Clement Lenglet: Barcelona’s unsung hero proves himself against Manchester United one year after doing the same with Sevilla


Clement Lenglet: Barcelona’s unsung hero proves himself against Manchester United one year after doing the same with Sevilla

With usual starter Samuel Umtiti suffering from a persistent knee problem this year, relying on a Nou Camp newcomer with only a few years’ top flight experience to play centre-back could have been a problem for Barcelona.

Instead, Barça’s summer signing Clement Lenglet has looked consistently assured at the heart of their defence.

Lenglet has managed to pull off an odd feat: playing 38 games for Barcelona this season without really being noticed.

It’s been a promising debut season for Lenglet at the Nou Camp

But far from a sign of mediocrity, for a central defender at Barça, it’s a good thing.

Asked to be brave under pressure, play in a high line, and spend more time in the opposition half than most centre-backs would dare, central defenders at the Nou Camp are just one mistake away from ridicule during their time on the pitch.

It is a vertigo-inducing situation with pressure that experienced, quality players have buckled under.

Lenglet, still only 23, looks like he has been doing it for years; like he has long been playing Champions League quarter-finals.

Lenglet has surpassed all expectations this term

He hasn’t.

Just three years ago Lenglet was plying his trade in France’s second division with Nancy, stepping out at tiny grounds in Annecy or Dijon rather than the Theatre of Dreams or the Santiago Bernabeu.

When the French minnows gained promotion to Ligue 1, Sevilla’s ever savvy sporting director Monchi needed only half a season to judge that the young centre-back could be good enough to make the leap up to LaLiga straight away.

Monchi’s vision proved to be typically sound.