Olympique Lyonnais thrashed Everton quite handily last season during the group stages of the Europa League on their way to finishing third in Ligue 1 in France, and shining the spotlight squarely on a number of talented players on their roster, including defender Mouctar Diakhaby, Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir.
Lyon will play in the Champions League qualifiers this coming season, but some of their players are being linked with lucrative moves to other teams involved in the competition with Liverpool’s high profile pursuit of Fekir being an example.
TalkSport are reporting (via France Football) that now Diakhaby is close to joining Valencia in La Liga despite the Blues offering a better deal in terms of transfer fees and wages than the Spanish club’s £13.25million offer, because once again Los Che are in the Champions League while the Blues are paying the price for a season of futility by playing domestic football in 2018-19.
Diakhaby was born in France but is also eligible to play for Guinea through his parents. The 21-year-old centre half has nine French youth international caps with one goal, having played 55 games for the Lyon senior side over the last two seasons, with seven goals and two assists.
The youngster is 6’2” and strong in the air but quite mobile and very comfortable with the ball on his feet. His short range passing is a strength, but still needs to develop his vision for longer passes out of the back.
The Blues are desperate to land a central defender (or two) with some Premier League pedigree. Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams are on their way out and cannot be relied upon to start regularly. Michael Keane endured an awful season and really needs a mobile, ball-playing partner next to him. Mason Holgate remains unproven at the highest level while Morgan Feeney has no experience at all there either. The last name from last year’s squad, Ramiro Funes Mori, was shipped out last week.
Marcel Brands and Marco Silva have got to be a little antsy now with the number of defenders the Blues have been linked with but have failed to sign. The new season starts in six weeks and for now the starting pair is Jagielka and Keane, which as we saw in the latter half of last season is simply not good enough to challenge for a top six spot.
Is it time to be very worried? Not yet, but certainly a bit uncomfortable.