Gunners Town Scouting report on Clement Grenier by our French correspondent Global Gooner contribution from Vincent Fabre better known to many on Twitter and to French Gooners as @Grooverblog. Vincent has run an Arsenal blog in France for many years.
He is our Editor in Chief Dave Seager’s go to contact for all things French that effect our beloved Arsenal. So who else would we go to for a scouting report on Clement Grenier who by Arsene Wenger’s own words has been linked to a move to the Arsenal.
He is a young and talented player, with a lot of skill on the ball. He reminds me for some part a bit of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.”We follow him, that’s true.” A few words from Arsène Wenger and Arsenal fans were discovering Clément Grenier. First of all, short lesson of french : “Clément” should be pronounced something like “Klay-man” (with a “close sound” at the end) and “Grenier” is the exact translation of “attic”. So, put attic in google translate, and try the “audio spelling option”. Here we go.Grenier is 22, right-footed and has spent his (short) football time in Olympique Lyonnais. He joined the Lyon Academy in 2002, and improved year by year before becoming a pro in 2009.
During the major part of his scholar time, the Academy was headed by former Gunner Remi Garde, a long time student of Wenger, at Arsenal but also in Monaco. I don’t think we need to explain the way Garde is choosing and teaching his pupils, but for those of you who have doubts, be sure that it’s really not far from the Wenger’s way : skillful players who love to play and moving/passing forward with the ball. In 2011, Remi Garde became first-team head coach, and in his long-time plan to make a competitive team, he instinctively chose several of his best former students to built his starting XI. One of the first he put in his list was Clément Grenier. Not surprisingly though, it was the moment Grenier started to improve; becoming a regular of the first team. 30 games in 2011-2012, for a total of one goal and four assists, and a victory in the French Cup. In 2012-2013, Grenier played 32 games, scoring seven goals and making eight assists, playing as creative midfielder in Lyon’s 4-3-3, alongside Maxime Gonalons and Steed Malbranque.
An interesting fact is that Clément Grenier has a lot to share with these two players: Gonalons was a teammate in the Academy, and the 33 years old Malbranque was himself a product of the same Academy, started his career in late 90’s as. creative midfielder. Grenier regular season stats show how important was in contribution in Lyon’s third place. With an average 33.5 passes, 74.1 rate of success and 1.6 key pass per game he also get the best cross ratio, with 1.6 per game and second best accurate long ball with 1.7. This line puts him in the top flight of his team, and second best of a midfield panel composed of experienced players like Malbranque or Gourcuff (who, to be fair, struggled with injuries during a large part of the season). But as you know, stats are only a part of the truth. And talking about truth, only the field can show you the best part.
I watched a lot of Lyon games this season, and I must admit Malbranque and Grenier were the two players who seduce me the most, especially by the way they drive the ball so easily. Sunderland and Fulham fans still remember Malbranque as a beautiful player, and despite a late injury in the season, he bossed Lyon’s midfield several times. It was clear, game after game, Grenier’s improvement was mainly due to this partnership. The young player learned fast and learned well but also showed his own skills.
One of the most impressive is what I like to call “head-up display” : no matter what happened, how many players chasing him, the pressure, his head is always up, his eyes seeking for a solution before calmly giving a pass. This is the main aspect that I think we can put close to a Fabregas style of play: the way Grenier is reading the game with always a leap ahead the others, the ability to “freeze the time” in a heartbeat.
Another interesting (and spectacular) skills is Grenier strong shot. A large part of football fans have seen his deadly free-kicks against Nice and Rennes, or his long-range strike against Montpellier. There, again, is a story of learning. As a young scholar, Clément Grenier used to train with the first team, and most specifically with a famous brazilian player named Juninho Pernambucano, a player Thierry Henry defines as: “the best free kick striker I saw in my entire life”. Grenier used to watch again and again Juninho’s training sessions, analysing and trying to reproduce the movement. This shows most of Grenier’s behavior as a football player: talent is great part, but the research of experience, the ability to learn from the others in order to improve his own game is a rare and vital skill for a young lad.
These are a few of the reasons why I think Grenier could fit perfectly in Arsenal style, and, no doubt, one of the main reasons the boss has an eye on him. But, to be fair, I must say Clément Grenier can’t be the type of player we need now, assuming Arsenal is in despair about a real, strong, defensive midfielder. The young Frenchman is not that type, with poor defensive qualities. On the other hand, with an addition of a Capoue or a Gonalons, Grenier can be one of the masterminds of Arsenal, creating and learning alongside talented players like Cazorla or Rosicky.