Grenier targets career revival at Guingamp
By A. Scott
Clément Grenier is hoping a move to EA Guingamp can revive a career that not so long ago looked set to take him to a World Cup. His new club take on Stade Rennais FC in the Brittany derby on Sunday.
Stade Rennais FC - EA Guingamp
Grenier, 27, finally left Olympique Lyonnais this week, moving to the Stade Municipal du Roudourou just before the January transfer window closed. He has signed a deal for 18 months with Guingamp and the first step for him will be to get back playing regularly again after spending much of the past four years on the sidelines.
The attacking midfielder was once one of the most exciting young talents in Ligue 1 and he would have gone to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, only for injury to rule him out of Didier Deschamps' squad late in the day. He has not added to his five international caps since just before that tournament, and he last started a league game for Lyon on the final day of the 2015-16 campaign.
"I have not played much in recent years but I am still a football player. I don't want to talk about revenge, because I have always given my all wherever I have been. But I am here to take pleasure from playing again," Grenier said as he was unveiled at Guingamp.
Having returned from a disappointing loan spell in Italy with AS Roma, Grenier has managed just two substitute appearances for OL this season, most recently at Montpellier Hérault SC in the Coupe de la Ligue.
Watch: Vintage Clément Grenier
"It is an enormous challenge but quite honestly I have no worries about the man or the player," said the Guingamp coach Antoine Kombouaré. "The only question mark is about his physical condition - not his health because he has been training over the last couple of years, even if he has not been playing a lot. The challenge for us is to once more turn Clément into the player he used to be. But the more complicated the challenge the more determined I am to succeed with it."
Life in the quiet Brittany town could not be much further removed from bustling Lyon, but Grenier has seen what moving to En Avant has done for other players looking to revive their careers. One such example is Jimmy Briand, the forward who has also been capped five times by France. Briand is settled at Guingamp, where he is in his third season after a year in Germany with Hannover 96. Before that, he played with Grenier at Lyon.
Highlights: Rennes beaten in Dijon
"I had already spoken with Jimmy. He explained to me how it was here and I thought it was the right place for me to get back on track," said Grenier, who hails from rural south-central France. "It is a club whose values correspond to my own. When the president spoke to me about the town and the club, I felt right at home. I come from the Ardèche and the values that exist here are the same as mine."
Briand will lead Guingamp against his first club Rennes in the Celtico at Roazhon Park with Kombouaré's men looking for a repeat of their 2-0 success in the reverse fixture in October. The stakes are high, with Guingamp knowing three points from their hour-and-a-half trip by road will see them go above Rennes in the table.
Highlights: Guingamp outclassed by Nantes
Rennes, meanwhile, are looking to stay in touch with the top six and they look to be in slightly better form. While Guingamp have lost their last four matches in all competitions, including a 3-0 home defeat by FC Nantes last weekend, Rennes have been beaten twice in the last week. However, while they were disappointing in losing 2-1 at Dijon FCO last weekend, they can take heart from the way they competed with Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals, even in a 3-2 defeat.
"We need to play with the same determination and desire. We put Paris in difficulty, the best team in France, so we are capable of great things," insisted the Rennes defender Joris Gnagnon, who was encouraged by seeing new signing Diafra Sakho come off the bench to score on his debut.
"Right from his arrival on Monday, you could sense he was a good guy. He is eager to do well," said Gnagnon of the €5 million arrival from West Ham United. Having done well in Ligue 2 in the past with FC Metz, Sakho is now set for his Ligue 1 Conforama debut.
Rennes: Koubek; Traoré, Gélin, Gnagnon, Baal; Bourigeaud, Prcic, André (c), Sarr; Khazri, Sakho
Guingamp: Johnsson; Ikoko, Kerbrat, Sorbon, Rebocho; Phiri, Deaux; Ngbakoto, Benezet, Coco; Briand (c)