If we put his pieces of matches end to end since his return, three weeks ago following a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the right knee, Nikola Karabatic played an hour: a few minutes here and there in the last three games of the Starligue season and two stealth appearances in Cologne during the Champions League Final Four. Nobody expected his return so quickly and it is already a miracle. “It was a strong possibility not to be able to play again this season. It's not fear, it's a given: either I can do it, or I cannot! “, Told us the player of PSG two weeks ago.
Finding "the best player of all time" for Nedim Remili, his teammate in club and in the France team, the "most complete player in the world" for Michaël Guigou, left winger of Nîmes and the Blues, is excellent news.
"Seeing Nikola on the pitch again and continuing the path to his best level is real good news for him and for us" rejoices the coach of the France team, Guillaume Gille, who has slipped the boss into his group in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.
"We can't do without Nikola Karabatic"
This list includes 21 players, of whom only fourteen (as well as one player who will join the Olympic Village, and two others, including a goalkeeper, who will travel to Japan, but will remain outside the village) will go to the Olympics. Will Nikola Karabatic be on the trip? He himself remains cautious: “Of course, not going to Tokyo is a possibility, he tells us. Even if I have replayed, I can get injured again. I may not hold out during the preparation, the coach may feel that I am not up to the level. There are a lot of parameters that will come into play by then. It's not in my mind, or something that haunts me, but it's a given that exists. I know she's there. It's up to me to do everything to make sure that doesn't happen. "
Will Guillaume Gille do without the one with whom he won his two Olympic titles as a player in 2008 and 2012? “No, he has no choice,” thunder Daniel Costantini, the former coach of the Blues, from 1985 to 2001. We can't do without Nikola Karabatic when we can select him. His aura, his influence are too important. Nikola won't take anyone's place. He fully deserves it. "
Barring a new injury to the captain, a non-selection indeed seems highly improbable.
It would be a revolution.
“I am not a coach in Guillaume's place, concedes Jérôme Fernandez, his former friend at the Beijing Olympics (2008) and commentator of those in Rio (2016), but we do not deprive ourselves of a talent like his.
Even if he is only 80 or 90% of his means, even if he only plays twenty minutes in the worst case, Nikola will always know how to bring his talent, his strength, his experience.
His presence helps his teammates and always scares his opponents who focus on him.
It is still very precious.
"He just needs a restart"
There is nevertheless a question: in what state of form would the boss be to start the Olympic campaign, on July 24 against Argentina?
The former Barcelona player has played little with PSG this weekend during the Final Four.
He could not prevent the hopeless quack against Aalborg in the semifinals (33-35), playing about seven minutes, without scoring.
And he made only a short appearance the next day in the match for third place, scoring once: "Coach Raul Gonzales made a choice based on the group that had qualified, believes Daniel Costantini. .
And Nikola was not one of them.
Jérôme Fernandez continues: “We felt that he was not yet completely at ease on his supports, his withdrawal. This is quite normal: he needs to find his bearings. Knowing the guy, if he goes on the field, it is because he knows he is fit and plays without any apprehension. He just needs a reboot. »Will he find her at the end of July? "There is nothing to worry about," resume our two experts. Nikola will have six weeks of physical preparation before the Games. He will be ready and he will be hungry. "