Lille have not had the best of starts to the 2017/2018 French Ligue 1 season. Three games in and they have won just once, losing twice – the latest an embarrassing 2-0 home defeat to Caen on Sunday afternoon.
It’s evident they are in crisis especially, in the goalkeeping department.
Coach Marcelo Bielsa had named a list of players that were deemed surplus to requirements at Stade Pierre-Mauroy and it came as a surprise when Vincent Enyeama was among those no longer needed. He has subsequently been left out for this season, going in favour of Mike Maignan.
The 22-year old started the opening game against Nantes which Les Dogues comfortable won 3-0. In the second game away at newly promoted Strasbourg, the Frenchman lost his cool in the 63rd minute, throwing the ball at an opponent after an argument and rightfully shown a straight red card. Bielsa’s men lost 3-0.
Herve Koffi Kouakou took over duties against Caen but he lacks experience in the French League having just joined from Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas in June. Adam Jakubech is the other option but at just 20 years of age, he is also nowhere near experienced.
Enyeama had been the undisputed number one at the club since he made to move from Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2011 and his expertise is one that has been celebrated in the French top flight. The highlight of his brilliance was during the 2013/2014 season where he kept 21 clean sheets. It earned him the Ligue 1 African Player of the Year award and was the third best Caf Player of the Year.
Bielsa has a plan to restructure Lille but it is rather funny that he has decided to axe the 101-time capped Nigerian in favour of a protégé in Maignan. Enyeama is 13 times older than him and would hardly disgrace himself on the pitch the way Maignan did, as he is a leader.
Lille’s form has fallen since the 2013/2014 season where they finished third. That however didn’t stop Enyeama from delivering as his heroics saved the blushes of the weak Les Dogues defence many times over.
With the 35-year old Nigerian still at the club, it would be wise for Marcelo Bielsa to reinstate him into the first team as the transfer window is yet to be shut, meaning players can still be registered.
Even if the Argentine tactician decides to purchase another goalkeeper, it is unlikely he would measure up to Vinny’s standards.