By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – Eugenie Le Sommer is two goals away from breaking France’s all-time scoring record and has won multiple trophies with club side Olympique Lyonnais, but she says her main goal going into the new year is simply to keep her place in the team.
The forward has won every trophy there is with Lyon since joining in 2010, scoring 13 league goals last season to help them secure another treble that included record-extending triumphs in the league (17th title), the French Cup (10) and Champions League (6).
Yet competition is fierce with Lyon boasting a strikeforce that also includes Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan, Norway’s Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg and young English forward Nikita Parris who was signed in the close season.
Despite her many achievements, Le Sommer, who is two shy of overtaking Marinette Pichon’s record total of 81 goals for France between 1994 and 2006, is not getting complacent with regard to her place in the Lyon lineup.
“Every year it’s the same, with my club I want to win everything. French league, French Cup and Champions League,” she told Reuters at Visa Europe’s headquarters in London.
“I think I’m in the best club in the world and I want to beat records now, win the most trophies I can but also stay in the team.
“It is hard to play in this team because we have a lot of good players, so I want to improve day after day and I want to score the most goals I can, (and) to make the most assists I can.”
While the 30-year-old Le Sommer has lifted a trophy every year she has been at the Ligue 1 side, silverware on the international stage has proved much more elusive.
Expectations in France were high going into this year’s women’s World Cup, with the hosts aiming at least to improve on their previous best result – their fourth-place finish at the 2011 tournament in Germany.
However, despite boasting a 100% record through the group stage and the last 16, they came up against eventual champions the United States in the quarter-finals.
Two goals from 2019 Ballon d’Or winner Megan Rapinoe were enough to end France’s quest in front of a packed Parc des Princes in Paris, their fifth successive quarter-final exit at a major tournament (including Olympics and European Championships).
“I am disappointed about the World Cup because we could be better and it’s not a good memory on the pitch, we didn’t play well and I didn’t enjoy the game,” Le Sommer said.
“But out of the pitch it was amazing and out of the stadium, in the media, in the newspapers, everything was amazing… this changed a lot for women’s football in France but also in the world in general.
“But on the pitch I was not happy because we can do better but it’s football, it’s like that. Of course, we wanted to win but we played against the best team in the world and we were close but not enough.”
“Since now, three or four competitions we always lost in the quarter-finals. We want to be better, we want to win something with France we have good players but maybe we miss something and we want to be better every day,” added Le Sommer, who has 167 caps for her country.
France’s extra-time 2-1 victory over Brazil in the World Cup’s last 16 was watched by 59 million people – making it the most viewed women’s soccer match of all time.
That support has extended beyond the final in July as last month a record 30,661 fans were in attendance for Lyon’s 1-0 league win over Paris St Germain, beating the previous best of 25,907 set by the same two teams in April.
France will be hoping for similarly enthusiastic support in April when they continue their bid to qualify for Euro 2021 by welcoming North Macedonia, in a match where Le Sommer could write her name in the record books.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Toby Davis)