Rumours were rife in the early weeks of the summer that 22-year-old French playmaker Clement Grenier was in talks with Arsenal over a potential switch to the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger’s long and impressive track record of developing French talent into some of the finest players in the world proved not enough to convince the Lyon youngster, nor was the opportunity of playing the Champions League.
The youngster penned a new contract, extending his stay at the Ligue 1 giants, opting to stay rather than go to Arsenal but he insists he does to regret his decision to thwart his own move.
"I don't have any regrets about extending my contract, quite the contrary," he told ESPN.
“I'm still learning. We've had some difficult moments, particularly the Champions League exit, but that's part and parcel of a career.”
"I hope that we're going to have a good season. The Europa League is an important competition for us all the same," he added.
Lyon failed to qualify for the Champions League group stages via the play-off meaning they join the deuxieme competition on the continent the Europa League. Grenier primary functions as a central attacking midfield playmaker for Lyon for whom he’s already notched up two goals and three assists in five Ligue 1 appearances this term.
However, he can operate as a central midfielder or on the flanks, given his exceptional technical quality, flair and pace. Incidentally, Arsenal are currently without key players in Grenier’s position – the likes of Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky are all unavailable through injury.
Arsene Wenger has opted to throw youngsters Serge Gnabry and Ryo Miyiachi into the deep end and hope they swim but Grenier, had he have signed, could have found himself thrust into regular first-team action for Arsenal in the Premier League and Champions League – he could have covered for any one of the aforementioned regular starters in Wenger’s team.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald