Negotiations over Ruben Dias have reached a point of no return.
Lyon have been stalking him for awhile, and it’s safe to say that everyone at the club is obsessed with him. Unlike Yerry Mina, who had garnered split opinions with Lyon’s recruiting cell, approval for Dias has been unanimous.
Aulas likes him, Genesio likes him, Florian Maurice likes him (he has a picture of Dias in his wallet), the fans like him, even the cafeteria lady likes him. So what’s the hold up?
His release clause.
Dias has a €45m release clause in his contract, so although Lyon submitted a bid of €30m, Benfica didn’t even open the letter. They just sent it right back.
Yesterday, Benfica said that they didn’t want to discuss any transfers until after they play PAOK in their final Champions League qualifiers. And then today, their vice president said that Benfica wouldn’t sell any players this summer.
Lyon now have two paths. They can wait to see how Benfica’s remaining matches play out, at which point Lyon can potentially lower the cost. There has even been talk that they would offer Benfica a player as part of the deal. However, that means they will need to wait until 8/29 – just two days before the window closes.
The other option is to pay the €45m release clause and be done with it. Lyon have earned €60m this summer alone, and that could potentially go to €80m if Maxwell Cornet is sold.
The club does have a history of making terrible purchases, and there is the fear that this could be another expensive flop. But in this situation, the rewards outweigh the risks. Lyon can’t expect to accomplish anything with their current defense, and all other tracks they’ve been linked with are at best rotation players.
There are a few other possibilities, the latest of whom is Domagoj Vida. Lyon submitted a bid of €12m, Besiktas want €15m, blah blah blah. But even if Lyon do sign him, he’s still not enough.
By bringing in Dias, it’s a sign of the club’s ambition. Lyon’s biggest purchase so far has been Lisando Lopez for €24m. For Dias, it would almost be double. His €45m price would not only make him the 11th most expensive player signed by a French club (the first 10 are all PSG and Monaco), but he would be among the top ten most expensive defensive signings in the world, ever.
Those against this transfer will tell you that it’s crazy to spend that much on a 21 year old who’s had a single season under his belt, with no European or World Cup experience. No one knows if he’s a one hit wonder or the real deal. And given the bad luck that Lyon have had in the past , even the most optimistic person should be wary.
But…what if this transfer is the one that pushes Lyon into the next stage of their evolution? Aulas talks big about his ambitions but still acts small. And while buying low and selling high is a strategy that has never let Lyon down, at one point, the club needs to make the leap. A purchase like this elevates Lyon among their competitors and signals to potential investors and sponsors that here’s a club that wants to fight.
If the board really needs extra motivation, the fact is if Dias does well at Lyon, he can potentially be sold at twice the price in two or three years. And that is a language that Aulas understands.