It is understood, in Europe, that the great players desire to play in the great leagues. This allows players to showcase their talents to a larger audience and enables them to reap the benefits of larger financial contracts and endorsements. Manchester United? Sure. Barcelona and Real Madrid? Obviously. Inter or Juve? Absolutely. Lyon? Er. Maybe for a while, but then…
Which is what makes Lyon’s staying power all the more impressive. They churn out talent – but it rarely sticks around. Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Mahamadou Diarra, Gregory Coupet, Tiago, Eric Abidal, John Carew, Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa. They’ve all been there and had a hand in at least one of the five consecutive Ligue 1 titles Lyon boasts. And, inevitably, they’ve all left. Who wants to stick around when Chelsea, Real and Juve come calling?
It is understood that others will soon leave as well. Hugo Lloris is one of the top rated goalkeepers in Europe. Lisandro Lopez may be the next Diego Milito, looked over by the big clubs until late in his career. And the list of suitors for Aly Cissokho is too long to mention.
But until they leave, there is some unfinished business for the club. For all its domestic success, Lyon have had very little to cheer about in the Champions League. That’s all changed this year under manager Claude Puel. Down only 1-0 to Bayern after the away leg, Lyon has never had a better chance to get to the final of Europe’s biggest football stage. Wait, I thought you had to leave Lyon to go deep in the Champions League. Just ask Essien, Malouda or Benzema. Oh right, their teams have already been eliminated.