Johann Lepenant, Lyon
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One to watch: Johann Lepenant, Lyon's new midfield anchor

One to watch: Johann Lepenant, Lyon's new midfield anchor

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Publish on 09/01 at 10:12 - S. TELFORD

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Olympique Lyonnais had some headline summer arrivals in Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, but it is Johann Lepenant who has been holding together their unbeaten start to the season.

Lepenant was a somewhat under-the-radar arrival from SM Caen, a France youth international midfielder who became a first-team regular for les Vikings in Ligue 2 BKT last season.

 

The 19-year-old has slotted straight into Lyon's midfield, though, starting all four of their Ligue 1 Uber Eats games this season, which have seen 10 of a possible 12 points picked up.

 

Back story:

 

Lepenant was born in Granville, the port town in Normandy that Christian Dior also called home, on 22 October 2002. While Monsieur Dior went on to establish a fashion empire in Paris, orchestrating play on a football pitch was always more Lepenant's style.

 

He joined his father, a coach at US Granville, at their local team when he was six and was scouted and recruited by Caen at 14. He raced through their age group teams as was handed his senior debut aged 17, becoming one of the youngest players in Caen's history. His younger brother Tom is still there.

 

During this time Lepenant became a youth international with France, and was part of the squad that included Tanguy Nianzou and Arnaud Kalimuendo which finished third at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil in November 2019.

 

 

Style of play:

 

Lepenant is quite a slight 1m76 midfielder, but he more than makes up for his frame with tenacity and a quick reading of the game. He thrives on both sides of the ball, winning it back with ease before distributing it either near or far.

 

In terms of style, it is not a million miles away from Marco Verratti, Paris Saint-Germain's midfield metronome who has never allowed himself to be dominated by physically more imposing players.

 

Current campaign:

 

With Tolisso and Maxence Caqueret struggling with injuries, Lepenant was thrown straight in to anchor the midfield alongside Lucas Paqueta and Houssem Aouar in the opening day 2-1 win at AC Ajaccio, and he has kept his place even with his competition returning.

 

No midfielder has played more minutes for Lyon this season, and it is becoming ever clearer why les Gones elected against making Tanguy Ndombélé's loan deal from Tottenham Hotspur permanent at the end of last season.

 

Watch: Highlights of Lyon's 2-1 win over Ajaccio

 

 

What they said:

 

"It's important to maintain balance, that's what the coach asks me to do so I try my best. It's part of my role to run, to recover a few balls, to play forward and make good passes. We can always do better but I'm happy with my game. It's going a little faster, the intensity is higher and technically it's also different, cleaner. It's a dream to play in Ligue 1."

 

- Lepenant after making his Ligue 1 Uber Eats debut.

 

"My greatest pride, beyond their success, is to see that they have always remained so humble."

 

- Lepenant's father Ludovic when Johann was with the France under-19s and Tom with the under-16s last year.

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