Rayan Cherki has earned links to Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool. Here’s the lowdown on the teenage Lyon midfielder.
‘Next Generation’ is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.
Rayan Cherki is Lyon’s latest academy prodigy and has set his sights firmly on the top, openly admitting last week that he aspires to one day play for Real Madrid.
He is the 16-year-old who has already made 12 senior appearances for Lyon and been tipped to emulate Kylian Mbappe as the next big thing to come out of Ligue 1.
Madrid are not alone in showing an interest in the teenage midfielder, though, with Manchester United and Liverpool also among those to have been linked.
Able to play on either flank or through the middle and capable of embarrassing defenders with his trickery, Cherki is very much a player with the world at his feet.
— Rayan Cherki (@rayan_cherki) March 9, 2020
After scoring in the UEFA Youth League at the age of 15, becoming the youngest player to do so at the time, Cherki was already a name on Lyon fans’ lips when making his senior bow.
That came in a stalemate with Dijon in October, making him the youngest player – at 16 years and 63 days – to appear for Lyon in Ligue 1 since Willem Geubbels in 2017.
By comparison, World Cup-winning striker Mbappe was still more than nine months away from his Monaco debut at the same age.
And while the game finished in a bore draw, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas heaped praise on the youngster and later said he has the potential to become better than Mbappe.
“He is more technical than Mbappe… and more important – he has broken out at a younger age,” Aulas told Tuttosport in February. “If he stays at Lyon for another few years, he will become even better than Mbappe.”
Aulas was not alone in hailing Cherki, with boss Rudi Garcia singling him out for his energy in the middle of the park – something that would start to become a more regular occurrence.
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) January 18, 2020
Praise and potential is one thing, of course – showing that you are capable of living up to the hype is another matter entirely.
In the five months between making his senior debut and the enforced Ligue 1 break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cherki regularly justified the talk of being the next big thing.
He has gone on to make 12 appearances for Lyon in all competitions – four of those as a starter – totalling 453 minutes in total.
Impressively, the France Under-16 international already boasts three goals and two assists, giving him a return of one goal involvement per 91 minutes on the field. He is also creating a scoring opportunity every 41 minutes.
Four of those goals involvements – two strikes of his own and two assists – came in January’s Coupe de France win over Nantes, earning front-page billing on French daily L’Equipe.
If Europe’s elite clubs had not taken notice of Cherki before then, they certainly did at this point.
— OL English (@OL_English) January 18, 2020
SUSTAINING HIS FORM
Lyon have a history of bringing through talented youngsters, with the likes of Nabil Fekir, Karim Benzema, Corentin Tolisso and Samuel Umtiti among them.
The first player born in 2003 or later to play in Ligue 1, Cherki now needs to maintain the form he has displayed in his first half-season in order to emulate those aforementioned stars.
And the attacking midfielder, whose solitary league start came away at Paris Saint-Germain, certainly does not lack confidence when it comes to his career path.
“My dream is to play for Real Madrid,” he said in an interview with Lyon TV last week, perhaps swayed by the progress of compatriots Benzema and Raphael Varane at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Cherki, also eligible to represent Italy or Algeria at international level through his parents, also outlined his intention to one day win the Ballon d’Or.
The versatile attacker still has a long way to go for that to happen, of course, and there are improvements to be made. One of the criticisms has been his insistence on going it alone too often, rather than taking an easier option.
“He has a strong ability to beat players but uses it too much and not especially wisely,” Garcia said at the turn of the year, perhaps trying to downplay the growing hype. “We have to be careful with our young players, that’s why we protect him a lot, especially in the media aspect of things. He is fairly quiet, but he must be aware that he still has huge room for improvement. The good thing about him is that he listens. If he continues like this, he will be able to go as high as possible.”
Heed the advice of his manager and the path to superstardom awaits for Cherki, whether at Lyon, Real Madrid or elsewhere.
Lyon’s youngster of many talents appears very much to be the next big thing to emerge from an academy that just keeps on giving.
PSG Part Ways With Silva In Pomp And Fair
Thiago Silva has been described as one of the greatest players in Paris Saint-Germain history as he prepares to complete a transfer move to English side, Chelsea FC.
On Thursday, August 27, French Division One side Paris Saint-Germain, PSG paid an affectionate honour to departing captain, Thiago Silva.
PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi in video tribute said, “Thiago, thank you for eight years of unforgettable memories, leadership and commitment. You are one of the greats and your legendary status at PSG will live forever.”
He added, “My very best wishes to you and your family for your new adventures, you will always be part of our family and our history, Merci Captain.”
Silva, 35, is expected to sign a two-year deal with Chelsea, according to reports in Britain.
In France, Brazil’s centre-back enjoyed eight trophy-laden years with the French champions, winning the Ligue 1 title seven times and five French Cups while making 315 appearances for PSG.
By Etienne Mainimo
End of the road for Choupo-Moting at PSG?
Recruited by Thomas Tuchel as a “supplement” player, Choupo-Moting was quickly adopted internally, both by the squad’s managers and by the players but his performances were below expectation, giving way to a series of disapprobation from PSG fans and sports analysts.
His heroic entry against Atalanta with the winning goal at the 93rd minute in the quarter-finals of the Champions League therefore changed prospects and attitude towards him. Fans and some players would like the management to extend the 31-year-old for another season, as L’Equipe reported on Monday, the day after the final defeat to Bayern (0-1).
Unfortunately, the Indomitable Lion didn’t feature regularly for PSG (9 appearance in the Ligue 1 championship), but he can still make a decent reserve.
According to PSG pundits, Leonardo (PSG’s sporting Director) is working on the arrival of an additional international-level center-forward, called to be a “joker” behind the Mbappe-Icardi-Neymar trio, or even to become a starter in case Icardi doesn’t live up to expectation.
Under these conditions, it is far from certain that he is offering a new lease to Choupo Moting, as he looks forward to the recruitment of a free agent forward who will be offering more guarantees than the Cameroonian.
Vincent Pajot stays at FC Metz
Vincent Pajot played with the Greens between 2015 and 2018. (Vincent Van Doornick / Isosport / Presse Sports)
FC Metz formalized the final transfer of Vincent Pajot, Wednesday afternoon.
Loaned by Angers with option to purchase on December 31, 2019, midfielder Vincent Pajot (29) will remain in Lorraine. FC Metz formalized this Wednesday afternoon i its final transfer. Author of three assists in eight matches in the jersey with the Lorraine cross, the midfielder is now linked with the garnet club until June 30, 2022.
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