Saving Private Rayan / Ligue 1 / J22 / Lyon-Saint-Étienne / January 21, 2022 /

Amine Gouiri, Pierre Kalulu, Melvin Bard: the names of young talents that OL have lost in recent years are not lacking. Jewel among jewels, Rayan Cherki is also beginning to question his place in the Lyon sports project. Before a sportingly and symbolically loaded derby, it’s time for accountability for the attacking midfielder, not really rewarded for his efforts so far.

It has almost become a habit. Whatever the weather, the broadcaster or the opponent, OL like to take out the oars at the end of the match when they are leading. Logic respected last Sunday against Troyes, where the victory almost passed him under the nose in the last moments (1-0). From the bench, Rayan Cherki also had to vibrate. But very quickly, he thought of something else. While his team needed offensive elements capable of holding the ball or breaking, Peter Bosz preferred to take Xherdan Shaqiri out of the closet, then call on Malo Gusto. Disappointment, nervousness, sadness, these are the feelings that inhabited the 18-year-old kid when he left the Stade de l’Aube. Doubts about the sports project that surrounds him and his place within the collective of the Dutch coach followed. For him, who has always said he wants to write his name in the history of OL as for those around him, a question arises: what if reason supplants passion?

That Bosz strong

“I have already learned a lot with Peter Bosz, smiled Cherki last October for Our Global. His philosophy suits me, he favors attacking play. I will continue to progress alongside him, that’s for sure. Our exchanges are good, we talk about football, we talk about tactics. “A real beautiful relationship which led the kid to get his hands dirty. First pushed to his limits by the enormous demands of his trainer, he worked hard to get up to speed. His entourage notably called on physical trainers and a video analyst to work on the specificity of the position of winger that he had never experienced among young people. And because you have to suffer to be good, he also worked on the need for effort, the development of his trunk and cardio. For this, the kid does not hesitate to make extra money by doubling a package of training sessions and banishing rest days from his agenda.

This work eventually paid off. Well almost. As the season went on, Bosz’s speech became more and more complimentary towards Rayan Cherki. Problem, the ground did not follow. Never established more than twice, the retraining winger has only played 286 minutes in the league (18 appearances, 2 goals and 4 assists in all competitions). Reduced to time per game, his total bottoms out at 34 minutes on average. Laughable, since he is only ahead of Hugo Vogel and Bradley Barcola, who have only played two games and one game respectively. However, the figures show a certain impact of the Lyonnais. He is sixth in shots attempted (19), passes leading to a shot (18) and balls touched in the box (40), and carries the danger like no other by being involved in 4.65 shots and 0, 93 goals every 90 minutes. Figures corroborated by the visual impression during his last outings: a dice pass against Metz, and fire in the legs against Paris.

False promise and desire elsewhere

The guy seems to have something to contribute, but OL’s sporting project, already very vague, seems to be taking shape without him. For his progress, his entourage then hypothesized a loan during a meeting with management in November. Proposal quickly swept away by a massive argument: thanks to the CAN and the departure of three offensive players (Toko Ekambi, Slimani and Kadewere), Cherki will have time to express himself and develop. So far, the promise has not been kept. Everything can change on the occasion of this derby, as important sportingly as it is symbolically strong. Without saying that you have to give him the keys to the truck, it would seem wise to start accompanied driving in the main arteries. Or to avoid the metaphor, bluntly: give more responsibilities to an unpredictable offensive element who only asks for that. Of course, he must gain in precision – that’s the game when you take risks – and in fluidity – like many young Lyonnais, many touches of the ball still interfere with his football -, but his qualities are compatible with what has need Peter Bosz, in search of results to prevent his head from falling in winter.

In reality, this derby is the beginning of a major turning point in the management of the nugget. At the end of the contract in a year and a half, he begins to wonder about his future. And many clubs are eyeing the situation by licking their chops. Major European clubs, but also others, intermediaries, like Nice, already on the lookout to exfiltrate Myziane Maolida, Amine Gouiri or Melvin Bard du Rhône. Without saying that Cherki is already imagining himself elsewhere – he will obviously stay between Rhône and Saône this winter – there is, however, one certainty: discussions around an extension will be closed for the next six months. The Lyonnais will then present himself in a situation of strength against his leaders, one year from the end of his lease. Jean-Michel Aulas’ speech has always been the same: Rayan Cherki is untransferable. A nice word that will have to be followed by proofs of love so that the alleged diamond does not turn into a pebble in the shoe at the dawn of an already key match in the Lyon season.

By Emile Gillet


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