Jens-Lys Cajuste, the new flower of Reims

The city of Coronations has its new prince: Jens-Lys Cajuste, 22, heir to the crown of Sweden. The elegant Midtjylland midfielder settled down in Reims this January, becoming the club’s record transfer in the process. A hell of a catch for the Champagne club, since we are talking about a player followed by many European teams, listed at 15 million euros last summer and seen as a very great future. But who is this handsome Scandinavian and how did he seduce the leaders of Reims?

” Corncob ” . Admit it: we have seen more imposing as a nickname. But it is the one given to Jens-Lys Cajuste by his teammates, in reference to his large size and thinness. “Come see him at Delaune on Sunday, you will see that he is not that thin” , smiles Mathieu Lacour. And the general manager of the Stade de Reims can have a smile: in this month of January, he has just attracted a big fish, a salmon from Sweden, that the recruitment unit of the Stade de Reims had in its nets for several years. . “We’ve been following him for 2-3 years, he caught our eye. We traveled a lot to meet him ” , says Pol-Edouard Caillot, son of the President of Reims, but above all a talent scout for the Stadium. He resumed : “Jens quickly became inaccessible to us, even though we had already forged a strong bond with him and his family. We persisted at the end of August when we saw that he had not moved from Midtjylland. The door opened. ” And the Stade de Reims rushed there this winter.

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China, basketball and the American dream

Rennes, Augsburg, Fiorentina, Sassuolo, Newcastle, Brentford … The list of contenders was provided for Jens-Lys (or Jean-Louis, in VF) Cajuste. Destined to leave Midtjylland last summer, the young Swedish midfielder did not finally find a point of fall because of the claims of his club who expected at least 15 million euros. A hell of a tumble for a player who bought 170,000 euros in 2018 from Örgryte, an anonymous Swedish second division club. It must be said that until then, the American-Swedish had passed outside the radars of local clubs. But no Midtjylland and its formidable database. Neither of the Stade de Reims, which then began to follow him. In Denmark, Cajuste quickly made his hole and took part in his own title in 2019-2020, before discovering the Champions League in a prestigious pool with Liverpool, Ajax and Atalanta. Enough to become one of his prospects who are crazy about social networks, but also Swedish international. A path not so easy for a young man who for a long time imagined himself going to study in the United States.

And for good reason: born of a Swedish mother and an American father of Haitian origin, Jens-Lys Cajuste once thought about following the example of the older brother and sister, who went to say hello to Uncle Sam. “I sat down with Jens’ parents and tried to convince them that he would be up to the A team. His father wanted him to go to college and study in the United States., says Marcus Lantz, the coach who started it professionally, to the football channel. Then I tried to convince his father that he could also study and play football here in Sweden. I sat for many hours with Jens’ parents before he made the move to Team A. I saw something very promising in him. ” Traveling does not frighten the one who lived for five years in China from 6 to 11 years old, to follow a father who invested in venture capital in Beijing, where the young Jens-Lys discovered the football, him whose first loves were rather towards the basketball hoops. A love extended on his return to Gothenburg, his hometown, before starting as a pro at 17, being spotted by Midtjylland, participating in the Euro with Sweden and therefore landing at the Stade de Reims.

“Today the Danish championship has become more scouted than the Belgians or the Dutch. We keep a close eye on it, without making it a priority, because as we saw on the Cajuste file, it can quickly become unaffordable for clubs like us. ” Mathieu Lacour, CEO of Reims

“We are talking about a great European talent” , welcomes Mathieu Lacour, who details Reims’ strategy in this dossier: “We have three recruitment channels: young European talents like Jens, born in 1999, or Matusiwa and Faes who have made all the youth teams in their country. We are talking about top European talents in major nations. The second is the players from the Pro 2 group, with a little less certainty on their arrival, but who can confirm, like El Bilal Touré or Martin Adeline. And the last sector, the most complicated to have, is the confirmed players who improve the team. ” Jens-Lys Cajuste is therefore part of the first category, those of young nuggets “Called to become leaders and captains” , says the leader of Reims. “Today, the Danish championship has become more scouted than the Belgians or the Dutch. We keep a close eye on it, without making it a priority, because as we saw on the Cajuste file, it can quickly become unaffordable for clubs like us ” , concedes Lacour. So how did the club manage to afford this Swedish gem?

The Cajuste price

First, the half-hearted first part of the season for Cajuste – long injured and certainly affected by his false start last summer – lowered his market value, while his playing time dwindled. Then, the perseverance of the Reims recruitment unit paid off, assures Lacour, as did the infrastructures of the Stade de Reims, as well as the club’s game project: “We are the youngest team in effective playing time in Europe ahead of Leverkusen, and with the youngest scorers on the continent ahead of Manchester United and Dortmund. It’s not just a speech ” , insists Lacour, as transparent in front of a microphone as when convincing the player: “The ambition of the Stade de Reims is to become one of the three best stage clubs in Europe, like the Red Bull group or Sassuolo. We assume it, and the players know that when they sign, we can let them go when the time comes. ” Finally, there is the question of the check. And if the sum of 10 million euros has been advanced and may have surprised some sports directors in Ligue 1, this is not the case, says Pol-Edouard Caillot: “They are very surprised, as we too were to discover this amount in the newspapers, which is absolutely false. ” And Lacour to engage: “We are on the levels of Rajković (5 million euros in 2019, Editor’s note). We do not intend to make this type of double-digit transfer, even if there are some bonuses and a capital gain on the resale. ”

And on the field, what does it look like, Cajuste? Pol-Edouard Caillot takes care of the presentations: “We are talking about a very complete player, able to recover, to project himself, with great legs to protect and handle the ball. He’s a very modern midfielder. ” One box-to-box technical, powerful, rough (1 yellow card every 5 games on average) with a first touch of the ball often forward and claimed fan of Pirlo and Busquets. But also a discreet, humble, hardworking young man from an intellectual family “Who took the time to reflect” , portrayed Caillot. In short, the ideal son-in-law. “He is not that introverted and is not at all in the field” , nuance Mathieu Lacour, who reveals in passing that it was one of the players mentioned to Oscar García during the negotiations for his arrival on the bench of Reims: “He validated it in 48 hours. ” Ten months later, Jens-Lys Cajuste has successfully joined Champagne to bring the effervescence that is lacking in the middle of the 2021-2022 vintage. In Delaune – a lawn he has known since a friendly match lost 3-1 with Midjtylland against Reims in 2019 – he will probably not have too much trouble to forget the last recruit from the Danish club in 2013: a certain Mads Albæk. Hired until 2026 by the Stade de Reims, “Épi de Maïs” has time to make another nickname for itself in the fertile Champagne lands, before going to germinate in a larger stable. As for the Rémois, they just have to take out the popcorn.

By Adrien Hémard
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