PROFILE | Once described by his agent as a ‘Ligue 2 player’ Johan Gastien is excelling in Ligue 1 | OneFootball

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·18 December 2022

PROFILE | Once described by his agent as a ‘Ligue 2 player’ Johan Gastien is excelling in Ligue 1

Article image:PROFILE | Once described by his agent as a ‘Ligue 2 player’ Johan Gastien is excelling in Ligue 1

This profile is taken from the 2022 GFFN 100, Get Football’s leading publication to be released at the end of the month, counting down French football’s 100 best players in 2022.

Known for his work rate, Clermont Foot’s Johan Gastien is enjoying his second stint in Ligue 1, despite once being told by his agent that he was a Ligue 2-level player. Johan, son of Clermont manager Pascal, may well have 259 second-tier games under his belt but he is excelling in France’s top division, proving he can compete with the best in the league.

Last season wasn’t Gastien’s only foray into France’s top division but it was his first as one of the first names on the team sheet, having played 15 games for Dijon in 2016/17 – half of those coming as a sub. In the second half of the 2021/22 season, Gastien was usually played in the centre of a midfield trio, often partnered with Julien Berthomier and Salis Abdul Samed, and was instrumental in Clermont narrowly avoiding relegation.

When the going got tough, Gastien was even played as a defensive midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 formation. However, Clermont often suffered heavy defeats, proving that Gastien needs to be partnered with another defensive-minded midfielder to show his metal as his box-to-box abilities were somewhat underused.

For the new campaign, though, Clermont brought in ex-Lyon ace Maxime Gonalons – a breath of fresh air for Gastien and the club. Playing next to such an experienced operator has enabled Gastien to not only be more assured in possession (he has himself admitted that, at his age, he’s not only looking to pass the ball sideways and backwards but is now looking to pass the ball forward and help with the attacking build-up) but be more vocal without it. Clermont’s form has dramatically improved thanks to this.

Last season, the team’s form dipped – just one win in nine games between February and April almost cost the club its Ligue 1 status – but this season, Clermont are a much tougher nut to crack, especially away from home. Clermont are still only six points clear of the relegation zone, which will include four teams this season, but the club can always rely on the Gastien family to keep them afloat.

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