“Go and stay where people value you. It’s that enigmatic part Instagram post by Lucas Paqueta, to formalize his departure from OL, which caught the attention of Lyon supporters on Monday evening. If it was almost surprising to see a (now) indisputable holder of one of the five best selections in the world staying almost two years in the Rhône, seeing him join West Ham (7th in the last Premier League) is just as much. And this especially three months before a World Cup in Qatar, which will further “promote” the talented 25-year-old attacking midfielder.
If his transfer with bonus makes him virtually the second biggest sale in the history of OL behind Tanguy Ndombele (61.630 million euros), this amounts to “only” 42.95 M€ without them, which is almost the compensation of his compatriot and friend Bruno Guimaraes (42.1 M€ + 8 M€ bonus), when he left for Newcastle last January.
Aulas assures that he “absolutely wanted to leave”, yeah…
As for Guimaraes eight months earlier, Jean-Michel Aulas also assured, Sunday evening on Canal +, that the player “absolutely wanted to leave”. Except that he has never said so in the press, contrary to his attachment to the club which he has hammered since his arrival in Ligue 1. If he is generally less visible since the chained departures of sports director Juninho and therefore of Bruno G., the two people he was closest to in Lyon, Lucas Paqueta remains the one through whom the spark has often come in recent months.
As a symbol, OL’s last performance, without their Brazilian playmaker, was particularly insipid on Sunday in Reims (1-1). Among the 80 games (for 21 goals) played by Lucas Paqueta with Rudi Garcia then Peter Bosz, there will inevitably remain his start to the 2021-2022 season (ah, this clinical conclusion of a brilliant collective movement against Clermont), two outstanding goals against PSG or Porto, as well as brilliant shots that have completely conquered both corners, such as its little bridge on the former Niçois Evann Guessand, or his surreal entry into play against AS Monaco.
A juicy added value for the Guimaraes-Paqueta duo
In October 2021, he had indeed chained two high-level matches in less than 48 hours, with 9,000 kilometers (and 10 hours) of travel, plus six hours of time difference, to shine with the Seleçao as with Lyon. Parc OL has rarely been as euphoric as in this seemingly innocuous Ligue 1 match, which turned into a singing contest in honor of Lucas Paqueta, whose dribbling and ball protection had few equivalents in France for two years.
But quickly settling Juninho’s legacy, with a new juicy capital gain as for Bruno Guimaraes, two years after a €20 million purchase from AC Milan, almost seems to be a strategy for the Lyon transfer window in 2022. Moreover, the leaders of OL (Aulas-Ponsot-Cheyrou) are the notable absentees from the farewell message (yet rich in thanks), from Lucas Paqueta.
As for Memphis a year earlier, no recruits to replace him
As a year ago, when Lyon felt that it did not need to find a real replacement for Memphis Depay to return to the Champions League, the club indicated, Monday evening in its press release, to be able to count in the middle “on a healthy emulation between Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Romain Faivre and Rayan Cherki”.
Do you see in this list the “half-warrior, half-Michelangelo” profile, as Mauricio Barbieri described his former Flamengo prodigy to us? In any case, if Bruno Cheyrou had allowed himself to chamber the transfer window of OM, on July 1 after the departure of Jorge Sampaoli, this one turns out (again) more ambitious than that of OL, two months later. Because despite the hopes raised by the arrival of John Textor, the balance will still be largely profitable this summer (at least +37 M€).