ABC Pod: Genreau reveals motivation behind switching Melbourne City for Macarthur FC

His former side may be flying ahead of the pack toward its first ever piece of A-League silverware, but Denis Genreau has no regrets regarding his decision to depart Melbourne City for a new opportunity with Macarthur FC - with the eagerness for game time at the top of his priorities.

In a revealing chat with Robbie Cornthwaite and Daniel Garb on the ABC Grandstand Football Podcast, the 21-year-old central midfielder explained a lack of opportunities provided to him at City, combined with the promise of first-team football under Ante Milicic at the A-League newcomers were two key factors which affected his decision to depart the club in which he grew through the youth ranks for a new challenge.

As the Bulls now target a spot in the Finals Series in the club's inaugural season in the competition, Genreau says he's relishing his opportunity as a pivotal figure in Macarthur's best 11 as he utilises the maturity he gained on a footballing journey abroad to help mix it with the experienced players plying their trade around the league.

Download the ABC Grandstand Football Podcast HERE

Genreau (left) is enjoying a successful first season at Macarthur FC
Genreau (left) is enjoying a successful first season at Macarthur FC

"Ante (Milicic) said to me ‘you’re coming to Macarthur as a starter. We want you to get game time, we want to get you to the Olympics and back into the national team set-up’. 

"For me that was a massive, massive opportunity."

There was only one thing on Denis Genreau's mind as he made the switch from Melbourne City to Macarthur FC - to get the starting berth in an A-League line-up he felt he deserved. 

After making his A-League debut for City as a 17-year-old, the Australian U-23 international featured for a combined 543 minutes across three seasons at the Victorian side.

Genreau split his time at City with a loan move to Dutch outfit PEC Zwolle for the 2018/19 season, before returning to his parent club to feature just six times in the 2019/20 campaign.

The French-born midfielder has played 20 times and accrued 1,622 minutes for Macarthur since making the switch to team where head coach Ante Milicic told the club website Genreau was "the type of player you can build a club around" on his arrival.

Genreau says the promise of first-team minutes was what encouraged him to make the switch to the start-up side.

"I spoke to Ante in the off-season still when I was at Melbourne City," Genreau told Cornthwaite and Garb.

"I knew I wasn’t going to be staying at Melbourne City and I needed to find an opportunity somewhere else.

"He was one of the first people to approach me... Ante said to me ‘you’re coming to Macarthur as a starter. We want you to get game time, we want to get you to the Olympics and back into the national team set-up’. 

"For me that was a massive, massive opportunity. 

"I knew (Bulls assistant coach) Ivan Jolic as well, and they both said they had really high expectations for me, and I was coming as a starter.

It was my spot to lose basically. To have that sort of trust from the coaches was massive, and something I had from John (van 't Schip) but didn’t really have from any (other) coaches at Melbourne City. 

For me, that was a massive reason why I wanted to come here.

"There was a lot of turnaround in squad at Melbourne City when I was there," Genreau added.

"A lot of changes of coaches. You had John (van 't Schip), then you had Michael Valkanis for a little bit then Warren Joyce came in, which was a completely different style.

"Then we had Erick Mombaerts who came in... I was a young player who came through the academy, there were older players (and) a high expectation to win at Melbourne City as well, I guess it just never really happened - it’s just the way it is."

Genreau in action for City in the 2019/20 season
Genreau in action for City in the 2019/20 season

Genreau is now excelling in a Macarthur side laden with talent and experience. In Genreau's last Bulls appearance - a 0-0 draw with Perth Glory in Matchweek 19 - the 10 Macarthur players surrounding Genreau in the starting 11 had an average age of 30.6.

Plying his trade in midfield amongst the likes of Beñat Etxebarria, Loïc Puyo and Markel Susaeta, with Mark Milligan at times alongside him or strengthening the Bulls' backline, Genreau could have beeen forgiven for shrinking into the shadows of the veteran players surrounding him on the park.

But the young midfielder has looked at home amongst the big names - and he puts the on-field maturity he displays today behind his pivotal spell in the Netherlands which helped him grow as a player and person.

WATCH: Genreau scores one of his two A-League goals for Macarthur to date in the 2020/21 campaign

Genreau told Garb and Cornthwaite leaving home at 18 to venture to a foreign country, not knowing anyone except the PEC Zwolle coach and former City boss van 't Schip and his assistant Valkanis, was a huge change which forced him to "grow up pretty quickly."

Two seasons on and Genreau adds polish, craft and a cool head to a Macarthur midfield already oozing with class - and he's excited to continue to play a vital role in his side's push for Finals Series football.

"I think when we started off the season our expectation was to be in the finals," he said.

"With the squad that we have, the experience that we have, it’s definitely something we should be pushing for.

I don’t know if the A-League has ever been this close has it? With those finals spots up for grabs it’s very entertaining. 

Like a lot of the coaches have said, points at the moment are gold - whether it’s one point or three points, it makes such big difference.

"It’s pretty crazy but for us the next four games are do-or-die. It is in our hands at the moment in terms of the points.

"If we win our games we make the finals, so we’re not reliant on any results at the moment but it’s up to us to win those games."