When the end of season awards are handed out in Ligue 1, Monaco midfielder Kylian Mbappe is sure to lift the gong for outstanding young player. Coming up behind him, though, is Lyon midfielder Lucas Tousart, who is proving himself to be the latest gem to be brought through the Rhone side.
A tigerish midfielder, Tousart, who will turn 20 on April 29, scored his first Ligue 1 goal at the weekend against the Ligue 1 leaders.
But while it was not enough to win his side any points, the youngster produced another excellent performance to confirm his status as a star for the future.
In the aftermath of OL’s dramatic victory over Besiktas on penalties in the Europa League last Thursday, he lined up against France’s outstanding side so far this season and turned in a performance of great maturity, going close to levelling the game with a deft header in the closing stages.
It was little surprise, though, as Tousart has excelled whenever called upon since featuring against Dinamo Zagreb in a 3-0 Champions League victory.
That was the only time he played in the competition, but he has since profited from Bruno Genesio’s rotation of the squad to become a regular in the Europa League.
Indeed, so taken have Lyon fans been by their new starlet, they have called for him to replace emblematic captain Maxime Gonalons, while some have even compared him to N’Golo Kante due to the energy he possesses.
Just as Kante has expanded his repertoire at Chelsea this season, Tousart has become increasingly comfortable in the Lyon side while building a complete game.
No longer is he simply an energetic ball winner; he is increasingly looking a fine all-rounder and his goal against Monaco highlighted not only his improved ability to get forward and support his attackers, but also his surprising abilities in the air.
“He is a modest, hard-working young man who knows what he wants. His profile matches the modern holding midfielder: skilful and physically strong. He is a great team player who embodies the values we want to pass on at this club, namely humility and enthusiasm,” Lyon Under-19 boss Joel Frechet explained.
Tousart came through the youth ranks at Valenciennes, where he would make his senior debut in France’s second tier aged just 16.
In the summer of 2015, he was sold to Lyon for a fee in the region of €2.5 million, but struggled initially to impress first-team coach Hubert Fournier as he was dogged by injury problems.
“Dropping down to anonymity was a little weird after being a starter at Valenciennes,” the player admitted to Olympique et Lyonnais.
It took the Under-19 European Championships in the summer of 2016 to revitalise the youngster. He captained a France team that included the likes of Mbappe and Jean-Kevin Augustin to a stunning victory and even scored in the 4-0 final demolition of Italy.
“Lucas is a boy who needs to feel an atmosphere of confidence about him,” France U19 boss Ludovic Batelli said.
He has received that from Genesio and is now flourishing, with Manchester United having been linked with a move for him – and little wonder given he fits the profile of player missing at Old Trafford.
His deal with Lyon is up at the end of the 2018-19 season, and his agent admits he has his eyes open.
“Lucas is a thoughtful boy. There’s no question of money or guaranteed playing time,” Samir Fodil told Le Progres. “Even if his priority is to continue with Lyon, we’ll stay alert to other propositions.”
Meanwhile, leading France U20 at the forthcoming World Cup is another potential target, although should Lyon reach the Europa League final, the dates will clash, causing the youngster to miss out.Should he continue his stellar rise, though, there is every chance that in 12 months he will be with the senior squad going to Russia.