Barbet makes it three for Warburton’s Rangers – Signing
Tuesday, 18th Jun 2019 18:11 by Clive Whittingham
QPR’s brisk summer business continued this afternoon with the signing of Brentford defender Yoann Barbet on a free transfer and three year contract.
Yoann Barbet is a 26-year-old left sided defender from Libourne in South West France. He served his footballing apprenticeship in the junior ranks at Ligue 1 side Bordeaux, making 70 starts and five sub appearances for the club’s B Team from 2011 to 2014 and making the bench for the first team once for a Europa League game against Maccabi Tel Aviv on in December 2013. He scored 15 goals from defence across those appearances, led by seven goals from 28 starts and two sub appearances in 2012/13.
Having failed to make the breakthrough at Bordeaux he dropped down to Ligue 2 and signed for Chamois Niortais where he started 32 games and came off the bench in a further one in 2014/15. He initially signed a two-year deal in Niort and was quickly parachuted into the first team when first choice Frederic Bong suffered a bad injury. His debut came in a 1-1 draw with Créteil in August and his first senior goal arrived a month later in a 1-1 draw with Orléans.
That first season in senior football was enough to convince Brentford, and their highly regarded statistics-based scouting operation, to splash out a fee reported by Soccerbase at £500,000 and a four year contract to bring him to Griffin Park. He’s now become Mark Warburton’s third signing at QPR but while Liam Kelly and Lee Wallace have both worked with the new R’s manager before in Scotland, Barbet’s time at Brentford did not overlap with Warburton’s – the manager departed the month before the Frenchman arrived.
Over the course of four seasons Barbet has made 105 starts and 13 sub appearances for the Bees scoring seven goals. His time there has spent perpetually waiting for chances at either centre back or left back behind more established players, initially acting as cover for James Tarkowski and Harlee Dean, then Dean, John Egan and Andreas Bjelland, and latterly Chris Mepham and Ezri Konsa. The form of first Tom Field and then Rico Henry also restricted left back outings and he made just 19 starts in his first season at Griffin Park, though that did subsequently rise to 25, 37 and then 36 in his final season when he rejected the offer of a contract extension and chose to leave on a free this summer.
A bonus if Luke Freeman is indeed to move on this summer – left-footed Barbet is known for his set piece delivery. He scored seven goals in four seasons for the Bees including this pearler of a free kick at Bolton in 2017/18 – given QPR haven’t scored direct from a free kick since Yeni Ngbakoto did so away to Birmingham in February 2017 this is very welcome news.
He has signed a three-year deal at Loftus Road.
“I will give everything. I am a really passionate player so as soon as I am on the pitch I give everything. I try to lead the team and to help other players, to make them confident. I will do my best to help them in a good way and the team to do as best as possible. The manager made the difference for me. When you have a manager who wants you it is always good.” - Yoann Barbet
“I am really pleased with the quality of the players we have brought in, in terms of their characters on and off the pitch. Yoann is someone who knows the division well, having made more than 100 appearances for Brentford. He has displayed his attributes in that time and is a natural left-sided defender so I am delighted to have him join us. He is a technically outstanding player. He never hides from the football, he has quality distribution and he has presence on the pitch.
“A lot of people wanted him, so I flew out to see him, and to speak with him and his agent. You have to do what you have to do in order to secure the move and it’s great to get it over the line. It was good to have a number of conversations with him because you get a sense of what he wants out of his football career and what he is looking for in terms of a challenge. I am looking forward to working with him.” - Mark Warburton
“Barbet joined in June 2015, shortly after Warburton’s departure from the club, after guiding us to a fifth place finish in the Championship the previous season. Having struggled to get into the team in the first four months of his first season, he really flourished after we sold James Tarkowski to Burnley in January 2016. Unfortunately for Yoann we have been blessed with an abundance of good centre-halves in the last four or five years and, owing to his versatility (and a wand of a left foot), he was often used as a left back under Dean Smith. This continued under Thomas Frank and it is clear that Barbet preferred a central role. This probably contributed to his decision to leave the club and when Frank changed our formation to 3-5-2 in December of last year, Barbet became a regular on the left side of the back three and was central to our upturn in form.
“If he doesn't improve our back four he must be proper shit.” -JJB
Yoann Barbet, it would seem, is a difficult man to pin down. Is he a centre back, a left back, or in fact not a defender at all and probably better off in midfield? I’ve seen all three expressed online by Brentford fans today. I’ve seen it said that he’s not a particularly domineering defender, ropey in the air and flaky in the challenge, but then I’ve also been told by Beesotted’s Billy Grant that we can expect “miraculous last ditch tackles”. Is he prone to overplaying in bad areas, or perfect for the left side of a defence looking to play out from the back with a “wand of a left foot” – again, I’ve read both from the people who’ve watched him week in week out for the last four years. An excellent reader of the game, often caught out of position and having to make Hail Mary challenges to save himself – again, both expressed to me by different Brentford fans this afternoon. Linked in passing with Wolves and Villa, and now here signing for skinted QPR.
Perhaps somebody is deliberately trying to confuse us.
Thankfully his character doesn’t seem in doubt, with universal praise for his commitment and conduct heading over from Griffin Park. And to be honest not much of the above matters nearly as much as that little throwaway line from JJB on our message board which made me smile but does get right to the crux of the matter here. All Lee Wallace and Yoann Barbet have to do next season is be a bit better than Jake Bidwell and Joel Lynch. They’re coming into a defence that, although it upped its clean sheet record from seven in 2017/18 to 14 in 2018/19, has conceded 70 goals in a league season for the last two campaigns in a row. It’s a defence that conceded seven goals in a single game last August for the first time since 1986.
I liked Jake Bidwell more than most. I thought he was a steady, reliable full back, often left exposed by the formation we used without a conventional left-sided midfielder in front of him and frequently pulled inside to try and fight the fires being started by his pyromaniac centre backs. But I fully accept that he wasn’t ‘all that’, particularly for the money he was earning. He didn’t contribute enough going forwards, albeit with an increased assists count last season (six) and he regularly came too deep tight and narrow allowing wingers to run amok down his side, particularly Jarrod Bowen and Norwich’s Emiliano Buendia last season.
I disliked Joel Lynch possibly more than anybody. The brain explosions, the going too tight to a striker and getting rolled, the wild distribution that hinted at a deep concussion, the complete lack of discipline and the clockwork-like time off at Christmas and end of the season. Brought in to replace the giant that was QPR’s Clint Hill, he could barely ever even get the basics right for any reasonable period of time. I accept that I’m probably harsh and over the top, that he maybe wasn’t as bad as I thought, but he wasn’t good was he? Whether Barbet is an excellent reader of the game or regularly caught out of position isn’t really the issue, he just has to be a better reader of the game than Joel Lynch, and watching Joel Lynch try to read the game was like watching a dog trying to read the Financial Times. I remain haunted by that pass for the first Stoke goal up in Staffordshire last season.
We presume that both have come in at considerable cost saving on wages compared to what left, given that Lynch and Bidwell arrived with parachute payments still flowing in, and Wallace and Barbet are the first intake without them. I’m impressed with how smoothly we’re getting the business done, and how little is leaking out prior to the announcement – even when dealing with players from the footballing goldfish bowl that is the Old Firm and Glasgow. It’s professional, and un-QPR, and I like it. I’m also reassured that it would seem there’s no repeat of last summer, where a new manager allowed a transfer window to drift away and his team to go into the start of the season woefully short, engineering a position where the club had no choice but to present a load of expensive, experienced, short term players at the last minute to claw us out of the shit.
Now all Wallace and Barbet have to do is be even slightly better than the two that went before them. Statistically at least, they’ll have to go some to be worse.
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