The young defender is making waves in the south of Spain and has been identified as a transfer target for the Catalan club in the summer window
Clement Lenglet is a man in demand. The 22-year-old centre-back signed for Sevilla in January 2017 and has already established himself as a fans’ favourite at the Sanchez Pizjuan. So much so, in fact, that many of Europe’s elite clubs are watching with interest.
One of those teams is Barcelona. The Blaugrana are on the lookout for a new defender this summer and possibly two. Lenglet, who will face the Catalans in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final in Madrid, fits the bill.
Barca still hope their own French defender, Samuel Umtiti, will sign a new contract and extend his stay at Camp Nou. However, Lenglet is seen as a possible replacement should the former Lyon man move on in the summer.
And if not, Lenglet could be brought in to replace Thomas Vermaelen, who is out of contract next year and looks likely to depart at the end of the season. Sevilla, though, are determined to keep their player.
Lenglet is the last in a long line of talents recruited by Monchi at Sevilla and many of those, including Dani Alves, Seydou Keita and Adriano, ended up moving from Andalucia to the Catalan club.
Lenglet joined Sevilla at the age of 21 from Nancy, but admitted he had been wanted by the Spanish side since he was a teenager. “Monchi spoke to my parents when I was 17,” he said recently.
“My parents came to Seville and they thought the city was incredible. From that moment, I wanted to come, but my club didn’t want to let me go. So when they called to sign me last January, I fulfilled a dream, something I had been dreaming of since the age of 17.”
Monchi is now at Roma after leaving Sevilla last summer, but Lenglet has proved quite the parting gift. The defender has featured more than any other player for the Andalusians this season and was superb in both legs as Vincenzo Montella’s men knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League.
“Lenglet is a champion in the head and on the pitch,” Montella said this week. “He could play in the future for a big team like Barcelona but I hope he stays at Sevilla for a few years.”
And the 22-year-old, a left-footed centre-back with pace, physical strength and excellent positional sense, is happy in Seville. The French Under-21 international lives with his brother Corentin, a full-back for Sevilla C, and loves to walk the streets of the city on his time off.
The pair’s Spanish teacher, who has given lessons to countless players, said: “Of all the footballers I have taught, they are the most responsible of them all. They always have their homework done and they pay great attention.”
Barca have done their homework, too, but Sevilla are keen to keep their defender and the player said last month: “My agent is talking to Sevilla. I’m happy in the city and in the team. I’m playing a lot in a club that is in the Champions League, in the final of the Copa and fighting for everything in La Liga. I’m very happy as a footballer and as a person.”
Lenglet turned down Juventus to sign for Sevilla last year and is wary that he would not be a starter at Barcelona. The defender, who is also being monitored by Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane, has a release clause of just €30 million.
“He is a starter, he rarely gets injured and he has a great competitive mentality,” former Sevilla and France defender Julien Escude said recently. “He has all the characteristics to be a key player in future.”
And on Saturday, playing for current club Sevilla against suitors Barca in the final of the Copa del Rey in Madrid, he will have a chance to show both teams just why they should sign him up for next season.