There has been somewhat of a reputation building around Lyon’s academy success in recent years. In the recent past they’ve produced some exciting young talents who look destined for the top. If you don’t follow Ligue 1 closely you probably haven’t heard of one of the latest in a long line of potential stars in Clinton N’Jie. The forward has, as you're probably aware, just signed for Tottenham Hotspur and his potential certainly excited Lyon fans last season.
The Cameroon international joined Lyon in 2010. N'Jie developed his game and progressed through the academy before making his debut in the 2012-2013 season in a 3-0 win over Reims. Struggling to nail down a first team place, N’Jie had to wait until 2014-2015 to make his impact on French football.
In 30 league appearances he scored seven goals and assisted in seven goals. The more impressive number here is that he only started 15 of those games.
Last season the headlines coming out of Les Gones’ were about Nabil Fekir and Alexandre Lacazette. Rightly so, they were magnificent and a key part of Lyon’s season but many have overlooked N’Jie’s performances and the huge potential he possesses.
He’s your perfect forward who combines pace with trickery and an eye for goal. His link up play with Fekir and Lacazette made the trio a formidable force and with the talent Spurs already have at the club he could replicate it with the likes of Kane, Chadli and Eriksen.
We’ve seen a pattern in Lyon’s transfer business - selling one of their better players to make sure the club abide by FFP. The two prized assets in Fekir and Lacazette have already made their intentions to stay in France clear, but with N’Jie leaving that probably signals that if a good enough offer did come in for the one of them, they could be tempted away.
Spurs are believed to have paid around £12million for N'Jie, which seems like a snip. That would be enough for Lyon to cover their spending for this season though, so it's a decent fee for them. Some Lyon fans don’t agree with the concept of selling your better players, but it benefits the long-term safety of the club and in the modern game that is vital. Plus, ultimately, the lure of the Premier League and playing for Spurs was probably too tough to turn down and stand in his way.
So why all the fuss over the 21-year-old and what are Spurs exactly getting?
There is one thing N’Jie posses that makes him stand out - his incredible pace. This allowed Lyon to opt for a plan b and put a long ball in behind the defence for the forward to run onto. He plays on the shoulder a lot of the time and, I can imagine, is a nightmare to mark.
Like many who come through the ranks at Lyon, his movement is very clever. He moves across the defence picking up spaces left by the opposition before beating his man or creating a chance. He’s very good in possession and rarely gives the ball away, which should suit Spurs and their possession based game.
For his age he is very clever and mature. He's a team player and sometimes goes unnoticed because he does a lot of the ugly stuff. Perhaps that’s why he hasn't been hogging the headlines and the English media and fans alike don't seem to know much about him.
It’s clear to see that Spurs’ lack pace upfront. Harry Kane is a fantastic goal scorer but doesn’t posses that speed. Certainly not the speed that N'Jie has anyway. N’Jie would provide a reliable back up option for Mauricio Pochettino whilst also bringing versatility. He was used as both the main striker, a winger and played behind the striker for Lyon.
Lyon boss Fournier is a big admirer of the forward and paid tribute to him recently. He said: “Clinton N’Jie has an excellent goals and assists ratio over his playing time at Lyon. If you look at it from this point of view he is one of the best players in the league.”
The Cameroonian is rated very highly and if he continues his form from last season in France into the Premier League with Spurs then he has a big future ahead of him. N'Jie is definitely one to watch this campaign.
By Callum Read – @