of the “Blaugrana” in the service of the Blues

It is the story of a group of friends who grew up together and who play for Barcelona, ​​​​the best club in the world. Belonging to the “golden generation” of French handball – that of players born between 1995 and 1997 – Dika Mem, Melvyn Richardson and Ludovic Fabregas are friends in life and accomplices on the pitch. On Sunday 22 January they will find well-known faces in the club: France will face Spain in the last match of the main round of the World Cup organized in Sweden and Poland until 29 January.

Already qualified for the quarter-finals, the two selections, who have faced each other several times in international competitions, will compete for first place in group 1. Defeated in the last four games due to an abdominal contracture, Dika Mem will be back on the pitch on Sunday with the Blues.

The union of the three Blaugranas is one of the strengths of the French team. “We have a great relationship. The fact of evolving throughout the year in the same club has allowed us to develop automatisms, that’s for sureagrees Ludovic Fabregas. We discovered France together in the youth categories. Our success rewards the training work carried out in France, and in particular the important role of the federation. »

Together they have already won the most prestigious titles: Olympic gold with France, in Tokyo, in 2021, and the last two Champions Leagues with Barcelona (arrived in 2021, Melvyn Richardson didn’t “only” win the 2022 edition) .

“Great friends”

As in the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the three musketeers are actually four. Slightly older (30), rearguard Timothey N’Guessan should have been selected for the World Cup but broke his hand against Nantes on 15 December. “Too bad, with Tim, Dika and Ludo we are great friends”, Melvyn Richardson says:

“When we were younger, our ambition was to play in the top leagues. So, Barcelona, ​​​​with its pleasant climate, the sea, the Spanish culture… it’s a dream! »

The latest addition to the band, the son of Jackson Richardson, the whimsical playmaker of Experts, crossed the Pyrenees in 2021 from Montpellier, the club with which he had won the Champions League in 2018, seventeen years after his father, together with another promising young man called… Ludovic Fabregas.

The latter, however, at the end of the 2022-2023 season will leave Barcelona for the Veszprem club, heavyweight in the Hungarian championship. Arrived in the summer of 2018, Fabregas is the boss of the Catalan defense. In five seasons he will have won, in addition to two Champions Leagues, almost all possible national titles.

Ludovic Fabregas, French pivot, against Norway, August 1, 2021, during the Tokyo Olympics.

Upon his arrival at Barcelona, ​​Melvyn Richardson also reunited with his friend Timothey N’Guessan, with whom he had played five seasons in Chambéry. The adaptation of him was all the easier as he speaks Spanish easily, his father played five seasons in Pamplona, ​​in the Basque Country.

“In Barcelona you have to win every game and the crowd is demanding: they want to see a good gamecontinues Mr. Richardson. It’s a winning machine where the competition is fierce. There’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of sacrifices, but it’s a great pride to be in the best club in the world.. »

The backbone of Barcelona

Dika Mem, arrived youngest at the blaugrana, at just 18 years old. Now considered the best right-back on the planet, he is the one who best embodies the success of French handball in Catalonia. Originally from Val-d’Oise, Dika Mem came to handball late, at the age of 13, after trying football and basketball, a sport played by his brothers. Lens and Jordan Aboudou among the professionals.

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Eighth French handball player recruited in the history of the Catalan club, Dika Mem follows in the footsteps of pioneers Jérôme Fernandez, Nikola Karabatic and Cédric Sorhaindo. In Barcelona he finds the latter and Timothey N’Guessan, who take him under their wing. With his greats, Dika Mem observes, learns and imposes himself from his first season as a starter, up to playing in the final phase of the Champions League. “I was quickly adopted by the Catalan public”trust.

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Over the years, the small French colony has become the backbone of an invincible team, at least at a national level. FC Barcelona have won the last eleven Spanish league titles and, four points clear of runners-up Granollers, the club are on course to win a twelfth consecutive league title this season.

Scorer of 1,146 goals in 327 games for Barcelona, ​​Dika Mem is an explosive player capable of turning the tide of a game at any moment with his long-range shots, and who does not mind defensive work.

I feel at home here. I’ve been playing at this club for some time, where I grew up as a player but also as a human being. I want to mark the history of the club and of my sport. At Barça we have everything to win: the group, the staff, the fans…”the southpaw said in May, when his contract was extended.

The tricolor rearguard is now linked to the Catalan club until 2027. “Every year I cross a threshold, I am far from having reached my full maturity”, he repeats. He feels so good at Barcelona that he could see himself spending the rest of his career in Catalonia.

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