Le50 2017 – Lucas Tousart
The Olympique Lyonnais Under-19 coach Joël Fréchet is probably as good a person as any to sum up the merits of Les Gones’ number 29, Lucas Tousart:
“He is a modest, hard-working young man who knows what he wants. His profile matches the modern holding midfielder: skillful 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.”
Next season should provide Tousart with the platform to shine as Lyon enter the 2017/18 campaign with a new looking midfield. Corentin Tolisso has left for Bayern Munich whilst Maxime Gonalons will be sampling life in Serie A with Roma.
There are many who are already suggesting that replacing Gonalons with Tousart would be nothing short of an upgrade. Indeed the 20-year old has been likened to Didier Deschamps and N’golo Kante, albeit taller than both at 6’1”.
Tousart isn’t just a simple “water carrier”. Logically, his physical attributes help him from an aerial point of view and he complements his natural gifts with his ability to read the game and make telling interceptions. Where observers see him as an upgrade on Maxime Gonalons is his passing, with Tousart playing more incisive balls compared with the more conservative approach adopted by the Olympique Lyonnais captain.
Tousart, unlike other Lyon youngsters, first made the grade at Valenciennes, making his debut for them against Tours in January 2015. He was snapped up by OL in a €2.5million deal that summer but found the initial bedding-in period somewhat difficult having been placed in the reserves after already tasting first-team football with his former team.
Whilst that period of his club life was by his own admission difficult Tousart found solace in the international set-up, captaining the French Under-19 team to the European Championship title. The midfielder found the net in the final against Italy, whom his side swatted away 4-0.
If anything that set the midfielder up for the 2016/17 season, stepping in ably when Maxime Gonalons was suspended early in the campaign and ended up racking up a total of 33 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals and adding two assists.
Whilst Tousart’s role is not a glamour one his importance is no less diminished and not undervalued either. Bruno Génésio highlighted Tousart’s positioning, tactical intelligence and the sense of balance that he brings when possession is surrendered. Given Lyon’s attacking ethos, Tousart’s defensive nous, coupled with his ability to transition defence into attack with his sharp passing, is vital in enabling his team to commit to their principles whilst ensuring that there’s cover should the ball be turned over.
Moreover for all the footballing qualities that he undoubtedly possesses what could turn Tousart into a highly-prized commodity is that most intangible of characteristics: leadership. The midfielder exudes a natural authority rooted in the values that Joël Fréchet described.
Don’t expect Tousart to do the glamorous, eye-catching tricks but his value is instantly recognizable to his peers and coaching staff.
If Tousart continues down this trajectory he will be Lyon’s metronome, quietly orchestrating play and covering for his teammates and if the club keep a hold of him (the likes of Manchester United are already sniffing around), they will have their captain for years to come.