Grenier still growing
Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Clément Grenier sits down with Ligue1.com to talk about his new contract, nascent talent, and hopes for the future.
Times are decidedly tough at Olympique Lyonnais right now. Building a new stadium without Champions League revenues has forced the club to take drastic cost-cutting measures, yet they still managed to convince playmaker Clément Grenier to sign a new deal in the summer - news that made the close season a whole lot easier for Lyon fans to bear.
"I decided to extend my contract because I feel I can keep on improving at Lyon, where I’m playing regularly," Grenier told beIN Sport. "This club has helped me a lot since I was a little boy, so there was no way I was going to leave on a free transfer."
Grenier's stunning free kicks caught the attention of Arsenal and Juventus last spring, but the Frenchman looks to have misplaced his set piece magic this term - and his general form has also suffered.
"It's not easy to score free kicks. There are days when the goal looks huge but others when it looks tiny and it's impossible to score. I'm not in great form, but over the course of a career, or a season, you're always going to have dips," laments Grenier, whose two goals have come from open play this season. "It's hard to be good all the time, especially when you're young. I'm learning every day and I'll keep on working hard to try to realise my potential."
Grenier's inconsistent form this season has coincided with a dip in results for Lyon. Champions for seven consecutive seasons between 2002 and 2008, Les Gones are currently languishing in mid-table, having already lost six times, including defeats against the league's top two AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.
"There's a big gap because the finances aren't the same. They've got experienced players, top players in every position. They've got practically two teams each. The gap's too big for us to compete at the moment. We need to be humble and accept our position today. It's not always easy but we're working hard every day to reach our objective, and that means trying to finish in the top five."
Lyon may no longer be title contenders, but with Grenier and skipper Maxime Gonalons extending their contracts until 2016, and a host of youngsters coming through the ranks, a return to the glory days may not be that far away.
"Olympique Lyonnais is respected throughout Europe thanks to its past achievements," continues Grenier, who made his Lyon debut in 2009 after coming through the youth academy. "The club is building a new stadium, and that's made things very tricky in recent times. We don't have the financial clout we had a few years ago, but despite that we want to progress all the time. I think two years from now, after a couple of transition years, when the new stadium arrives, we can begin a new era with a new generation of players."
Grenier has added motivation of trying to force his way in to Didier Deschamps' World Cup plans. Capped three times by France, the 22-year-old knows he will only be on the plane to Brazil if he improves on his stats of two goals and four assist so far this term.
"When you are French and available to play for France, you want to go to the World Cup. But there are still a lot of games to play between now and next summer, lots of things can happen. I'm thinking about it, it's one of my objectives and I'm working hard every day to get picked, but it'll only happen if I play well for my club."
Nobody who has witnessed Grenier at his best can question his talent. If the Frenchman rediscovers his best form, it could be great news for both Lyon and Les Bleus.