Mercato agité, blessure, déclarations controversées à Strasbourg : le défenseur Maxime Estève s’explique avant de retrouver le Racing, dimanche 17 septembre en Alsac.
On February 5th in Strasbourg, Montpellier’s defeat (2-0) led to the dismissal of coach Romain Pitau, as well as the unfiltered statements from young defender Maxime Estève. A resounding outburst and its boomerang effect. The 21-year-old international hopeful then experienced eight troubled months. Confessions.
Comment avez-vous vécu cet été avec très peu de temps de jeu et un mercato mouvementé ?
Cela a été une période très compliquée dans la tête. Au début du mercato, on m’a dit que j’allais partir. Au final, je suis là, mais je suis content d’y être.
I had a realization. I am fortunate to be in a club like Montpellier. From now on, I no longer want to hear about the transfer window, whether it’s in winter or summer. I no longer have the desire to move. I need to have a certain stability and a linear progression.
I am not happy with my previous season. Everything started with my exit after the match in Strasbourg (1).
Est-ce que cela a été l’origine de vos problèmes ?
Therefore, the end of the season was very, very tough. I left the team in January in 15th place. From the second training session with coach Der Zakarian, I got injured without knowing the nature of my injury, and I had to undergo hernia surgery, which kept me absent for three months. Meanwhile, the team started winning.
Cela m’a mis un grand coup à la confiance. À mon retour, j’avais moins de repères. Je marche beaucoup à la confiance. Et, pour finir, il y a eu le mercato.
I am from here. If we had gone down, I don’t know how I would have experienced it.
Pourquoi êtes-vous resté ?
I stayed because the offers did not match the club’s interests. I never considered going into conflict or going on strike during training to force a departure. In fact, I now want to commit long-term to Montpellier. I just want to regain confidence, the joy I had before, the carefree attitude of my first season, playing time, and to perform well.
Comment expliquez-vous votre réaction marquante à Strasbourg lors du match de dimanche, avec le recul ?
At that moment, I was afraid, very afraid, that we would be relegated. When I went home, I talked about it with my father, mother, wife… I am from here. If we had been relegated, I don’t know how I would have dealt with it. Being part of the team that relegates the club implies a great responsibility, it kills your whole life.
(Avec ces déclarations contre Strasbourg) Je me suis mis dans une position très inconfortable. Je ne sortais plus de chez moi. Je sentais la pression d’une ville, la pression de tout.
Avez-vous réalisé l’effet de votre réaction ?
When I leave the game, I don’t remember making that statement. Nor its impact. I go to take a shower, feeling disgusted by the defeat. I grab my phone and see that I have hundreds of messages. At that moment, I wonder: what did I do?
I felt guilty about disrespecting the team. Being young, I don’t have the authority like some of the higher-ups to say that. I was afraid that my message would be misinterpreted by the players, even though it was just frustration and fear of relegation.
I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation. I no longer left my house. I felt the pressure of a city, the pressure of everything.
C’est désormais derrière moi. J’entame à mon initiative un travail auprès d’une préparatrice mentale rencontrée au centre de formation.
Comment s’est déroulé ce marché des transferts ?
We had reached an agreement with the club in January following Nottingham’s approach. We had agreed that I would finish the season and that I had permission to leave this summer.
When you are a young player and several clubs (Club Bruges, Udinese, and Hellas Verona) talk to you about their interest, numbers, and a lot of money, you cannot ignore them.
When someone tells you that you can go there in four days, it becomes complicated to manage. We constantly check our phones. Naturally, we may be a little less focused on the task at hand.
Depuis la clôture du marché des transferts, j’ai complètement arrêté. Pour un athlète, les plateformes de médias sociaux sont extrêmement néfastes.
Comment vous motivez-vous aujourd’hui pour vous remettre en marche ?
Le dernier jour du mercato a été une libération et une prise de conscience. L’inverse d’une déception. Je me remets au boulot à 100 %, je suis montpelliérain à 200 %.Depuis janvier, je n’avais en tête que de l’extra-sportif avec mes déclarations et le mercato. Cela m’a tellement bouffé d’énergie.
Comment peut-on se protéger des perturbations causées par les rumeurs de transferts ?
Je suis jeune, je suis né avec les réseaux sociaux. Je ne cessais de les regarder. Depuis la fin du mercato, j’ai tout coupé. J’évite de lire tout ce que l’on dit sur moi. Quand j’étais blessé, les gens disaient que j’avais la grosse tête. Pour un joueur, les réseaux sociaux, c’est le plus gros poison.
Do you feel like everything has gone too fast in the past two years?
I was not prepared to play at the highest level, everything happened quickly. Two years ago, I was on the reserve team, I was nothing. I am only 21 years old, I have to stop painting a negative picture. For the past three weeks, I have been trying to get everything back on track. I need to regain confidence in myself, stop overthinking, and dominate on the field. It’s a fresh start.
The end of the transfer window and the call-up to the national youth team bring me a breath of fresh air and come at the right time.
Do you need to gain the trust of Der Zakarian, who may have different expectations for a position he is familiar with, just like you had the trust of Dall’Oglio and Pitau?
He gives very good advice. When he talks to you about this position, I can only listen and learn. I understand that I may not be the first choice. When he arrived, he implemented a defense that worked very well.
As time goes on, I need to show in training that he can trust me. In the eyes of the coach, I also need to have more cunning to occupy a position that requires experience. He has higher expectations for defensive rigor, and expects me to demonstrate more solidity and attentiveness.
I need to be tougher in duels. I will also be doing individual work to improve the basics in physical confrontations.
Did being selected for the Espoirs benefit you in this context?
The end of the transfer window and the call-up to the U21 national team bring me a breath of fresh air and come at the right time. Since I haven’t been playing from the start, I wasn’t expecting it. The goal is to be called up for the Olympics in particular. The coach (Thierry Henry) has emphasized playing time, especially for the upcoming gatherings in October and November.
The coach possesses a strong charisma and commands respect. He is one of the three individuals who have made a significant impact on French football. During training, everyone was engaged and even a toro had stakes involved.