French striker Neal Maupay is looking forward to a return to Griffin Park. Neal joined Brentford yesterday from AS Saint-Étienne for an undisclosed fee, but it was his second trip to Griffin Park. A pacey striker with a keen eye for goal, Neal began his career at US Valbonne before departing for Nice in May 2014. He would line up against Brentford that summer, finding the net as the French side fell to defeat in a pre-season friendly at Griffin Park. It is an afternoon that Neal remembers vividly.
“Yes, I remember playing here,” he told brentfordfc.com. “We (Nice) lost the game but I got on the scoresheet – it’s a good memory for me. I remember the stadium and particularly how close the fans were to the pitch. I can’t wait to get back out there, only this time in a red and white shirt”.
Following a three-year spell at the Allianz Riviera, Neal signed for ASSE in 2015. It was during a loan move to Brest last season where the diminutive forward found his goal-scoring touch, netting 11 goals in 28 appearances as Jean-Marc Furlan’s side secured fifth place in Ligue 2. Neal believes that his experience across the Channel stands him in good stead to deal with the rigours of life in the Championship:
“I’m not tall but I’d say I’m strong player,” he explained. “I’m used to looking after the ball and holding off defenders. Playing in England is probably more of a physical challenge than in France, but I’m ready for the battle.
“I’m a player who never gives up - I give 100 per cent on the pitch. I can play out wide or as a number ten, but my favoured position is striker. I like to play down the middle and use my pace to get in behind defences.”
Neal, who has represented the French national side from under-16 to under-21 level, says he is raring to go having completed his first move away from his native country:
“I’m very excited to join up with my new team mates,” he said. “It’s a big move for me – changing country for the first time – but I like to try different things. My first impressions of Brentford are good. I think I’m going to be happy here.”