Lyon’s Breakout Wonderkid
Since making his professional debut last season when he entered the field in the dying embers of Lyon’s 4-1 win over AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League, Houssem Aouar’s steadily gone about establishing himself as an integral member of Les Gones’ first team.
In the second leg of that tie vs. Alkmaar, he quickly registered his first goal for the club he joined as an 11-year-old, as he went onto finish the 2016/2017 crusade by gaining a further three Ligue 1 appearances.
Heading into the 2017/2018 campaign, however, it was clear the club and manager, Bruno Genesio felt he was ready to make the step up to become a crucial component of the squad. With the losses of Corentin Tolisso and Maxime Gonalons to Bayern Munich and AS Roma respectively, this presented him with a golden opportunity to stake his claim.
Handed the number eight jersey in the summer, that’s previously been worn by one of his idols in Juninho Pernambucano, plus also Tolisso, at Lyon, he’s duly taken the chances Genesio has afforded him, for the gifted 19-year-old’s enjoyed a superb breakout season so far at the Groupama Stadium. Featuring 27 times in Ligue 1 action, plus eight times in the Europa League and on four occasions in the Coupe de France, Aouar has been an indispensable asset to OL.
Whether playing as an attacking geared central midfielder, out wide or even in a deeper midfield role, his versatility has been vital too, with him effectively adapting his skillset to competently undertake his responsibilities. “I’ve always played in the middle, so the role of hard-working midfielder is the one that I like the most,” he explained. “But I like the left wing, too. It allows me to work and to develop other skills. I’ll adapt to anything.
“It doesn’t matter where I play, I know it’s my chance and I’ll play anywhere to take it!”
While he’s emphatically demonstrated his clever movement, reading of the play, defensive discipline and determination, his work with the ball at his feet has unquestionably been the highlight. The owner of a masterful technical ability, the man who also grew up idolizing fellow Algerian descendant, Zinedine Zidane, can create openings for himself or a teammate in an instant.
His wizardry on the dribble is the most eye-catching element of his armory, where he combines an awesome first touch, super close ball control, amazing feints, shimmies, ball control and trickery to get the better of his opponents. Moreover, the fact he can remain so balanced and composed in confined, high-pressure instances or when running at high speed ensures he’s a huge weapon in slower possession passages or on the counter.
His imaginative passing supplements the aforementioned beautifully too, where he’s equally adept at linking play intricately, playing line breaking passes, hitting sublime through balls in behind or recycling possession.
Indeed, his six goals, five assists, 2.7 successful dribbles per game, one key pass pg and 4.5 defensive actions pg have only added to his worth. It’s also been positive to see him find the back of the net or supply assists in the big matches, doing so against the likes of Everton, fierce rivals Saint Etienne, OGC Nice and Marseille.
Already labeled the French Andres Iniesta and having received praise from Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, it’s refreshing to see how humble and hardworking he still is, something that’s a testament to his mental fortitude. “At training, I had to double my efforts,” he explained. “I know that if I was going to play professionally, to take the place of one of my team-mates, I would have to be two or even three times better than them. That’s made the difference.”
Genesio’s words on his young charge only accentuate what a tremendous prospect he is. “His technique and intelligence bring a lot to the team,” said the Lyon tactician.
“He’s shown he can adapt to any position we put him in, that’s impressive. But I’m not surprised because Houssem’s been training with us for the last two years and he’s shown his quality in that time – now he’s showing it at the top level. This is just the beginning for him. He needs to keep working hard and he’ll keep making giant strides.”
There’s absolutely no reason to suggest he won’t be able to continue his sensational upward trajectory, he’ll just need to be sure to make smart choices for his career, especially considering the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool are interested in securing his services. In the case of Aouar, he’s not one to get carried away with the hype, recently speaking of his desire to stay put for now, clearly knowing honing his craft within such a familiar environment will be best for his progression.
Mature, grounded and full of quality, the footballing world well and truly appears to be his oyster.
It’s indeed exciting to see up-and-coming midfielder Houssem Aouar continue to show his stellar skills in the field. Place bets for his team Olympique Lyon and other football clubs through our Skype Betting. Check it today!