Shortly before the start of the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season, Olympique Lyon looked like bonafide title contenders. Despite being a few echelons below PSG, the Lyonnais side appeared as the lone team capable of putting up a fight with Les Parisiens for the league title.
Fast forward a few months, and there’s no other way to label Lyon’s current season but “disappointing”. The Ligue 1 giants, who endured years of dominance in the top-flight during the beginning of the decade, have now been left as an afterthought in a league that’s once again dominated by the Paris-based club. And as if things couldn’t get any tougher, they will have to endure the rest of the season without their star forward, Memphis Depay.
The former PSV and Manchester United winger suffered a gruesome knee injury in mid-December, and he is expected to miss the 2020 European Championships as a result. Lyon have been looking to fill his void and, with the Ligue 1 set to return next week, they are moving fast to find a replacement. One of the alternatives that has been linked with a Lyon move has been Villarreal’s forward Karl-Toko Ekambi.
Why Ekambi does not fit at Lyon right now
However, make no mistake. If Lyon sign Ekambi, they wouldn’t be filling the void left by Depay. They would simply be adding another forward in a role where they already have Moussa Dembele doing an excellent job. Ekambi has enough pace to play on the wing, but he doesn’t feel comfortable on a wider role. He is a striker, period. That’s the role he had when he was thriving at Angers for two seasons before departing to LaLiga.
Sure, Ekambi is not having a strong season and he would certainly welcome a return to France. But he doesn’t fit at Lyon. Even though Lyonnais need as much depth as they can get upfront, adding Ekambi would be a mistake. Especially if they need to pay a reported €20 million figure to get the deal done.
Lyon must find a winger that’s willing to replace Depay. They already lost Nabil Fekir during the season. Essentially, this means they have lost their two top players from last season in less than six months. And while they can’t mount a title challenge right now, they are still very much in play for a 2020-21 UEFA Europa League berth. They sit just three points behind the fourth-placed team, Nantes, with 18 matches left on the schedule.
Replacing Depay will be a tough task. But Lyon can’t make mistakes here. They are already struggling this season. Failing to replace their best player would be the nail on the coffin on a 2019-20 to forget for the fanbase.
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