Having seen big moves collapse at the last minute in each of the last two transfer windows, Sébastien Corchia could consider himself one of the unluckiest men in football, but he showed on Saturday that a turbulent last few weeks have taken away none of his considerable ability.
Corchia's superb free-kick helped his club Sochaux earn a 2-2 draw with Valenciennes in a key game in the battle against relegation from Ligue 1 at the weekend, a battle that the diminutive right-back thought he had left behind in January.
The former France under-21 captain of Italian origin, now aged 23, finally took the step up he deserved when he left struggling Sochaux for Champions League-chasing Lille on a four-and-a-half-year deal last month. He was paraded in the colours of his new club and spoke in an interview with Lille's website of his excitement for the future.
But all parties were left stunned when the DNCG, French football's financial watchdog, refused to ratify the transfer amid concerns about Lille's accounts. Numerous appeals were rejected and so the clubs and Corchia were forced to abandon the deal for now
After a period in limbo in which nobody was entirely sure who was supposed to be paying his wages, Corchia finally returned to training with Sochaux last week, declaring himself fully committed to aiding their fight against relegation while also admitting that his aim remains to leave come the end of the campaign.
He had been through something similar last July, when a move to Lyon fell through because OL refused to meet the €3 million asking price and signed Portuguese right-back Miguel Lopes on loan instead.
"It's difficult for me to understand," said Corchia at the time.
"I had agreed a four-year deal and discussions between the clubs were continuing, and then I discovered that OL had taken another player on loan.
“I don't understand Lyon's position. When I visited their training centre and met (coach) Rémi Garde he kept saying to me that I was his priority for the right-back position. It's bizarre!"
But Corchia got over that and he quickly put the Lille debacle behind him too.
Coach Hervé Renard had hinted that he might throw the right-back straight into his side for the match at Valenciennes. But he could scarcely have imagined the impact that doing so would have.
Corchia was pushed forward into a right midfield role at the Stade du Hainaut. His side fell behind early in the second half but, three minutes later, they won a free-kick fully 30 yards out, slightly to the right of goal.
Corchia stepped up to send a superb right-footed strike sailing high into the top left-hand corner, his first goal at the highest level in almost exactly a year bringing Sochaux level.
They fell behind again with just four minutes left and yet still came back to earn a 2-2 draw thanks to a second equaliser from Florian Marange, he who was signed by Crystal Palace last summer and then bizarrely left off their Premier League squad list.
Really, it was a result that neither side wanted, but Renard could take plenty of encouragement from his team's determination to keep going and snatch a point.
"To come back like that, after being behind twice, is something we would never have done two months ago," said the likeable Renard, the mastermind of Zambia's triumph in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
He went on to say that his team had to say "a big thank you" to Corchia and expressed his "sincere" belief that Sochaux can still beat the drop.
In the middle of January they were ten points from safety. Now, after two wins and two draws in five outings, they are just five points shy of Evian in 17th.
With trips to Monaco and Saint-Etienne and a home game against Marseille to come in March, though, it remains a long shot that Renard can steer the Peugeot-backed club away from relegation.
But, as sports daily L'Equipe put it, at least Sochaux "have their Juninho until June".
Then, Corchia will go, but Lille may yet face competition for the signature of someone Renard describes as "an exceptional boy, a golden player for a coach."
Corchia has been tipped for big things since making his debut five years ago with Le Mans. He has been watched by the likes of Juventus and Bayern Munich, and Arsenal lead the list of interested English clubs.
Saturday was a reminder for them of what he is capable of.
Andrew Scott | Follow on Twitter
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