gathering of the French football team, the youngest pushes the song in front of his teammates as a hazing. Monday, May 30, two days after the Blues met at the castle of Clairefontaine (Yvelines) to tackle the 3rd League of Nations which begins, Friday, June 3, against Denmark (8:45 p.m.), Boubacar Kamara sang a piece by Marseille rapper Alonzo.
This choice could not better represent someone who was born and raised in the working-class district of La Soude, south of Marseille. The only novice among those selected for the France team for the next four games has a unique emotional bond with Olympique de Marseille (OM). He started in the club at only 5 years old when his parents were subscribers in the north corner of the Stade-Vélodrome.
Seventeen years later, at 22, Boubacar Kamara was called up for the first time with the France A team, after 48 in youth selections and while Senegal – the country of his father – had requested him to join the reigning African champions. “I am very happy, very proud, for me and all my family,” he savored at a press conference on Monday.
“He is there because of what he achieves with his club in a very particular register, even if it is linked to the absence of other players who are used to being there,” said coach Didier. Deschamps when his list was announced on May 19.
OM’s “launch pad”
Its qualities, precisely, are unanimously hailed. If OM finished second in Ligue 1 behind PSG, Boubacar Kamara’s performances are no strangers to it. “He was the metronome in midfield despite his young age, analyzes Fabien Laurenti, former OM right-back and now consultant for France Bleu Provence. His rapid maturity helped in difficult times, he knew how to keep his head above water. He was an essential pawn, the launching pad for the team. »
As soon as he saw this “big personality” for the first time in training, Bernard Diomède was seduced. “Bouba [his nickname] has all the qualities to have a great career, notes the coach of the France under-20 team. He was technically above average: quality of relaunch, game intelligence, calm, serenity. »
“Positive, polite and very kind”, according to Fabien Laurenti, Boubacar Kamara “does not know the pressure”, adds Bernard Diomede, who selected him for the France team from the under-17s to the under-20s. A character trait that allows us to understand the place he has taken at OM.
Versatility that is debating
Boubacar Kamara was only 17 when he entered the professional world in 2016, before playing an important role the following season in Marseille’s journey to the Europa League final (C3). He established himself as an indispensable element in 2018-2019 under the orders of Rudi Garcia who detected interesting potential in the midfield position for this trained central defender.
“Beyond this change of position, I immediately saw his qualities, deciphered Rudi Garcia in L’Equipe on May 21. It’s never easy to get young people to play in clubs like OM, scheduled to play in the European Cup every year and even the Champions League. Those who play necessarily have a very big potential and a very big mind. »
Since then, the position of Boubacar Kamara has continued to fuel debate. “For me, he is a real central defender, but he is so strong that he can play in several positions”, praises Bernard Diomede. “Bouba has been one of the highlights of our team this season. He went from sentry [defensive midfielder] to defender and vice versa “, noted, on May 19, after the announcement of his selection with the Blues, his coach at OM, Jorge Sampaoli.
A destination that questions
His versatility certainly convinced Didier Deschamps to select him, but also Aston Villa to hire him. Free of any contract, Boubacar Kamara has decided to sign for the next five seasons with the Birmingham club, 14th in the Premier League (the English championship), this season.
This choice surprised as much as aroused criticism of La Canebière when we imagined him discovering a big European club, after four full seasons in Ligue 1. “We are disappointed, because we are losing a player trained at the club, something quite rare to be highlighted, without bringing money to his training club”, regrets Fabien Laurenti.
One man weighed in: Steven Gerrard. The former Liverpool legend and now Aston Villa coach since November 2021 came to Boubacar Kamara’s home to convince him. “When the coach comes to see you at home, explains the project, his ambition for you … I take that a lot into account, especially coming from Steven Gerrard, one of the best in his position, explained the player at a press conference on Monday . His speech was very coherent. I enjoyed it very much. »
In the Premier League, the young Habs will be able to work on his shortcomings to hope to join the group of Blues which will take off for the World Cup in Qatar (from November 21 to December 18). “His room for improvement concerns his physical qualities, underlines Bernard Diomède. But he is a player who is not injured, who continues the matches. “A data never insignificant in a sector as competitive as the midfielder in the France team.