Why Everyone is Talking About Pierre Lees-Melou: The Modest and Current Star of Brest

Stade Brestois have thrilled and excited in Ligue1 this season, miraculously as we approach the business end of the season their European dream is still alive and kicking. In recent weeks, figureheads from UFEA have made their feelings clear regarding the prospect of Brest hosting European nights next season.


In March, the football governing body sent inspectors to examine Brest’s pirate base, Stade Francis-Le Blé. Their safety audit concluded that the grand old stadium was not fit to host European matches but somehow you get the feeling that Brest might find a way to satisfy UFEA if they manage to creep over the finish line in the European places.



Eric Roy’s charges are the great underdog story of French football this season and central to their footballing foundations on the pitch is playmaker Pierre Lees-Melou. The former Bordeaux player epitomises everything that is poetic about this Brest story, the midfielder himself is an underdog.


Better Late Than Never


He turned professional later in life than many in the sporting world, the elegant midfielder didn’t make the grade a Bordeaux, he even worked several jobs outside of football before Dijon launched his professional career at the age of 22. Lees-Melou is said to be a dream to manage, grounded by the fact he knows the value of money having worked outside of football.


The manager who launched his career at Dijon, Olivier Dall’Oglio described the Lees-Melou as a player who kept his amateur spirit and is never without a smile. Today at 30, the Brest midfielder isn’t reading the headlines of some exciting Ligue 1 midfielder, he is the headline.


Eric Roy – The Architect of the Stade Brestois 29 Revolution


His star is shinning brighter than ever before, there have even been calls for him to be called up by Didier Deschamps to star for France on the international stage. When Lees-Melou was quizzed by baying press on his international ambitions he simply laughed, typical of a player who adorns modesty instead of designer clothes.


Laughs aside, there can be no doubt Deschamps has watched the player this season, his performances have simply been too good to ignore. Some might argue you need experiences from a bigger league and the Champions League to make the star-studded Les Bleus squad but don’t forget Lees-Melou has both. He played in the Premier League with Norwich in 2021/22 and even featured in Europe’s premier competition the Champions League in 2017 with OGC Nice.  


A Pirate For Now, At Least


Rennes tried in vain to poach him during the winter transfer window, a staggering salary of three-fold what the midfielder earns at Brest was on offer coupled with a hefty €10 million transfer proposal. Brest resisted and the player instead of having his head turned by riches has continued to be a beating heart of the team.



Brest surge at unsuspecting opponents, soaking up the pressure conjured by teams whose resources dwarf their own. Just when you think they might wilt they counter with venom, Lees-Melou a classy deep laying orchestrator even chips in on the ambush.


The Pirates when at their stimulating best work in harmony, co-existing bringing the best out of each other, manager Eric Roy has created an environment in which players look like they belong within a greater scheme, each with their own clearly defined role that suits their assets Lees-Melou is case in point. The defensive midfielder has four precious Ligue 1 goals this season, and his strikes have often come when games hang in the balance.



Four goals bringing ten valuable points that have helped propel Brest up the table, his scintillating strikes all have the Lees-Melou thumbprint of subtle class and individual brilliance. Jaw-dropping goals are not the only skillset in the Lees-Melou repertoire, for most of the season he has led the way in Ligue 1 for defensive duels and interceptions.


To add even more fandom to the player we need to look at the numbers behind his passing in Ligue 1 this campaign. Passing: Accuracy 88% – Passes to the Final Third 79.1%. His feats this season and rare skillset make the player’s level of modesty even more admirable. 


As he approaches his 31st birthday, Lees-Melou is playing the best football of his career and displaying a level that had not been unlocked at Dijon, Nice or Norwich. It has seen him nominated for the UNFP’s Best Player of the 2023/24 Ligue 1 season alongside Marseille’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lille’s Edon Zhegrova, and it could very well see him earn a call-up to the upcoming Euros in Germany alongside PSG duo and fellow nominees Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé.



Brest are guaranteed to play European football for the first time in club history, and they could very well be set for a berth in the UEFA Champions League next season. After drawing 0-0 to Nantes, Brest sit third in the table, four points behind Monaco, two points above Lille and six above Nice, and they’ll be looking to close out their season with a win at home vs. Reims and a win at Toulouse as they look to secure third place. Whilst the top three sides will qualify for the league stage of the UEFA Champions League, fourth place heads to the third qualifying round of the Champions League.


Midfield Architect


Lees-Melou is your quintessential all-round midfield maestro, he can do it all and at times, he makes it look completely effortless almost as if he isn’t even breaking a sweat. He possesses a right foot with numerous settings and an uncanny ability to ghost into the attacking zone undetected. 


Eric Roy has revived Brest; the players have bought into his exacting meticulous methods and have delivered the results to prove it. The grand old stadium has offered a deafening backing throughout their remarkable season, supporters of the French club explode with elation when a positive result is bestowed on them after years of starvation.



The midfield architect amongst it all Pierre Lees-Melou has simply been a revelation in the engine room since leaving Norwich in the summer of 2022. His work rate and game intelligence make him an integral component to the team’s ability to make their 4-3-3 formation sing at the Stade Francis-Le Blé.


The player’s short stint in the Premier League with an ill-equipped Norwich team that got relegated have improved him.  Regional paper Le Télégramme reported Brest captured the well-travelled midfielder for a snip fee of €2.3 million. However, he should think long and hard about abandoning the Pirate ship. At Brest, there is a unique family atmosphere and Lees-Melou is the tantalising fine wine on Eric Roy’s tactical table. 


By: Liam Scahill / @LiamScahill

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Baptiste Fernandez / Icon Sport