Despite not coming even close to silver-ware for all this while now, Olympique Lyonnais have produced some amazing young talents in the past few years who have moved on to bigger clubs in search for career development – Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid), Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham) and Nabil Fekir (Real Betis) to name a few.
In 2018, when France won the World Cup, it wasn’t just an indication by Les Blues that the Golden Generation is here to stay. It was also the display of insane squad depth that the nation possesses.
Paris Saint-Germain is the only club who are serious contenders of becoming European Champions from France. But, the other top tier clubs boast some serious talent trying to make their name.
One of such clubs is Olympique Lyonnais, commonly known as Lyon. Les Gones have been overshadowed by Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille and AS Monaco in the past decade. This was just after they won the Ligue 1 in 2007.
The French club which vanished from the European scene after famously eliminating Real Madrid in the Champions League back in 2010. Lyon have been secretly developing their youth talent all this while in the last decade.
Today we take a look at three hidden gems in the Lyon lineup who can potentially become one of the key-men in any top European side right away or could change Lyon’s fortunes if the club manages to hold onto them for a long-term.
Three Hidden Gems in the Olympique Lyonnais Side who Could be European Football’s Next Super-Stars
Maxwel Cornet is a perfect winger, who can play on either of the two flanks. He is one of the players around whom manager Rudi Garcia has been trying to build the squad since the latter’s appointment at the beginning of the season.
Cornet has successfully managed to give his fellow team-mate Bertrand Traore a run for his money in the training. The right-wing spot is usually contested by the two young players week-in week-out.
Cornet is an amazing dribbler of the ball who can send pin-point crosses from the flanks. He is trying out on becoming a full-back recently due to a major influence of Barcelona’s Jordi Alba, on his playing style.
The 23-year-old has four goals and three assists in 22 games for Olympique Lyonnais this season. There is no doubt that he can see an exponential rise in his assists tally if he can complete his switch to a wing-back role for his team.
Cornet might be a suitable candidate for any of the top European sides. He is physically strong. He can dribble past opponents. And most importantly, he is defensively apt as he tracks back to mark the opponent attackers.
A prodigal talent who is showing every sign of becoming a generational talent, 16-year-old Rayan Cherki has made his place in the already talented Lyon side. He was promoted from the ‘B’ team earlier this year.
Cherki is an attacking midfielder who likes the ball at his feet often during the game. He is already rated at a market value of €18 million by the French club despite just being on a youth contract with the side.
The Frenchman has already played six games for Lyon. This has led to him becoming a fan favourite with the supporters drooling over the youngster’s prospect.
Cherki also has eight goals and three assists in the UEFA youth league and Coupe de France this season. This makes it 11 goal involvements in 16 games for both the Lyon senior squad and youth squad.
Not always does a player so naturally talented who is both-footed emerges onto the European stage so early in his career. Cherki has already played two Champions League games for his club.
His quick rise to fame and exploits for Lyon in the youth leagues has attracted interest from Real Madrid. If rumours are to be believed, the Galacticos might make a move for the advanced midfielder in the coming months.
Frenchman Houssem Aouar has been a revelation at Lyon. Despite the young age of 21, he finds himself as one of the first names on the club’s team-sheet before every game. He is touted to be Pep Guardiola’s replacement for David Silva at Manchester City.
Aouar is a naturally gifted technical player. He has excellent passing capabilities with expertise in through balls. The Frenchman, who is of Algerian descent, is a central midfielder who usually starts the game in a pivot role but moves to advanced positions higher up the pitch as the game progresses.
Aouar also is technically proficient in the transition from defence to attack. He moves the ball effortlessly from Lyon’s defensive area directly to the advanced forwards using through balls and low crosses.
The French U-21 International has three goals and three assists in Ligue 1 this season. But his prowess is hardly defined by the statistics.
He has been called ‘Incredible’ by Guardiola. He has rejected a move to Liverpool in the past. Aouar definitely has some serious English interest surrounding him.