Few clubs in Europe can boast a production pipeline like Lyon.
With one of the continent’s best youth academies, Les Gones have paired exciting homegrown products with the established talents to claim one of football’s most scouted sides.
With nearly half of Lyon’s first team being the subject of transfer rumors, both judicious and farcical, here’s a ranking of all the players who could leave, what they’d likely cost, and who’s reportedly interested. All indications are that the likes of Martin Terrier, Leo Dubois, and Bertrand Traore are staying put, and with club legend Juninho now in charge as sporting director, it will be interesting to see if the core pieces can be preserved.
9) Kenny Tete
Potential transfer fee: €10M
Linked with: Wolves, Roma
Splitting right-back duties with Dubois has somewhat stymied Kenny Tete’s progression. Still, the 23-year-old’s occasional forays as a right-sided midfielder should draw the attention of potential suitors thanks to the Dutchman’s defensive contributions and crossing skills. A member of the Netherlands’ suddenly strong backline corps and a part of superagent Mino Raiola’s trove of talented footballers, Tete could probably be had for a fee likely double the £3.6 million paid to Ajax in 2017.
8) Maxwel Cornet
Potential transfer fee: €15M
Linked with: Watford, AC Milan
On his day, Lyon academy graduate Maxwel Cornet is capable of great things; just ask Manchester City. The 22-year-old’s three goals against the Premier League juggernaut are one more than he’s scored in nine Ligue 1 starts, highlighting the abundance of attacking players among Les Gones’ ranks that has delayed the progression of Cornet and others. The former French youth international is also a skilled passer.
7) Lucas Tousart
Potential transfer fee: €20M
Linked with: Manchester United, Tottenham
Sometimes lost among the talk of Lyon’s prodigious midfield is the no-nonsense work of 22-year-old defensive barrier Lucas Tousart. Following a breakthrough 2017-18 campaign in which he started all but one of Lyon’s league outings, Tousart was linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs. While some of that hype has dissipated and shifted to his Les Gones mates, he’s displayed a penchant for ball recoveries and his physical attributes would be well-suited to the Premier League.
6) Moussa Dembele
Potential transfer fee: €40M
Linked with: Manchester United
Manchester United have reportedly contacted Lyon over Moussa Dembele’s services a year after the Ligue 1 side plucked the decorated former French youth international from Celtic for £20 million. “I signed for five years with Lyon and I’m happy there but we’ll see what happens,” Dembele said recently, doing the footballer’s equivalent of the £5-note-on-a-fishing-line trick. One thing’s for sure, Dembele’s not off to Leicester City for a reunion with Brendan Rodgers.
5) Memphis Depay
Potential transfer fee: €40M
Linked with: Liverpool, Manchester United
Owner Jean-Michel Aulas won’t mind if Memphis Depay leaves in the summer despite the Dutch attacker’s fine form at Lyon that’s seen the 25-year-old end the season red-hot with four goals in five. The former Manchester United flop is perpetually linked with a return to Old Trafford, and Depay certainly thinks he’s good enough to play for a club of that stature. “I want to go to a club like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, or Bayern Munich,” Depay admitted in January. Sure thing, buddy.
4) Nabil Fekir
Potential transfer fee: €40M
Linked with: Liverpool, Tottenham, Real Madrid
Nabil Fekir’s move to Liverpool last summer dissolved courtesy of a long-term knee injury noted in the Frenchman’s physical, but a year on, it appears the 25-year-old Lyon-born dribbler has played his final match for Les Gones. Liverpool have reportedly cooled their interest, but with speculation that Fekir and Aulas have a “gentleman’s agreement” coupled with the club chairman’s assertion that it would “take a big, big effort to try to convince Nabil … to stay when he was almost sure he could go,” the creative crux can start packing.
3) Ferland Mendy
Potential transfer fee: €45M
Linked with: Real Madrid, Napoli, Manchester United
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A budding French left-back named Mendy who was reared at Le Havre and made a splash in Ligue 1 walks into a bar. You get the point, and like Les Bleus brethren Benjamin, Ferland Mendy is the next hot commodity among the nation’s full-backs, and for good reason. The technically gifted 23-year-old was a composed presence for Les Gones this season, and now the continent’s behemoths have taken notice, as has France boss Didier Deschamps. A move to Madrid appears imminent.
2) Houssem Aouar
Potential transfer fee: €50M
Linked with: Liverpool, Barcelona
Aulas is reportedly resistant to selling Aouar this summer, and if the likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Fekir, and Depay all vamoose, expect him to stay put in an effort to retain some form of continuity. It’s easier said than done, and with clubs the ilk of Liverpool snooping around, Aulas may be forced to sell the versatile 20-year-old midfielder competent at playing anywhere on the left or in multiple central midfield roles. The sky’s the limit for arguably Lyon’s most adaptable young player.
1) Tanguy Ndombele
Potential transfer fee: €100M
Linked with: Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Real Madrid
Quote machine Aulas hasn’t exactly been muted when it comes to Les Bleus stud Ndombele. The chairman’s claim that PSG, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Juventus are all interested makes heaps of sense considering the 22-year-old central midfielder’s progression into a physically imposing two-way star. With Frenkie de Jong off to Barcelona, Ndombele is arguably the summer window’s most desired midfielder. A nine-digit sum may be required to pluck the modest game-changer.