Le50 2016: Grejohn Kyei – Stade de Reims
When Grejohn Kyei suffered a twisted ankle in November, he was originally forecast to sit out a period of around eight weeks. Instead, his path back to fitness would take over five months.
For Reims, this was a heavy blow. The 20-year-old attacker had featured heavily in Olivier Guegan’s plans at the start of the season and had done so successfully. When he was laid up, he led the Champagne outfit in decisive passes and had contributed a couple of goals to their cause. He was poised, it seemed, to enjoy a breakthrough campaign.
Injury has ensured that he will need to wait until next season at the earliest to be recognised as a star of the future, but when presented with the opportunity in his young career to date he has generally shone.
His first Ligue 1 goal came against Paris Saint-Germain on the final day of last term in a 3-2 defeat, but his 2015-16 season started with a bang as his two assists helped Reims become the first visiting side to win at Bordeaux’s Stade Matmut-Atlantique. Kyei’s brisk start was matched by his team, who lost only one of their opening six matches before the forward picked up an injury following a 1-1 draw with PSG.
As his momentum was beginning to build, this problem checked him, and when he returned a fortnight later he was not the same force that he had been previously. Then came his ill-fated ankle twist after he had scored against Gazelec Ajaccio.
Even before the season, it was clear the young man of Ghanaian extraction was set to be central to Reims’ plans this term, so it was a bitter blow for the club that they lost him.
Last summer his contract was extended to run until 2019. “This contract shows that the club has confidence in me,” he said. “It gives me a desire to improve even further and repay their confidence.
“I want to play as many matches as possible and score many goals. I’ve not fixed a particular objective for myself, but I’d like to score lots of goals!”
The club were excited about his versatility and wide skillset in the centre forward role, but they have not been able to exploit it as frequently as they would have liked. Additionally, there are aspects of his game that they know still need to be polished off.
“He’s an athletic young man, who has everything required to be a modern attacker,” David Guion, the director of Reims’ youth academy, told the club’s official website when Kyei first signed as a professional in April 2014. “He’s capable of playing alone or with another attacker. He can go in behind, but equally he can keep the ball.
“Now he has to improve his play with his back to goal, his finishing technique and his play with his head.”
The fruits of Kyei’s labours have been made only partially evident due to his injury issues, but his temper has been his biggest enemy in the past. Only a month after signing his first pro deal with the club, he was suspended for pushing a referee in a reserve match, writing off seven months in the process.
The player has argued that he has since matured after that incident, and his confident manner on the field seems to suggest that he is now carrying his useful exuberance in an altogether more productive fashion.
Although he has played for France Under-21s, he has indicated an openness to potentially turning out for the Ghana national side, as both his parents were born in the African state.
The youngster, who has been at Reims since turning out for their Under-15 side in 2010, has a younger brother also making his way through the system at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, the equally extravagantly named Scott-Beckam, who is a midfielder rated highly enough to be attracting interest from the likes of Lyon and Marseille.
So while one Kyei continues to stand on the edge of his big breakthrough, another may follow shortly after.