Barcelona and Manchester United target Clement Lenglet is not yet the finished article at Sevilla

The French defender has enjoyed a tremendous 18 months at the Spanish club but a big-money move this summer may come too early for him, writes Colin Millar.


Reuters/ALBERT GEA

When the revered sporting director Monchi left Sevilla after 17 years, it would inevitably lead to uncertainty among the club’s fans if their club could continue to replicate the success. The former goalkeeper was the man credited with taking the club from Spain’s second tier to winning five Europa League titles and establishing his club among Spain’s elite.

His tenure at the club saw 149 players signed because of his total overhaul of the scouting network and extensive use of new technological systems to evaluate ideal signings. His penultimate signing for Sevilla now looks set to earn the club a massive profit.

Prominent rise

Monchi, now at Roma, became famed for plucking players from relative obscurity and turning them into stars on the European stage. In January 2017 he completed the signing of central defender Clement Lenglet from Nancy for a fee worth €5m.

A former France Under-21 international, Lenglet played a vital role in propelling the French club back into Ligue 1 six months and his 18 top-flight appearances in France convinced Sevilla to splash out the cash. He immediately went into the first-team set-up and featured in 17 of their remaining 19 league outings that season.

The 22-year-old central defender has impressed for Los Rojiblancos in a turbulent campaign for the club this time round, helping guide them to the Copa del Rey final and last eight of the Champions League.

Lenglet starred in European competition against both Manchester United and Bayern Munich in the knockout stages, when his backline conceded just three goals in four games and helped nullify the threats posed by Romelu Lukaku and Robert Lewandowski, respectively.

Barcelona links

As is customary for players who excel at Los Rojiblancos, he has been linked with a move to one of the most powerful clubs in Europe. Various reports suggest Barcelona are keen to land the defender and are willing to activate his €35m release clause.

Reuters/ALBERT GEA

Officials at the Camp Nou believe Lenglet can provide competition for first-team places to both Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique, despite both being recognised among the best defenders in Europe.

His release clause is not viewed as excessive, and reports in England suggest United, whom Lenglet helped eliminate from Europe, are also monitoring the situation, as they try to land a new central defender.

Too much too soon?

The hype surrounding the central defender is obvious as he possesses all the attributes to make a top-quality player. Indeed, the belief is that should Lenglet continue to improve at his current rate, he will one day be a future star for both France and a leading European club.

However, it must not be forgotten that he only possesses two seasons of experience in a major league and in an ideal world, he would obtain at least one more year before seeking a big-money move elsewhere.

This week he held talks with new Sevilla boss Pablo Machin, who outlined the club’s plans and how Lenglet would fit in the squad. The player is now set to go on holiday, having missed the cut for France’s World Cup squad, and return with a decision by the end of the month.

Of course, the Andalusian club would be powerless should the defender’s release clause be triggered but perhaps it is best for all parties should any move be put on ice for a season and allow Lenglet’s progression to continue in a controlled environment with regular first-team football.

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Colin Millar

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Colin Millar is a European football writer, with a particular passion for Spanish and English football, alongside that in his native Northern Ireland. Based in Spain, he is Deputy Editor of Football Espana and writes for a number of publications including the Daily Mirror NI.

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