GdS: Fofana’s journey from delivering pizzas to now and why Milan are ‘bewitched’

By Oliver Fisher -

Youssouf Fofana is the new target for AC Milan’s midfield department in view of the summer, and his journey to being a star at Monaco has certainly not been straightforward.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport write, Fofana has become a better footballer thanks to his formative experiences. Until a few years ago he spent his evenings delivering pizzas in the suburbs of Paris, to take responsibility and put some money in the piggy bank.

Today he is a symbol of Monaco, in December 2022 he came close to the World Cup with France and is one of the midfielders of the moment from a transfer perspective. His contract expires in 2025 and Milan have pinned down his name for the summer, having been ‘bewitched’ by him.

Fofana’s journey

Fofana’s story tells of the ability to react and of willpower. Born in Paris on 10 January 1999, he has Ivorian origins and grew up in the 19th arrondissement, showing off from an early age wearing the Esperance shirt which was the team from his neighbourhood.

In that context he was noticed and taken to Clairefontaine, a well-known academy for French players. After three years in the centre, however, he found no team willing to bet on him and he returned home.

The thought of giving up football thus became more and more consistent, between mornings at high school and evenings as a delivery boy, as he told L’Equipe: “I like to remember that period. It allowed me to keep my feet on the ground.”

His big break came from Strasbourg, who decided to give him an opportunity first with the reserve team and then launching him in Ligue 1 in 2018 with a professional contract ready on the desk.

Fofana’s league debut in the 2-0 defeat against Lyon was the first of 41 appearances for the Alsace club, with four goals and an assist. Then, in 2020, he made the big leap to Monaco, which brought him to the Principality by writing a check for €15m.

“Strasbourg prepared me better from a mental point of view,” he said in an interview with Get French Football News, referring to his years at Clairefontaine. “They pushed me to go to the top and I would say that I improved more mentally than technically or tactically. However, it is difficult to judge and make comparisons, I got there at a mature age and I knew what to do.”

Les Bleus come calling

For Monaco, Fofana became a point of reference in midfield and slowly earns the trust of Didier Deschamps. The France coach game him a debut in the 2-0 against Austria in the Nations League, in September 2022, and then wrote his name in the list of players called up for the World Cup in Qatar.

Here he came one step away from the dream, winning with him the final lost on penalties against Messi’s Argentina. That was after having been present in all but one match (the quarter-finals against England) and starting the last match of the group against Tunisia and the semi-finals against Morocco.

“In all 120 minutes against Argentina we only made mistakes in the first 15 and it cost us dearly. It was a great experience with a new group, we learned to know each other. In the future we will do much better, I hope so,” he said after the tournament.

Milan take notice

Fofana is a right-footed midfielder, he is 1.85 metres tall and in the middle of the pitch he knows how to command respect with considerable physical and athletic qualities, especially when it comes to fighting in front of the defence.

Due to this he would represent a different profile compared to the other midfielders of the Rossoneri’s arsenal, even though when it comes to making an investment the management seem more inclined towards attack than defence.

A fact to strengthen the concept: his seasonal average of recovered balls is 7.3 per game. With Monaco he has made 167 appearances in all competitions so far, with five goals and 14 assists.

An added curiosity is that he is a great lover of music. Afro, pop and rap. From Adli to Leao, Milanello would have no shortage of colleagues with whom to share the passion, and he would find many compatriots too.

Tags AC Milan Youssouf Fofana


  1. Well it’s a job. Shows responsibility on his part. And he’s been playing at a high level for five years now. I get we want another story like Messias.

  2. Has some attributes that we’re missing in our midfield so in theory should be a very good buy.

    I suspect that a lot of PL teams are already looking at him (French NT player) which might mean that if he is sold, his price and salary requests would be outside of our bidding range.

    I see it as very unlikely to happen

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