Mercato – Johann Lepenant (ex-Caen) à l’OL : “Il peut être la belle surprise de la saison 2022-23” selon Cédric Hengbart

The time for the big leap has already come for Johann Lepenant. At 19, the midfielder trained in Caen has just joined Olympique Lyonnais after spending a season and a half in Ligue 2. In an express timing, the native of Granville, French international U20, made the unanimity within the Norman club. And now, the Gones can rub their hands. Cédric Hengbart, who trained him in National 2 then two months in L2 when he succeeded Pascal Dupraz with Fabrice Vandeputte in March 2021, is not ready to forget the young jewel.

As soon as the 2020-21 season resumes, the Savoyard technician invites him to train with the professionals. But first leaves it available to the reserve on weekends. “Each time, he dazzled the meetingstells us the new coach of Blois (N2). It’s not the player who takes the ball and dribbles around. But he is always regular. I remember our discussions with Pascal Dupraz: we knew that the day he was going to start as a pro, he would let everyone agree. The goal was to launch it at the best time.”

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After a few brief minutes picked up here and there in L2, the famous day arrives on January 20, 2021 at Guingamp (3-1) on behalf of the sixteenth-finals of the Coupe de France. In a Stade du Roudourou behind closed doors, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Johann Lepenant starts and shines in the middle of the field. Confirmed in his choice, Pascal Dupraz established him again for the reception of PSG (0-1) in the next round. The Granvillais will never again lose his place in the Caen eleven. Very comfortable in the passing game, the pocket midfielder (1.76m) “is able to run for a long time and in the right timing“.

OL want it: Lepenant, nicknamed “Lampard”, closer to Kanté

He excels in collective play because he is always available for his partneranalyzes his former coach in Caen. He takes football as a pleasure and a game. There are fewer and fewer players like that. One day, I asked him to play central defender. And his answer struck me: ‘ah great, it’s been a long time since I played there’. Usually, players complain if you don’t play them at their position. Even when he is a substitute, he gives 100% when he returns. He just wants to play football.”

I don’t have any stats, I know that. I have to improve on this level

Johann Lepenant still has two areas for improvement: athletic impact and attacking play. In a season and a half of L2, his record in terms of statistics is too meager: zero goals and one assist. Last February, Stéphane Moulin, his coach during the 2021-22 financial year, insisted on this point at a press conference.

To reach a milestone, he must have even more influence on the team’s results. It is necessary to exceed its function a little bit to be able to reach a level that it does not yet have today. He must reach this milestone in the next two years.“, hammered the Caen coach. “I don’t have any stats, I know that. I have to improve on this level“, acknowledged Johann Lepenant in remarks reported by the Sport site in Caen.

Neymar in the duel with Johann Lepenant during the 32nd round of the Coupe de France between Caen and Paris Saint-Germain, February 10, 2021

Credit: Getty Images

In Lyon, with Maxence Caqueret, Houssem Aouar, Thiago Mendes, Jeff-Reine Adelaïde or even perhaps Corentin Tolisso, Johann Lepenant will have XXL competition in the middle. But Cédric Hengbart is not worried. “He arrives in a big club and will rub shoulders with very great players. He will have a period of adaptation and it is completely normal. Before letting go completely, Johann must feel goodrecalls the former right-back from Auxerre. It’s the style of player who knows how to adapt even if the level increases. I am convinced that he will still progress in Lyon. If the club hired him this summer, it is because they know that Johann can succeed immediately. He can be the nice surprise of the 2022-23 season.”

Cédric Hengbart, who has “rarely seen such a complete player“, even sees him take new steps.”For me, it was certain that he was going to play in Ligue 1. Afterwards, if he wants to go higher, it will depend on many factors. In Lyon, he will develop the athletic side. He is still young, you have to be patient. But if one day he joins the Blues, I wouldn’t be surprisedFrom now on, Johann Lepenant must confirm the hopes placed in him. On the ground, his favorite place of expression.

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