Scout Report – Gregoire Defrel
Southampton have entered the race to sign striker Gregoire Defrel from Serie A side Sassuolo as per reports from The Sun with AS Roma also keen on the forward.
Italian outlet Tutto Mercato Web also reports that fellow Premier League sides, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and West Ham United are also interested in the 26-year old, who had an impressive season last time around for Sassuolo.
Defrel finished the 2016/17 campaign with a tally of 16 goals and 5 assists from 38 appearances across all competitions. 12 of his goals came in the Serie A, helping his team to a comfortable mid-table finish. With so much interest surrounding the Frenchman, let’s take a look as to what makes him such an attractive prospect for the all the potential suitors.
Born in Meudon, France, on June 17, 1991, Defrel started off his professional footballing career in Italy when he joined the Parma youth side in 2009. After having spent close to two years with the club’s U-19 outfit, he was handed his senior debut in May 2011, as a 19-year old, in a 1-1 draw against Cagliari.
Ahead of the following season, he was sent out on loan to lower division side Foggia, where he enjoyed an average campaign, scoring just 4 times from 23 appearances. In the summer of 2012, Parma traded Defrel with Serie B side Cesena, while retaining a 50% rights in him. In his first season with his new club, the Frenchman managed just three goals, but the co-ownership deal was further renewed and he stayed put at Cesena.
He managed 4 goals and 5 assists from 44 games in his second season, helping the club achieve promotion to the Serie A, and Cesena retained him for another season, renewing the 50% registration rights again in 2014 and their faith paid off as Defrel had a very impressive debut campaign in the Italian top flight, scoring 9 goals and assisting 6 more from 36 games.
With Parma going bankrupt, Defrel was completely acquired by Cesena in June 2015 for a nominal fee and two months later, he was bought by Sassuolo for an undisclosed fee. In his first season for Sassuolo, the French forward scored 7 times and set up 6 from 33 games, before flourishing this time around, having found the back of the net 16 times.
Till date, he has represented Sassuolo on 73 occasions and has scored 23 goals for the club.
Style of Play
Primarily a centre-forward, Defrel’s strength is his extreme versatility as he can play anywhere across the front three and slot in as a No.10 role as well, which gives his manager great options at the top of the attacking line.
Standing at 180cm tall, and with a strong build, Defrel uses his body well to hold the ball up in the attacking third of the pitch and his ability to play short passes with extreme precision allows him to bring his partners into play. A fine dribbler of the ball as well, he can be a nuisance to the opposition defence with his movement on and off the ball.
Another strong facet of his game is his willingness to contribute to the team’s cause defensively when not in possession. His work-rate is highly impressive and he can put in crunching tackles as well. However, despite being fairly tall and strong, his ability in aerial duels isn’t anything like one would have expected it to be. His crossing from wide areas also leave a lot to be desired as well.
What Does The Future Hold?
At 26, Defrel has his best years ahead of him and judging by what he has shown so far, he can be a pretty handful utility man for any team he joins.
However, he does come with a risk factor for the English sides, having not played anywhere outside Italy till date. But Southampton struck gold once in such a player, having brought in Manolo Gabbiadini in the January transfer window.
With a contract until June 2020 with Sassuolo, the Italians are in a strong negotiating position are have reportedly slapped an £18million price tag on their forward (The Sun). It remains to be seen if the Premier League clubs are willing to shell out that much on a player who reached the double-figure mark for goals last season, for the first time in his senior career.