It’s been an emotional 24 hours for OL fans.
First, L’Equipe reported that the signing of Ruben Dias was imminent. Everyone started making posters for his arrival at the airport. The Groupama cafeteria placed an online order for salted fish. I personally downloaded a Portuguese language app so I would be ready to comment on his Instagram.
Lyon fans were overjoyed. Finally, the defender we all deserved.
Then, my friend Bilel posted this tweet:
Basically, L’Equipe was just kidding about Dias. It was actually Jason Denayer whose signing was imminent. He’s at Lyon completing his medical and is expected to be announced tomorrow. His transfer fee hasn’t been released yet, but if it’s anything more than €5m, I will…tweet even more angrily.
If you’re asking who this guy is, well…so are all other Lyon fans. During this transfer window, the club has been seriously linked with a dozen defenders, starting from Yerry Mina, Victor Lindelof, Dede, Rodrigo Caio, Kostas Manolas, Domagoj Vida, etc, etc, etc.
Nowhere on that list was Denayer. He came so quickly out of nowhere that the rest of us are suffering whiplash.
The reaction of fans hasn’t been very positive. It’s not that people are upset that the signing is Denayer (actually they are), but that it was announced during Aulas’s post match interview after an embarrassing defeat to Reims. He pronounced the signing as some sort of consolation prize: “Yeah, we lost, but guess what, we’re signing a defender tomorrow! You haven’t heard about him, but trust me, he’s great!!!”
It’s a symptom of how Lyon has handed this entire transfer window. Aulas has been dangling Mina and Dias in front of fans and blithely announcing that Lyon will sign a World Cup player. Now, it’s fine to sign a player like Denayer, who’s not intended to be a starter. But to say that the club’s working hard to sign a €45m player, and then then turning around and presenting a guy no one’s heard of, and worse still, acting like this is the player they always wanted…that’s unfair to the fans, and it’s not what we deserve. Just say, “Hey losers, we aren’t going to spend any money this summer because we still have a lot of debt.” We’d be mad, but eventually we’d accept it.
I don’t want to go into why the Dias transfer broke down (Aulas doesn’t want to pay his release clause, the cheapo), but his claim that the process was getting dragged out too long – again, who’s fault is that? – was ridiculous. Fans have had enough.
L’Equipe added to the confusion further by then reporting that the Dias dossier was pretty much closed as no deal was found. Ten minutes later, they claimed that Benfica wanted to wait until end of August to resume discussions.
Conclusion: no one has any clue about what’s going on. Dias might have signed for the LA Lakers for all L’Equipe knows.
So what do we know about Denayer? He’s a 23 year old Belgian player who went through Anderlecht’s and then Manchester City’s youth academy. He eventually signed a contract with Man City, but he spent the next several years out on loan to Celtic, Galatasary, and Sunderland.
I don’t much more about him except that he wasn’t good enough for Man City’s bench, nor was he good enough for Galatasary to purchase on a permanent deal. There could be many reasons behind that, and I confess that I just haven’t had time to conduct an extensive background check on Denayer.
I don’t want to judge a player I haven’t seen, and he might be great. But I do know that his signing CANNOT be enough. He’s clearly meant to be a rotation player. With Jeremy Morel due to either leave or retire, he cannot be Marcelo’s main partner.
L’Equipe did announce that it’s still possible Lyon will sign another defender, which may or may not be Dias, but Bilel has broken my heart too many times, so I’m going to ignore his texts and wait until the end of August before giving him another chance.