After Toulouse move, Genreau keen to kick on with Socceroos

From becoming Macarthur FC’s first-ever Player of the Year, earning a Socceroos debut, experiencing an Olympics campaign, making a move to France, and receiving another international call-up — it’s been a whirlwind 2021 for Denis Genreau. 

A member of Graham Arnold’s squad for both the Socceroos’ June World Cup qualifiers and the Olyroos Tokyo 2020 campaign, 22-year-old Genreau’ strong 2020-21 was rewarded with a move from Macarthur to French Ligue 2 side Toulouse FC last month: the youngster thus far making three appearances off the bench he begins to integrate into coach Philippe Montanier’s squad. 

Les Violets — a former club of one-time Melbourne Victory ace Ola Toivonen — represent the midfielder’s second crack at Europe after previously spending the 2018-19 season on loan from Melbourne City with Dutch Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle — which at the time was coached by former City boss and current Greek national team coach John van ‘t Schip.

Injuries and the sacking of van ‘t Schip, however, curtailed Genreau’s efforts to kick on in Overijssel, and he soon found himself back in the A-League with City for the 2019-20 season. 

See Also: Socceroos call on their Foreign Legion as Mooy, Rogic, Wright, and Arzani all return for World Cup qualifers

But struggling for game time and feeling the need for a change of scenery to kickstart hours career, he left the club during the COVID-enforced mid-season break to sign with expansion side Macarthur FC — which featured former youth mentors Ante Miličić and Ivan Jolic on its coaching staff — for the 2020-21 A-League season. 

That move quickly paid dividends for the youngster as he became a fixture in the Bulls midfield, won their inaugural Player of the Season award and earned a senior international debut against Taiwan in June. 

It also served to propel him onto Toulouse and Montanier’s radar. 

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“The deal was done pretty quickly,” Genreau recounted. “[ I went] straight from the Olympics to Toulouse, and then basically straight into training off the flight.

“The team is flying at the moment, they’re doing well. First in that first championship, so hopefully things continue like that.

“There was a little bit [of interest from Toulouse] before the Olympics, after the Socceroos camps and the season I had with Macarthur, and then the I think they watched the first game against Argentina and were sort of looking to make it official.”

As far as places to live and work are concerned, the banks of the River Garonne in the South of France is a pretty good one — let alone playing with a team that sits atop the Ligue 2 after an undefeated six-game start to its 2020-21 campaign. 

Genreau’s French roots and ability to speak the native tongue — the midfielder was born in Paris — also helps with any adjustments. 

“Home for me is always going to be Australia — I’ve got my mum, my dad, and my sister over there. But all the rest of my family in France,” he said.  

See Also: Australia’s World Cup qualifiers will test Socceroos’ squad depth

“So to see them and to play in front of them — because they’ve always been following me from afar — to play in front of them up close, it’s special for them, I think, to be able to share these moments with me.

“[Ligue 2] a good standard. I think it’s a very physical League, a lot of duels, technicality, and you get some really good individual players. 

“I think as a team collectively, we’re very strong, Toulouse. 

“It’s only been six games but from the boys that I’ve met, so far everyone’s been fantastic with me and yeah, there’s a really good environment around the club.”

Jetting into Doha alongside veteran Socceroo Mat Ryan, September’s qualifiers represent Genreau’s third camp with the senior national team. 

Though he had to wait until 2021 to make his actual on-field debut, he was previously called into an Antalya training camp soon after Arnold commenced his second stint in charge of Australia back in 2018 — the coach keen to expose him, alongside fellow youngster John Iredale — to the national team setup. 

But whereas the purposes of the 2018 call-up were of a more educational bent, Genreau’s strong 2021 has seen him begin to feel a bit more at home in senior camps — September’s even offering him a reunion of sorts. 

“To see the boys again… the more you see them, the closer you get to them and the more you feel comfortable with them,” explained Genreau. 

“Seeing them [again], I’m a lot more comfortable with them, because I’ve met them before. 

“And in terms of the games coming up? I think everyone knows what we expect, and what Arnie expects as well from us.

See Also: “He thoroughly deserves his selection” – Daniel Arzani continues national team comeback

“Aaron Mooy, I’ve always looked up to him, you know, I used to train with him at Melbourne City. I remember a time I came on for him in a friendly game and I’ve kept the socks from that moment. Because, for me, it was special to come on for him. 

“I’ve always looked up to him, so to be back able to train with him, that’s something I’ve been really looking forward to 

When was in the A-League, I used to watch him really, really closely and try and learn from him every day in training. Seeing what he’s done in the national team and in the Premier League; he’s had a fantastic career. 

“So he’s definitely someone that I look up to.”  

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Header Image Credit: Football Australia

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