Bright Future Ahead for Rising French Cousins
Florent Sinama-Pongolle and his cousin Anthony Le Tallec were once the two most promising young talents in Europe after impressive performances in the Under-17 World Championship representing France in 2001, which they won. Sinama-Pongolle was later on named the player of the tournament ahead of Le Tallec, who settled with "Silver Ball".
Sinama-Pongolle is a flexible striker with speed and pace. Le Tallec is an attacking midfielder who can also play as a forward or second striker.
Both the young French boys were immediately snapped up after the Under-17 World Championship by Gerard Houllier who was the Liverpool manager at that time. They were loaned back to Ligue 1 side Le Havre before going back to Liverpool two years later in 2003.
Sinama-Pongolle made 23 appearances in his debut season scoring twice, while Le Tallec made two appearances less, scoring once.
Gerard Houllier left at the end of that season and the arrival of Rafa Benitez along with his Spanish contingent pushed Sinama-Pongolle and Le Tallec down the pecking order. However, Sinama-Pongolle made a respectable 26 appearances along with four goals. His fellow cousin was unfortunate to only make five appearances due to series of minor injuries and strong competition in midfield.
Anthony Le Tallec was loaned out to Sunderland at the end of that season while Florent Sinama-Pongolle remained. Sinama-Pongolle made only 16 appearances that season, netting three times in the process. Sinama-Pongolle enjoyed half a season on loan at Blackburn where he score a goal in 10 appearances.
The arrival of Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy the following season pushed Sinama-Pongolle further down in the pecking order. While Le Tallec was loaned out again to Sochaux, Sinama-Pongolle was sold to Spanish side Recreativo Huelva.
Sinama-Pongolle made an immediate impact in Spain, he was Recreativo's top scorer for two consecutive seasons before joining Atletico Madrid for a fee around €10million. Despite being the third choice behind Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan, he has made 25 appearances so far, scoring 5 goals in the process. Sinama-Pongolle is often deployed as a right winger in Atletico.
Le Tallec however, was loaned out again to Le Mans where the deal was made permanent one season later. He has made over 50 appearances for the French side, scoring 6 goals.
24-year-old Sinama-Pongolle has earned an international cap representing France after shining in La Liga. 17 days older Le Tallec, is still waiting for his international debut.
Despite claims by certain parties that both of them made a mistake by signing for Liverpool, Sinama-Pongolle insisted in October 2008 that it wasn't a mistake and that he gained a lot and improved into a better player during his time in Liverpool.
Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Anthony Le Tallec were once two of the most talked about youngsters in Europe but they have been quiet in recent years. Fortunately, both of them are clearly on the rise and have at least a few years before reaching their peaks. But the big question is: How far can they go?
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