Arsenal linked with crafty French attacker who could boost their title hopes
French, 22 years of age and currently one of the gems in Ligue 1 – the criteria are certainly all ticked by Arsene Wenger’s usual standards; but is the attacking midfielder what’s needed at the Emirates Stadium?
So far this season, the youngster leads Lyon in chances created after Steed Malbranque that just about beat him in that regard last campaign. In fact, only once this Ligue 1 term has Grenier failed to craft a scoring opportunity for his side.
Given that the player’s trade is in making chances and not stopping them, it’s unsurprising that Lyon don’t squeeze much of a physical asset out of their academy product, however. This season, Grenier has won just 53% of his duels, committing 16 fouls and winning only half of his headed battles.
In this sense, the playmaker resembles his Newcastle-based compatriot, Yohan Cabaye, who has also at one point or another been linked with an Arsenal switch in recent months: a master of one trade, but not even a Jack in others.
What is worth noting, though, is that the 22-year-old at least appears to be learning as he goes. It was in the 2012/13 season that Grenier made just 15 tackles in 28 appearances. In 11 outings, this term, the three-times capped French international has already completed 11 of his 16 attempts and appears more wiling to put a foot in.
With a passing accuracy of just 74% (the same as 2012/13), Grenier has all the tell-tale signs of an exuberant playmaker; one who likes to find the killer ball in the final third but still needs several attempts in threading the needle.
One has to ask, however, with the talent already in Wenger’s camp, is that what the Gunners really need? Mesut Ozil is happily bridging the gap between midfield and attack right now, with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky waiting in reserve should they be needed to play the role.
However, Arsenal’s system relies largely on certain players being interchangeable, and in no area is that more true than in midfield.
In a way, Grenier’s ascension alongside the likes of Maxime Gonalons, Gueida Fofana and now Yoann Gourcuff has been similar, so it makes it less of a mystery as to why Wenger might raise interest.
Although each player will undoubtedly have their specific strengths and priorities while playing, their versatility allows for flexibility, regardless of whether it’s a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation being deployed.
Such has been the approach of Arsenal this season, and it would certainly be one that’s working in their favour. The one major benefit Grenier does have about him is youth. At just 22 years of age, he’s a sight younger than Rosicky and it’s no secret that Arsenal would want to blood their talents earlier if possible.
That being said, with the quality within their ranks already, the French international isn’t a necessity right now. Wenger has more pressing concerns in the January transfer market.