It’s true, the team needs an able defence and an anchor and Eric Abidal and Co. have made sure to address this issue. While Arthur looks a promising player, Lenglet looks more of a composed signing and an able back-up. So, let’s have a look at what he brings to the table.
Lenglet started with French club Nancy, gradually rising from the reserves to the first team and in the 2015-16 season, helped them win the Second Division and thereby promotion. His performances earned him a move to Spanish side Sevilla in January 2017.
He made his league debut against Real Madrid as the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan witnessed a 2-1 historic win, ending their 40-match unbeaten streak. A string of consistent performances in the league as well as in the Champions League (memorably against Manchester United) earned him the move to FC Barcelona in a €35 million deal, making him the sixth player to hop the Andalusian bandwagon for the Camp Nou.
Clement Lenglet for Sevilla was a reliable presence at the back. He is an astute tackler who likes to take risks, especially in tight situations like around the penalty box. Primarily a left-footed player, he passes the ball like it’s Christmas and likes to distribute the play.
Lenglet tends to keep it simple: he has a knack of playing short passes and with a passing accuracy of around 84%, the team can trust him with the ball. Also, his ability to deliver long passes is above average: his average of around three long balls per game is on par with Samuel Umtiti and definitely a cut above other centre-backs.
He likes to dissolve pressure in the back third and averages slightly more than four clearances per game, more than Gerard Pique and Umtiti. And finally it’s worth noting he played more than 50 times for his side last season mostly as a starter, hopefully he can remain injury-free during his time at the Camp Nou.
However, he does have weaknesses which may be a cause for concern. With number of fouls just less than two committed per game, Lenglet has shown vulnerabilities in the defence line and has to improve his decision-making skills and technique. In his defence, he is only 23 and has ample time to improve.
Lenglet is definitely a promising player who can challenge for a place in the starting XI. Barcelona need players who can bring competition to the starting lineup and Lenglet has enough quality to do that.
Calm and composed at the back, he is reliable and plays well but is not quite ready to be first choice yet just. He definitely has the ability to improve over the course of time, and he should develop at the Camp Nou. It will be interesting to see him and Yerry Mina in tandem if Ernesto Valverde chooses to experiment or needs to rest Umtiti and Pique.
Barcelona have not enjoyed too much success with their defensive targets of late, with Umtiti being the last successful acquisition. Some targets have misfired while others simply did not fit into the Barca philosophy, so it will be crucial for Lenglet to adapt as soon as possible.
It’s difficult to say that he’s a steal at €35 million and while he does not look the most exciting signing right now only time will tell whether he is money well spent. Let’s hope this acquisition doesn’t backfire on Barcelona and the team has finally landed a defender worth the risk and investment.