It seems Rémy Cabella likes a bet. No, vast sums are not won and lost on horse races or in card games in the back of the team bus. Rather, Cabella is the man behind the blue-and-orange mohawk sported by Montpellier Hérault SC president Louis Nicollin after his side surprised everyone by winning the Ligue 1 title last season.
Nicollin's outlandish cut was the fruit of a wager between the pair, just as Montpellier's outspoken supremo had promised to foot the bill if Cabella got his car sprayed in the southern outfit's blue-and-orange colours. "I think I got the wool pulled over my eyes with the cost," said Nicollin. At the club since the age of 13, Cabella may well save – and indeed earn – his president much, much more in the future.
The midfielder's efforts in his debut Ligue 1 campaign of 2011/12 were understandably overshadowed by those of top scorer Olivier Giroud and the now-Arsenal FC striker's foil, Younes Belhanda. The latter has – like Cabella – come through the ranks at Montpellier, and after his insolent penalty against the Gunners on matchday one, the Moroccan international might have been expected to live up to the resulting hype. Instead, Cabella has stolen the show in his team's maiden UEFA Champions League forays.
Not that the 22-year-old has been spectacular; that's not his style. Capped 16 times by France at Under-21 level, he is remarkably consistent and industrious, and – as his lob that beat Vito Mannone but not the bar on matchday one suggests – possesses no little skill.
He works equally well on either flank, with his impeccable attitude and work-rate allowing either right-back Garry Bocaly or left-back Henri Bedimo to push forward with insouciance. It is little wonder the club persuaded him to sign a two-year contract extension earlier in 2012, taking his current deal through to 2016.
Furthermore, Cabella's on-pitch attitude and unfailingly polite manner in his dealings with me in the mixed zone after matches seem to indicate that Cabella is a well-grounded individual. One you are going to hear more of, you can bet on that.
The opinions expressed here are the writer's own and not those of UEFA.
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