This Sunday against PSG, 20-year-old Kays Ruiz will not come up against his former team-mates. A great PSG academy hope of the 2002 generation and an extremely important prospect in the eyes of PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaïfi when he arrived at Les Parisien, the midfielder chose to pack his bags two years ago.
Leaving on a free transfer, he moved to FC Barcelona where he integrated into the youth set-up. But in Spain, the adventure ended after a 12 months spent in FCB’s reserves, before a surprise move to Ligue 1 newly-promoted side Auxerre last summer which will also come to an end after just 1 year, despite him starting in a way that many believed meant that the youngster was finally going to have his professional breakthrough moment.
Recruited at the start of the 2022 summer transfer window, his first steps in Burgundy seemed rather positive. Jean-Marc Furlan, at the origin of his arrival (who was sacked but began the season as manager), viewed in him someone who wanted to show his worth and appreciated his versatility, even though internally the profile of the player did not have total support from the recruitment staff, according to Goal France. “I am very positive about what I see on a daily basis,” said the tactician who gave Ruiz a strong level of participation in the club’s friendly matches at the start of the season.
At the end of August, Kays Ruiz even started against Lyon in Ligue 1 and experienced his first minutes as a starter for Auxerre. His first but also his last. How does one explain that he has completely disappeared from the radar, with the only minutes of play during the rest of the campaign being a reserve team match against Canet-en-Roussillon, on November 5th?
At Auxerre, they explain that there are first of all physical and fitness reasons for why he has failed to breakthrough in Ligue 1 this season. “He made a difference [on the pitch] as a youngster but has not evolved since,” notes a close to the AJA dressing room. One also has to look at his attitude in training, according to a source at the Burgundy outfit: it is clear that from the outset that the boy does not behave badly, that he does not show off and does not “believe he is owed anything in front of his team-mates because he played at PSG.”
But the source affirms that the player does not work enough and does not want to hurt himself during the training sessions. “He’s a very good player technically but he relies [too much] on his skills,” said one of his team-mates. An opinion that other members of the club were also able to form because of delays in training and even inexplicable absences from sessions.
With the arrival of Christophe Pélissier as the new coach at the end of October, two weeks before the World Cup break, Auxerre chose to review its plans and tighten the 1st team squad, focusing on elevating the elements that were mentally refusing to accept the possibility of returning to Ligue 2. With only 153 competitive minutes in his legs at that point, Ruiz was logically not included in Pélissier’s plans as a key figure in the survival operation and now only trains at the start of the week with the 1st team group, before being with the reserves.
Three game-weeks before the end of Ligue 1 season, the midfielder already knows that he will no longer wear the colours of Auxerre this season. What next?
James Thorpe | GFFN