Olympique Lyonnais formalized the recruitment of Johann Lepenant from Caen on Wednesday. The 19-year-old midfielder has great potential and will launch an attack on Ligue 1 after having shone in Ligue 2 where he notably worked with Patrice Sauvaget. The assistant coach of Caen presents for RMC Sport the profile of the new talent recovered by the Gones, both his qualities and his areas of progress.
History will remember that the first recruit of Olympique Lyonnais after the arrival of John Textor is called Johann Lepenant. Jean-Michel Aulas had already leaked the news but Lyon then waited a few days before finalizing the transfer of the Caen midfielder against a check for 4.25 million euros.
Revelation of Ligue 2 with the Stade Malherbe de Caen, Johann Lepenant therefore left his training club where the staff of Stéphane Moulin pampered him for two seasons and did not want to block him when the Gones came to pick him up during the transfer window. .
A big receiver who “loves to defend”
After gradually gaining playing time during the 2020-2021 season, Johann Lepenant settled among the indisputable holders of Caen during the 2021-2022 campaign in Ligue 2. Logical, given his ability to multiply his efforts . At not even 20 years old – he will celebrate them at the end of the year – the central midfielder has marked the spirits and impressed those who rubbed shoulders with him on a daily basis in Normandy. Among them, Patrice Sauvaget is full of praise for the young player.
“He has a very, very high volume of play. He is someone who loves recovering balls who loves defending, explains the assistant to coach Moulin in the Caen staff with RMC Sport. And he is someone who a has good general technique with above average game intelligence as well.”
Like a former illustrious Caennais, a certain N’Golo Kanté of whom he is a fan, Johann Lepenant does not have incredible athletic qualities. Its size (1m76), in particular, does not allow it to take on the role of a control tower. Whatever, the collector compensates with his other qualities and in particular his reading of the game and his commitment.
“He’s someone who wins a lot of balls. Not by his physique because he doesn’t have a huge physique, even if he’s not the type to be trodden on. He shows that “He’s there and won’t back down, says his now ex-coach in Caen. He’s going to be more in reading the game, in the intelligence to cut the trajectories and find other subterfuges than physical strength.”
A boy “shy”, “erased” and not yet a leader of the locker room
After two great years in Ligue 2 in his Caen cocoon, Johann Lepenant has decided to take a new step in his career. By landing in Lyon, and despite the absence of European competition, the environment will continue its development there. According to his former educator, the international U20 tricolor (nine selections) will have to do a little violence to integrate because of his great shyness. As much on the field he does not let himself be done and is already “mentally tough”, as much in the locker room he remains calm.
“He’s someone who is very unobtrusive, very shy at first. Precisely, he needs to break his shell a little to express himself. He’s someone you’re not going to hear. That’s a big axis of progress at home, he must assert himself a little more as a leader, warns Patrice Sauvaget. […] He must assert his personality even more. In group life you are not going to hear it, it is erased.”
A midfielder not effective enough in front of goal
The return of Alexandre Lacazette to Lyon constitutes a fine attacking reinforcement for Peter Bosz. The arrival of Ludovic Giuly in the Rhone staff, to take care of the attackers, will also give a good boost to the scorers. And that’s good since Johann Lepenant has not yet managed to be killer enough against the opposing goal. Despite his 34 appearances in Ligue 2 last season, the midfielder did not score once and provided only one assist for one of his teammates. The neo-Gone has still not unlocked his goal counter with the pros. His defensive role does not help but this is the big black spot of his game, at the same time as his main axis of progression
“[Il peut progresser] In his efficiency in front of goal. He hasn’t been successful at all this year. I think he has a lot of room for improvement in relation to that, analyzes Stéphane Moulin’s deputy at the SMC. But he has already progressed in the orientation of the game, he has progressed in the long game, he has progressed in many situations so this efficiency in front of goal is an axis that he will learn.
Lepenant still has “time for his progress”
A great potential but not yet completely finished here is how to sum up Johann Lepenant’s career so far. At the same time, it is difficult to expect from a player of only 19 that he already has all the qualities of a champion in the championship. When discovering the elite with OL, it’s hard to say if the midfielder will one day play with the Blues, but he will have a little time to make his mark in France.
“The Lyonnais signed him for five years and not five months, finally insists Patrice Sauvaget. This means that it may take a little time for his integration into the OL club. […] He signed for five years. I think the club and the managers are counting on time for his progress.”
In Lyon, where Thiago Mendes has extended his contract but could be a solution in central defense in the eleven of Peter Bosz, Johann Lepenant seems to have a good shot in the midfield in competition or associated with Maxence Caqueret. It’s up to him to show that he can reach a new level with OL. After seducing Ligue 2, now we have to do the same with Ligue 1.