With the amount of money coming into football ever increasing, it is very difficult to bring a number of youth players into your team and expect success. French side Lyon appear to be the exception to the rule, and after becoming the first team to beat PSG in Ligue 1 this season, they have proved that their academy products are as good as ever.
On Sunday night, Bruno Genesio’s side produced a brilliant all round performance to defeat France’s reigning champions, with a starting XI that included five academy products, and a substitutes bench that included a further four. This is a squad of players, including a number of other players from the youth team, who have taken Lyon to third place in the league, and the Champions League places.
The current crop of Lyon players aren’t the first to be successful after coming through the youth set up. In the past, players such as Karim Benzema, Frederic Kanoute and Ludovic Giuly have begun their career with Les Gones before becoming successful across Europe.
There are certainly players in this current Lyon squad capable of following in their footsteps. Alexandre Lacazette certainly comes with the biggest reputation in the squad, having finished as Ligue 1’s top goalscorer last season, above Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
However the players who have really caught the eye this season are striker Maxwel Cornet and midfielder Jordan Ferri. Cornet gave Lyon the lead on Sunday with his seventh goal of the season, a brilliant strike after cutting inside. Ferri dominated the midfield and was named man of the match, and he has now made nearly 100 appearances at the club, at the age of just 23.
Both Nabil Fekir and Clement Grenier were unavailable on Sunday, with both having also been linked with Arsenal over the past few years. With the technical ability that the pair possess, it is likely that they would be lining up for the French national side this summer if serious injury hadn’t struck.
The main problem for Lyon is holding on to these players, with many wanting to get the opportunity to play consistently in the Champions League, something that Lyon can’t guarantee due to their limited finances. But what is not in doubt is the fact that they will continue to bring through some immensely talented youngsters.