Olympique Lyonnais fans woke up to the news that the club had signed Tottenham academy grad Reo Griffiths to a four year professional contract.
There were a number of clubs interested, such as Barca, PSG, and Real Madrid, but OL won the race for his signature. The cost of transfer has not been released.
Ok, fine. Lyon found another hotshot player. Great.
I wish I could muster more excitement except on the heels of this transfer came another bombshell: that Newcastle had reached out to Lyon about Myziane Maolida. We already knew Real Betis was interested in him, but Newcastle are a midtable EPL team and an attractive option. A few weeks ago, I’d have said this was unlikely, but Griffiths’s transfer does open the door. Maolida is 19 years old and needs more playing time than he’s going to get if he stays at OL.
Maybe this isn’t anything to get sad over. It’s possible that Maolida, despite his fantastic Euro19 tournament, really isn’t that great. Or that he isn’t as special as his teammate, Amine Gouriri. After all, for all the star-studded graduates of OL’s academy, there’s many more that were average. Good enough to play professionally, just not at Lyon.
Or maybe he is really good, and OL are losing a gem. It’s happened before – Willem Geubbels left a few weeks ago for Monaco because he was unhappy at the limited time he was getting at OL. A few years prior, Lyon also lost Anthony Martial (again to Monaco, dammit).
And now, there is Gouriri and Maolida, who along with Griffiths, will fight to join a senior team that is already loaded with attacking talent. I don’t really know what the answer is, because if a prospect like Griffiths is available, of course OL should take him. But how do you give time to everyone while still fielding a competitive team?
One thing I do know – if anyone is going to solve this problem, it’s not going to be Bruno Genesio.
About Reo Griffiths:
Griffiths is a highly rated player who netted almost 30 goals last season for England’s U18s. He’s got enough attacking talent to play on either side, but he’s best in the center. He’s noted for his quickness and agility despite his size (he’s 6 feet tall)
Tottenham did not include him as part of their pre-season tour and with first team chances looking doubtful, Griffiths looked elsewhere for opportunities. It seems to be a growing trend in English football with more of their youngsters moving abroad.
Obligatory highlight video (listen on mute because music is awful):
As per the terms of his signing, Griffiths will play in Lyon’s reserve, and depending on his performance, he may have a chance to be called up to the senior team. While Lyon are renowned for their own academy players, the club will periodically also invest in youth players from other teams (such as Miralem Pjanic and Lucas Tousart). It will be interesting to see where he is six months from now.
No word yet on how much he cost. He was on scholar training at Tottenham, which is not the same as a professional contract. Our understanding is that Griffiths himself canceled his training contract and was a free agent when he signed with OL. Any fee Tottenham will receive will be a small amount to cover the compensation for his training.
Fun fact: He is the first male English player at OL.