Houssem Aouar, Lyon's new gem
Olympique Lyonnais have been the benchmark for youth development in French football in recent seasons, and in Houssem Aouar, the seven-time Ligue 1 champions look to have unearthed yet another future superstar.
Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette, Samuel Umtiti, Hatem ben Arfa, Maxime Gonalons…the list goes on, and includes current OL captain Nabil Fekir, who was the last major name to emerge from the club's youth ranks until Aouar, just 19, became a first-team star-in-the-making
Not that the teenager had any doubts about taking the step up.
"I felt ready to play at this level. Maybe it's just my personality, but I didn't get stressed about it, I just played my game," he told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "I feel pretty good in midfield, that's my true position, it's where I've played since I was a boy. That's where I enjoy playing most, but I'm happy to play wherever."
WATCH: Aouar scores his maiden first-team goal
The flair and ease on the ball he has shown in just a handful of top-flight appearances have reportedly already alerted Barcelona to his talents, leading OL president Jean-Michel Aulas to issue an unequivocal "hands off" warning to the Spanish giants recently.
Aouar's introduction into the team has been smoothed by another local boy, coach Bruno Genesio, who is fully aware of the qualities of his young charge.
"His technique and intelligence bring a lot to the team," said the Lyon boss. "He's shown he can adapt to any position we put him in, that's impressive. But I'm not surprised because Houssem's been training with us for the last two years and he's shown his quality in that time – now he's showing it at the top level."
A sign of the esteem in which the seven-time Ligue 1 Conforama champions hold the teenager, who does not turn 20 until next June, is they handed him the iconic number 8 shirt last summer.
Previously worn by the likes of Juninho Pernambucano, a central player in Lyon's seven successive top-flight titles, and Corentin Tolisso, currently performing brilliantly for Bayern Munich following his summer move there, it is quite an accolade, and one that brings a burden of expectation.
"It's a bit of legendary number at this club. I'm proud to wear it and will try to do it justice," said the France Under-21 international.
"This is just the beginning for him," added Genesio. "He needs to keep working hard and he'll keep making giant strides."