A near impeccable display against Manchester United over two legs in the Champions League last 16 put the French defender in the spotlight. A £5million signing from Nancy just over a year ago, the 22-year-old was one of Monchi’s last pieces of business in his sporting director role. He was a parting gift, you could well say.
So could he genuinely be Sevilla’s next big sale?
All signs point towards yes. His improvement has been steady rather than explosive, at first he was unsure with many of his actions and clearly needed time to adapt.
However, with time, the former France Under-21 international has grown to be an assured, confident presence and it’s clear he’s now comfortable playing his own game. He has only been at the club less than 15 months but it’s enough time to have garnered plenty of praise.
His performance against United at Old Trafford showed how Lenglet, despite being viewed as a ball-playing centre-back, can defend and cope with physical strikers.
The way he asserted himself against the hulking presence of Romelu Lukaku was impressive. Rather than be intimidated he remained focused and confident in all his actions and that allowed Sevilla to control the game from defence and move out quickly with the ball.
Lenglet’s ability in possession has been a source of much praise. He is the typical modern-day defender, one who is as comfortable starting attacks as denying them.
This season the Sevilla star has produced 1,383 passes in La Liga, with 1,151 of those accurate, an 83.2 per cent success rate. By comparison, Laporte was only slightly more accurate with 83.7 per cent while at Athletic Club. Both averaged 51.2 passes per 90.
That ability on the ball is what so many sides crave. However, Lenglet isn’t all style over substance.
He leads the way for blocks at Sevilla with 0.9 a game while his 4.6 clearances a match is only bettered by two players at the club. Aerially he is dominant despite standing at 6ft 1ins and wins 2.62 duels per 90.
Lenglet is however very much a positional defender, one who reads the game and snuffs out danger before a chance is created. It’s rare to see him panicked or throwing himself into last-ditch tackles. Instead he defends mindfully, making sure a striker doesn’t get himself in a position to do damage.
Clubs seeking a powerful, blood-pumping centre-back should look elsewhere; that’s not what Sevilla’s No.5 is about. But if a side needs a smooth, calculated defender who tends not get his shorts dirty, then Frenchman ticks every box.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have both been linked with Lenglet in recent weeks while Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City have been interested in the past, although the latter’s signing of Laporte may have ended their pursuit.
But given his performances, his age and his untapped potential, many more clubs are likely to join the race, especially as his £30million buyout clause would now be considered small change to many.
Sevilla insist they are working on agreeing a new contract with the defender but the club’s history is against them. They sell their biggest stars and there’s no doubt Lenglet is fast becoming one of them.