Football Football

Wenger targets new ‘Nasri’ Grenier


CLEMENT-GRENIERLONDON, England, May 27- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed interest in Lyon midfielder Clement Grenier.

The 22-year-old has been likened to Samir Nasri in his style, and is rated at around £8million by his club.

Grenier, who scored on Sunday night against Rennes in front of Gunners scouts, came close to quitting the Stade Gerland last summer.

However, he seized on injuries to key man – including former Gunners target Yoann Gourcuff – to make 27 appearances, notching seven goals and providing eight assists.

And now the France Under 21 international could be set to earn a move to the Premier League.

Wenger told French programme Telefoot: ‘We are following him. His intelligence of play pleases me. He has interesting qualities. He reminds me of Nasri.’

Meanwhile, Barcelona announced on Sunday morning that after a transfer saga lasting some 18 months they have finally landed Brazilian international Neymar from Santos on a five-year deal that is expected to cost the Catalan club around 50 million euros ($65m, £43m).

The 21-year-old was always expected to come to Barca when he eventually left his homeland, but rather than wait till his contract expired with the Brazilian club next year, the Spanish champions have sped up the operation as they try to rejuvenate a tired squad that suffered the club’s worst ever defeat in European competition when they were hammered 7-0 by eventual Champions League winners Bayern Munich in this year’s semi-finals.

Even at his tender age, Neymar has already shown glimpses of his brilliance on the big stage with 20 goals in 32 international appearances, whilst his incredible return of 156 goals in 256 games for Santos at such a young age has seem him inevitably compared to Pele.

However, it is the potential to combine with another of the all-time greats that Barca are interested in as they look for someone to ease the goalscoring and creative burden on Lionel Messi.

Barca’s reliance on Messi was particularly exposed in this season’s Champions League when the Argentine was called into action whilst clearly carrying a hamstring injury to get them across the line against Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals.

Messi ended up playing only 75 minutes of the 180 in that tie. The period he was on the pitch Barca won 2-0, the time he was on the sidelines they lost 3-1.

Worse was to come for the Catalans, though, in the humiliation at the hands of Bayern. Again a hobbling Messi was forced into action in the first-leg as the Germans romped to a 4-0 victory, and with the four-time World Player of the Year consigned to the bench for the return, a Barca side devoid of creation and belief were again picked off 3-0.

In the two years Barca have won the Champions League in Messi’s stellar era, he has had significant support in the goalscoring charts.

In 2008/09 Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry combined for 62 goals to Messi’s 38. And in 2010/11, Pedro and David Villa contributed 55 to the Argentine’s 53.

Over the past two season Messi has reached the barely fathomable figure of 123 goals, whilst Cesc Fabregas comes closest with just 28.

-Daily Mail and AFP