It was well after the midway point of last season when heads started to turn and take serious notice of Lyon’s Clement Grenier. Those free-kicks against Nice and Rennes did a lot for his reputation and the comparisons to former Lyon midfielder Juninho were naturally rising to the surface. And what can only be described as fairly routine, the rising star in French football has been linked with a move to Arsenal, even amid hope that Arsene Wenger would deviate from his well-trodden hunting ground of Ligue 1.
Following the links between Grenier and Arsenal, which only really came into being following Wenger’s praise of the player, there have been fans stating that the current Arsenal squad are not in need of another player whose intelligence and play resembles that of Samir Nasri. ‘What will he bring to the club?’ and ‘the money should be focused elsewhere’ are the most common reactions to this potential signing, completely ignoring the idea that football clubs do generally add gifted players, especially those who could be had for bargain fees, with a view to the long term.
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Maybe there’s a reason why it took so long to completely appreciate Grenier’s qualities. Jean-Michel Aulas, the Lyon president, was ready to sell Grenier last summer but was persuaded to keep hold of the player. Now, 12 months on, Aulas is quick to compare Grenier’s worth to Lyon as identical to that of Mario Goetze to Dortmund, stating that the player can be had for €37million.
But that’s not the case – far from it. Where once Aulas and Lyon held such a strong stance in the transfer market, that authority simply doesn’t wash on this occasion. Grenier’s contract is up next summer, and considering Lyon didn’t play Champions League football last season, they can hardly afford to let the player walk for free.
Wenger, despite having the most prominent voices inside the Emirates promise fans a summer of excitement and ‘real’ spend, is highly unlikely to look past a young talent who can be of genuine use to Arsenal even after this coming season.
The promising nature of Arsenal’s squad at the moment means they certainty don’t need Grenier, meaning his addition will only go on to strengthen the club’s charge for silverware. It’s a matter of bringing in numbers rather than just replacing – and how often have Arsenal supporters sung that line to Wenger? Grenier does have the talent to be a hit in English football and with Arsenal, even if he is a little way off from reaching his peak. The talent is there, but this isn’t a Mario Goetze, as Aulas tried to imply.
The Lyon midfielder has already done some excellent things in Ligue 1 this past season, showing evidence of his ability to create and score. But Arsenal aren’t stretched for cash going into the summer market, and there really is little in the way of a gamble when the once proud and resilient Lyon hold such little power in the negotiations for this particular deal.
This will be a transfer that echoes what Wenger has tried to do in the past, picking up young players who have already displayed a quality that can be moulded to fit the needs of a club of Arsenal’s stature. Even with all the money that’s said to be available, Arsenal cannot spend £25-30million on three or four players each summer. And it really shouldn’t matter how much Grenier is likely to cost or whether he is needed in the team. Bayern Munich spent around €15million on Xherdan Shaqiri when they already had Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller for the wide positions. Following their treble-winning campaign, there continues to be enormous admiration for the quality in depth at the Allianz Arena. If Mesut Ozil were to become available to Arsenal, would fans turn their noses up at the German simply because the squad are well-numbered in attacking midfielders?
Grenier is a prospect for now, despite showing plenty of potential over the past few months. He is also very much a player who can adapt and execute the style of play that so many want to see at Arsenal again. It should be about the club filling their squad with technically able players and those who can complement one another. Grenier, alongside the necessary big names this summer, could be a very good signing for Arsenal.
Are Arsenal right to target Clement Grenier and would he be a good signing for the future?
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