Ligue 1 – At 22, still in the top league, suddenly in Deschamps’ field of vision: The crazy story of Jonathan Clauss

From the Oberliga to the rise of Arminia Bielefeld and now to the French national team? The Crazy Rise of Jonathan Clauss.

If you want to know something about the qualities of Jonathan Clauss, you are in good hands with Arminia Bielefeld fans.

The fact that Arminia is playing first class again today has a lot to do with the now 29-year-old Frenchman. Of course, Fabian Klos outshined most of his teammates as an insatiable goal machine, but what Clauss played in the 2019/20 promotion season was also more than impressive.

At that time, Clauss was directly involved in 13 goals. But what distinguished him even more than the pure numbers would suggest at that time was his incredible flexibility.

On the right, Clauss can play everything from right-back to winger. At his new club RC Lens, to which he switched in 2020, he took another step forward and indirectly caused an upset with national coach Didier Deschamps – because more and more people want to know when Clauss will finally make his debut for the Equipe Tricolore.

Clauss commuted through amateur football

It’s a meteoric rise that Clauss has made in recent years. Clauss was born in Strasbourg, just across the German border. He spent his youth with the local traditional club Racing, but he did not make the breakthrough to become a professional there. Instead, Clauss switched to the lowlands of French amateur football as a 17-year-old. At Vauban Strasbourg he played in the fifth and sixth league, after three years he went across the border to the Baden Oberliga club SV Linx.

After two years in Germany, Clauss, now 22 years old, moved back to France. Nothing indicated that he could succeed in the development that he was to take later. After all, he now made it into the professional field, first in the third, then in the second French league. At Quevilly Rouen he wasn’t able to help the newly promoted team to stay up in the league, but his good performances caught the attention of Arminia Bielefeld’s scouts.

The sporting management around Samir Arabi did not hesitate for long and signed Clauss on a free transfer. And for both sides it was a decision that, in hindsight, could not have been made better. Clauss quickly established himself as a regular player in the first season, and in the second year they went up to the Bundesliga together.

Clauss mixes up Ligue 1 with Lens

But Clauss could not resist the lure of home and joined Ligue 1 promoted RC Lens. And history should repeat itself. The change was not only a stroke of luck for Clauss, Lens also benefited to an unimagined extent. As a league newcomer, the club finished in a strong seventh place in the first season, in the current season Lens is even sniffing the Champions League places after more than a third of the way. One of the cornerstones of success: Jonathan Clauss.

In the 3-4-1-2 system practiced by coach Franck Haise, Clauss works on the right side, where his flexibility in defense and offense comes into its own. He has already been involved in eight goals this season. And now there are quite a few voices calling on Deschamps to finally nominate Clauss. And the world champion coach obviously felt a little offended, because when asked about it during the past international break, he made it clear that Clauss was of course on his list – but not because everyone would ask for it.

In France’s strong squad, the right-back position is a small weakness. In the opinion of many observers, Benjamin Pavard from FC Bayern lacks the offensive quality, his representative is Olympique Lyons Leo Dubois, who also does not embody world class. Deschamps recently even converted his team’s system to a back three, which some critics believe makes no sense with the existing staff. Recently, Deschamps even tested Kingsley Coman on the right.