Lyon land Traoré
Olympique Lyonnais have presented new striker Bertrand Traoré, signed on a five-year deal from EPL champions Chelsea. The Burkina Faso international thus makes his return to France after coming through at AJ Auxerre.
Following the signing of a five-year, €10m deal on Tuesday, Bertrand Traoré, 21, fronted the press with Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas and made no secret of his delight at having signed on for the long haul with the seven-time French champions.
'The perfect choice'
"Lyon was the perfect choice," said Burkinabé Traoré, who spent last season on loan at Eredivisie giants Ajax, with whom he reached the final of the Europa League, beating OL in the semis along the way. "My brother Alain and my friend Bakary Koné gave me some advice and they spoke about France. And when you see the beautiful stadium that OL have, you want just one thing: to play there."
Traoré was spotted by AJ Auxerre scouts when playing for ASF Bob-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso and made the move to the French club's youth academy in 2009. A full international from the age of 15, the attacking prodigy caught the eye of Chelsea and hopped the Channel only to be loaned out to Eredivisie sides Vitesse Arnhem (51 appearances, 20 goals) and Ajax (39 appearances, 13 goals).
Enter Lyon. Looking for a place to put down roots and pursue his footballing development, Traoré was thrilled by the interest of the ambitious side from central France, who earned a place in the 2017-18 Europa League group stage after finishing fourth in Ligue 1 Conforama last season.
"I will find some stability here. At my age, the most important thing is to play, no matter what role the coach asks me to fulfill. I can play anywhere across the front line," explained Traoré, who had been on Lyon's recruitment radar even before his scoring a double against them in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final. "Lyon had been following me for a while, but I ended up being loaned out to Ajax. They made contact in January and I checked the team out."
The man for the job
With the club's star striker Alexandre Lacazette having made clear his intention to leave over the summer, playmaker Mathieu Valbuena having moved to Turkish side Fenerbahçe and transfer speculation looming over the likes of Rachid Ghezzal, Traoré's adaptable profile - as well as his mix of experience and youth - makes him an extremely savvy signing.
"His versatility is very interesting for us," declared OL coach Bruno Genesio, who will be looking to reconstruct his side after the high-profile departure of Corentin Tolisso for Bayern Munich and a rumoured move to Italy for homegrown captain Maxime Gonalons. "He can play on either flank but also in the middle, in the spaces."
Traoré's deal sees him linked to the club through to June 2022, and sellers Chelsea stand to collect 15% of whatever profit Lyon make if and when they opt to sell the €10m forward.