Less than six months ago, Franck Ribery’s name was being mentioned in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Following a tremendous season with Bayern Munich, the France winger was one of the three finalists for the Ballon d’Or — football’s top award. Ribery lost, Ronaldo won.
Since then, Ribery’s form has dropped so much that it is now causing concern in the French camp. With the World Cup in Brazil looming, Ribery is a shadow of the player who terrorized defenders throughout last season.
He scored only four goals in 2014 as Bayern successfully defended its Bundesliga title, and he struggled to make an impact in the two disappointing matches against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.
Ribery, who also struggled with some minor injuries this season, ended up making only 22 appearances in 34 Bundesliga games, nine of those involving substitutions.
Along with Benzema, Ribery is the star of Didier Deschamps’s squad for this year’s World Cup, but his dipping form is worrying to some.
In an interview with the Laureus academy on Friday, former France great Marcel Desailly reproached Ribery for his lack of leadership and goals for the national team.
“He has scored only 10 goals this year while the records of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, (Luis) Suarez, (Edinson) Cavani or (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic are huge,” Desailly said. “Even if he’s a winger, we are really expecting him to score and to be a really important player for the team, who makes the difference.”
Desailly called on Ribery to show more consistency, especially when playing for his country.
“He is a great player, one of the top three players that we have today in Europe.”