PARIS (AP) — When one of the best participant in Lyon’s historical past phoned AC Milan’s biggest defender, they talked enterprise.
Juninho persuaded Paolo Maldini, who performed 900 video games for Milan and is now the membership’s technical director, to promote midfielder Lucas Paqueta to Lyon for 20 million euros ($24.5 million) in September.
It has proved the signing of the French season, with Paqueta the driving power in a Lyon facet three factors clear on the high and heading into Saturday’s journey to Rennes unbeaten in 15 video games.
Whereas the slick attacking trio of Memphis Depay, Karl Toko Ekambi and Tino Kadewere have shared the objectives, Paqueta’s function in a three-man midfield has supplied lightning-fast breaks ahead and a very good display screen in entrance of protection.
Take Wednesday’s 3-2 dwelling win in opposition to Lens, the place Paqueta’s astute move was performed so rapidly it caught Lens out and Depay learn it completely to open the scoring. It was additionally Paqueta’s first-time by means of ball that led to Maxwell Cornet incomes a penalty to make it 3-0.
”He’s a formidable expertise, however much more than his expertise and talent to play with one contact going ahead, he works exhausting for the staff,” Lyon coach Rudi Garcia stated. ”All of the credit score goes to Juninho.”
Juninho is now Lyon’s sporting director. He scored 100 objectives for the membership from midfield, together with some spectacular free kicks from 40 meters, and was instrumental in seven straight championships from 2002-07 – a run of titles big-spending PSG has by no means achieved.
Paqueta is a special, extra direct model of midfielder in comparison with how the extra skillful Juninho operated. He’s extra about excessive stamina and powerful tackling, a box-to-box runner who honed his assured method again dwelling in Brazil.
Italian powerhouse Milan quickly seen, and paid Rio-based staff Flamengo 35 million euros ($43 million) for Paqueta two years in the past, when he was 21.
His dynamic, galloping operating model and athletic physique led observers to make early comparisons with Kaka – a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002 who additionally gained the Golden Ball in 2007 after Milan’s Champions League triumph. He netted 29 objectives for his nation in 92 video games.
However Paqueta, who now counts 13 worldwide caps, fell properly in need of these lofty expectations.
Having netted 12 objectives in his last season with Flamengo, he scored as soon as in 44 video games for the seven-time European Champion and felt unsettled.
”After I arrived (sporting director) Leonardo was there and so was (coach) Gennaro Gattuso, however 5 months later they had been each gone,” Paqueta instructed broadcaster Canal Plus. ”I felt a bit alone.”
Milan is now high of Serie A, and its followers have most likely already forgotten Paqueta. However Lyon’s followers are relying on him main the membership to its first league title since Juninho’s final 14 years in the past.
”It is a troublesome league however I do know we have now the power to win,” he stated. ”I hope we will combat till the top.”
That may properly be potential.
For the circumstances couldn’t be higher to topple defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which is in second place however has misplaced 4 video games already this season and lately fired its coach.
Mauricio Pochettino’s first sport in cost after changing Thomas Tuchel resulted in a disappointing 1-1 draw at lowly Saint-Etienne on Wednesday. PSG is at dwelling to mid-table Brest on Saturday, when star ahead Neymar may return from an ankle harm.
Whereas PSG is concerned within the Champions League, Lyon didn’t qualify for European competitors and so Garcia may give full precedence to a home push with out worrying about rotating key gamers.
Not like PSG, Garcia’s facet has not been badly hit by accidents, both.
Additionally, Lyon nonetheless has to face PSG at dwelling having gained 1-0 away – a match through which Paqueta starred.
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