Future uncertain for Lyon pearl Cherki, who dreams of joining Real Madrid
Cherki, one of the promising young stars in The Guardian's Next Generation 2020 list, has attracted attention from Man United, Liverpool and Nice.
It is looking increasingly like Rayan Cherki's future could lie away from Olympique Lyon. According to reports in L'Équipe, the promising 18-year-old is deliberating whether to stay on with the Ligue 1 side where he has been getting few opportunities under coach Peter Bosz. He didn't play a single minute of Sunday's 0-1 win away at Troyes.
Being left out of the Troyes game must have been a knock to Cherki's confidence - he struggled to understand how he was left on the bench when Lyon have three forwards away at the Africa Cup of Nations (Islam Slimani, Karl Toko-Ekambi and Tino Kadewere). It was a strange decision by Bosz to exclude him after the way he played in the previous game against PSG on 8 January. Cherki replaced Lucas Paquetá on 70 minutes when Lyon were a goal down and transformed the game, within five minutes the team were back level. The teenager has been rigourously following the advice of Lyon's medical staff who have recommended that his builds up his muscle mass to help him cope better with the physicality of the French top flight. Cherki featured in The Guardian's Next Generation list of 2020 - a selection of the most promising players around the world born in 2003.
He has a year and a half to run on his contract but Cherki is already thinking about whether it would be better for him to try his luck away from Lyon. Several top European clubs, including Manchester United and Liverpool have enquired about his situation - among them, Nice although the teenager has not given up all hope of making it at his boyhood club. But if his situation doesn't change between now and the end of the season, it's likely that Cherki, an international at Under-21 with France will leave Lyon in the next transfer window.
Cherki has never hidden his desire to play in Spain - when he was still only 16, he told Lyon's in-house TV channel, "My dream is to play for Real Madrid".