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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Mark Wakefield

'Not at all happy' - Liverpool sold France U20 captain who was angered by return rumours and built 'nuclear' business

Liverpool's recruitment strategy in 2022 is the envy of clubs across the Premier League and Europe.

The Reds rarely make a wrong move in the transfer market, whether it's breaking world record fees in bringing in the likes of Virgil van Dijk or bringing in the best young teenagers on the market it Harvey Elliott, Liverpool's recruitment resembles something of a fine art.

It hasn't always been that way. Indeed, the Reds have had many a stinker in the transfer market in years gone by, especially when trying to predict which young players would go on to become the best in Europe.

And that was the case back in 2003 when Liverpool signed young centre-back Carl Medjani on a free transfer. At the age of 18, the Reds thought they had struck gold by bringing in one of France’s brightest defensive prospects.

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Medjani had been at Saint Etienne, a club who Liverpool have history with following their European Cup exploits in 1977. Despite him making the move to Anfield, it was not one that was his first choice.

The defender was only part of the French club’s youth team at the time, and was keen to link up with the first-team. He made this request to then-manager Frederic Antonetti, who refused. What was quite interesting is that Medjani admitted to regretting his decision to leave France and move to Merseyside.

“I had to sign three years with the Greens but I had set one condition: that I could train with the pros,” Medjani told L’Equipe in 2011. “Frédéric Antonetti refused. On the contrary, Liverpool accepted and trusted me.

“I didn't go there for the money. I was ready to stay in Sainté. I regret my departure but I learned a lot in England.”

Despite arriving with plenty of promise, Medjani failed to live up to the hope that manager Gerard Houllier would have wanted. The defender did not make a single first-team appearance for the Reds, with his only matchday experience coming as an unused substitute during the Champions League qualifier in July 2005 against FBK Kaunas.

After his first season at Anfield, Medjani would find things change dramatically. Houllier had left and was replaced by Rafa Benitez in the summer of 2004.

Given that Houllier was a big driving force behind the club’s decision to sign him, Medjani would have been worried about his future at the club. Benitez wasted no time in letting Medjani leave on loan to join French club Lorient in order to gain first-team experience.

Upon his return, Medjani publicly admitted that he hoped to have talks with Benitez about his future. He even said that he would not be against returning to France, despite featuring during Liverpool’s pre-season plans in the summer of 2005.

"I have been in Switzerland with the rest of the Liverpool group," Medjani told ‘But!’ in 2005. "It went off smoothly and I am quite satisfied, as I played some friendlies.

"I will know my future in the coming days. Rafael Benitez told me we will soon have a talk. I will know if he relies on me for next season.

"If not, I will see with my agent if a loan is possible. Lorient wanted to keep me. Why not go back?

"We will see if I will favour Ligue 1. I don't know anything about the rumoured contact with Metz.

"My agent is managing the contacts and he will tell me after my talk with Benitez."

What would follow is another loan move to Metz, for the 2005/06 season. A year later, on this day in 2006 (August 12) he would be completing a permanent move to Lorient, leaving Liverpool without any first-team minutes under his belt.

After leaving Liverpool, Medjani would go through spells at a host of clubs across France and Europe. This included Monaco, Valenciennes and AC Ajaccio, who he made nearly 200 appearances for, as he began to move away from centre-back and gradually become a defensive midfielder.

Arguably the highlight of his career came in 2014 when he featured for his country, Algeria, in the World Cup in Brazil. He played in all three group games, and even got an assist to his name in a 4-2 win over South Korea, but was an unused substitute for the round of 16 defeat to Germany.

During a group game against Belgium, Medjani shared the pitch was several recognisable faces. He was in the same team as future Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez, and played against Divock Origi, who would go on to sign for the Reds later that summer.

After moving to Trabzonspor in 2014, it took only a year for rumours to start flying of another move. This time, though, it had been claimed that Liverpool were interested in his services once again.

Quotes surfaced claiming to be from Medjani stating that he wanted to return to England. However, a couple of days later he denied these rumours and expressed his anger at the fake quotes appearing.

“I am not at all happy with the process,” Medjani told France Football in the summer of 2015. “I have never spoken to this site, and there is absolutely no contact with Liverpool.”

As Medjani’s career began to wind down, he would move to Saudi Arabia-based club Ohod Al-Medina in 2019. This would last a little more than a year, before he would become ‘retired’ despite playing for his local village club.

In an interview with Corse Matin in January this year, Medjani explained how he had been retired for the past couple of years. A move away from football was next up for him, as well as prioritising raising his young children.

But as well as becoming a family man, Medjani also had a flair for being an entrepreneur. Even going so far as to help build several businesses in a variety of sectors.

“I have been a retired athlete for two years and a young father of a four-year-old boy and a little girl who will soon be two,” said Medjani. “With the Covid, I took the time to build a few businesses that I manage on a daily basis with my teams and associates. He continued: “I have diversified my horizons and my investments, but I have a company that is now larger than the others, where we are 70-80 employees, which operates in the nuclear sector.

“This is the bulk of my time and my investment. I also have other companies in fast food and health.”

Even though football seemed in the past for Medjani, the former Liverpool starlet still chips in to help his local village club, FC Salaise Rhodia.

“I had turned the page but I have my village club, FC Salaise where I started football, which plays in R1 and which is in a somewhat complicated situation,” Medjani said. “I'm definitely going to put on the crampons to help him in this second part of the season.”


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