Barça’s new Defender: Lenglet
Clement Lenglet’s move to Barcelona sees him continue his remarkable upward trajectory and serves as a fitting reward for his polished performances with Sevilla over the last 18 months.
Having joined Sevilla from French side Nancy for €5 million in January of 2017, he gradually rose to prominence this campaign especially, in a crusade where Los Nervionenses endured plenty of managerial turmoil. Despite this, the central defender shone, relishing the chance to prove himself and gain vital experience against many of the top teams in La Liga. Meanwhile, he impressed in Europe as Sevilla reached the Champions League quarter-finals, with his displays throughout their ousting of Manchester United especially noteworthy.
Powerful, quick, intelligent and technical, the Frenchman should fit seamlessly into Ernesto Valverde’s squad. Although an inherent period of integration will be required, once up to speed and comfortable with his manager’s philosophy, Lenglet will be a great asset to the Catalans.
Being accomplished in possession is always a prerequisite for any defender joining Barca, and the 23-year-old certainly fits the bill in this regard. A thoughtful and incisive distributor, Lenglet doesn’t dwell on the ball, instead being intent on moving it quickly when possible to add tempo to offensive moves. Exercising good judgment with his pass selection, he waits for the perfect moment before playing progressive balls, as he’s capable of changing the angle of attacks, bypassing opposition lines and playing balls over the top.
While he likes to be expansive when the time is right, it’s quite rare to see him play unnecessarily risky passes, with him exhibiting patience to recirculate if no upfield options are viable.
The predominantly left footed stopper, who’s competent with both feet, is also a tidy dribbler; an aspect that he deploys so he can carry the ball upfield and provoke pressing actions from opponents to create a free man. If no open lanes arise, he’s displayed his ability to powerfully or skillfully beat his man or calmly pass backwards or sidewards to reset again.
With Valverde’s desire to split his central defenders towards the edge of the box in build-up, something Lenglet did adeptly while working under the likes of Jorge Sampaoli, Eduardo Berizzo and Vincenzo Montella at Sevilla, he’ll will be well equipped to hit the ground running here. By doing so, this method horizontally stretches out the opposition’s first line of pressing, while also generating room for the holding midfielder to drop into and creating a numerical superiority to help move up the pitch smoother.
Meanwhile, on the defensive end, he undertakes his work in a proactive, aggressive and intelligent manner. Always eager to ensure his man never enjoys an easy touch, Lenglet responds sharply to pressing triggers to make things as uncomfortable as possible for his adversaries.
He especially excels when his marker drops deep towards goal, where Lenglet gets touchtight so his opponent has minimal time or space to execute their decisions. While there is inherent risk attached to this if his timing is poor, Lenglet typically doesn’t lapse, meaning his man struggles to turn him, receive cleanly or hit first time passes, therefore forcing turnovers with regularity.
Crucially, a fellow midfielder such as Steven Nzonzi would often drop back to restore structural stability to the backline when he pushed out.
When not defending in the aforementioned style, the Beauvais born defender’s demonstrated his neat positional sense, which is underlined by his coherent lateral shifts and timing when to move up higher or drop back in unison with his backline.
By remaining so concentrated and through using persistent head scans not too much is missed by the fomer French U21 international, which, in fusion with his pace, sees him track runs in behind (from forwards and mids), cover swiftly in behind his teammates, mop up any missed marking assignments or help stop counters before they can fully develop.
Another notable characteristic of his work has been the leadership he’s demonstrated, for he was key in communicating with his teammates, both verbally and non verbally, to help organise the defensive shape and crossover any marking duties.
Statistically speaking, Lenglet’s numbers from last term punctuate his quality, as he completed 45.96 passes per 90 at an 86.9% completion rate, hit 3.31 accurate long balls p90, pinpointed 3.18 passes into the final third p90, chimed in with 5.12 interceptions p90, made 3.10 clearances p90, won 2.43 aerial duels p90 and blocked 0.46 shots p90.
Playing and learning from new teammates, Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti, is something Lenglet’s particularly looking forward to, as he can’t wait to absorb as much as possible from the two defensive stars. “I know that they were two players who played a lot last year, but that does not pose any problem,” he explained to France Football.
“I will learn from them because they are two players who have more experience than me, who perform in the big matches. I will observe them every day during training and I will listen to their advice.”
Upon combining this with working under the meticulous Valverde, who will be keen to refine every area of his game, there’s no reason to suggest Lenglet won’t fulfill his incredible potential and be a terrific servant of the club for many years to come.
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With Arturo Vidal, Arthur Melo, and Malcom on the mix, how can this Frech National make a difference for Barcelona? Don’t forget to bet on Spain’s top football league and other international fights via Skype betting placement! Want more of this Player Analysis? Make sure to subscribe on our page to get the latest sports news out there!