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Youth to power: OL leading the way

Youth to power: OL leading the way

Focus
Publish on 01/20 at 02:34 - S. WILLIS

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This season in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, Olympique Lyonnais is the club that gives the most playing time to players from its academy: from Lacazette to Caqueret, via Lopes and Cherki.

Ligue 1 Uber Eats is a league that gives young talent plenty of opportunity, and Olympique Lyonnais' penchant for giving game time to its academy graduates is unmatched in France's top flight.

The Rhône-valley club was rewarded in July 2022 by clinching top spot on the hierarchy of youth academies, according to the latest ranking published by the FFF. Thus, OL's ability to regularly produce top Ligue 1 Uber Eats talent is undeniable.

Eleven academy graduates at OL

According to a new study by the CIES football observatory concerning European first divisions, the playing time granted this season to club-trained players represents 12.4% of the total in Ligue 1 Uber Eats. Players present for at least three years between the seasons of their 15th and 21st birthdays are taken into account here.

And with 11 players, Olympique Lyonnais takes the honours in the ranking for French top-flight clubs. This distinction comes on the heels of Karim Benzema's winning the Ballon d'Or this year, and is further illustrated by the return to the club of 'old heads' last summer: Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso and Rémy Riou.

On the front line

The identity of Les Gones - which means 'the kids' in Lyon dialect - is strengthened in the 2022-23 squad by Anthony Lopes (331 Ligue 1 Uber Eats games at the club), Castello Lukeba, Malo Gusto, Maxence Caqueret, Rayan Cherki and Houssem Aouar.

At OL, Alexandre Lacazette (31) is both the club's top scorer and the player with the most minutes played this season (11 goals in 1160 minutes). Defensive prospect Lukeba has the second-highest playing time in the team (1620 min), ahead of Lopes (fifth), Gusto (seventh) and Caqueret (eighth).

Scorers: Lacazette ahead of the Wahi-Savanier duo

The attacking impact of those trained at the club is also significant at OL, as they account for 15 of the 28 goals scored in Ligue 1 Uber Eats this season, although Lacazette alone accounts for 11 of those.

Another product of the club's academy, Rayan Cherki is the youngest scorer in the league this season and has been successful in creating goals. With an average of one pass leading to a shot every 17 minutes, the Lyon player is top of the list of the five major leagues in 2022-23.

In the ranking of goals by academy graduates in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, we find Montpellier's Elye Wahi and Téji Savanier with seven goals apiece (14th and 15th in the scoring charts), followed by Strasbourg's Kévin Gameiro (six goals). This table is a good example of the strong performance from Montpellier: the Hérault club is in second place in the ranking of playing time for academy-trained players, with five home-grown products in the top ten for minutes played this season.

Chaïbi on fire

The podium is completed by reigning Ligue 2 BKT champions Toulouse FC. The promoted club continues to look to youngster Anthony Rouault (21), who has the second-highest playing time among the Téfécé's outfield players. The Toulousains also have in their ranks one of the revelations of the first part of the season: Farès Chaïbi.

At 20 years of age, Chaïbi stands out and confirms the quality of French youth development - not to mention the excellence of vintage 2022-23. His case is not isolated in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, as he is joined by Eliesse Ben Seghir (ASM, 17), Désiré Doué (SRFC, 17), Wilson Odobert (ESTAC, 18) and Théo Le Bris (FCL, 20). All of them will doubtless light up the 2022-23 season.

Ben Seghir making waves

Like Rennes' Doué - the youngest scorer of the season in Ligue 1 Uber Eats - Monegasque Ben Seghir is a good example of the special place young talent has in French football. As part of the second-best attack in the league (42 goals), Ben Seghir managed to find a place alongside established internationals Wissam Ben Yedder and Breel Embolo. Ben Seghir scored a decisive brace in Auxerre on debut in Round 16, becoming the youngest player to do so in the last 75 years - and the first to do so before the age of 18! In the wake of this, he was included in the ASM XI for the next three matches.

"Technical quality? Strong. Movement? Strong. Finishing? Strong. We can still work on the physical side of things, but he's got time," said Breel Embolo of his precocious team-mate.

Ben Seghir's early integration into the first team has been made possible by the strategy in place in the principality, where the style of play adopted by the senior team is applied to all the youth categories. And as far as young guns are concerned, AS Monaco is sufficiently experienced to hope that one day he will follow in the footsteps of forebears Thierry Henry and Kylian Mbappé - who remains the youngest scorer in the principality club's history.

Share of playing time for club-trained players in Ligue 1 Uber Eats:
52.1%: Olympique Lyonnais
39.6%: Montpellier HSC
29.4%: Toulouse FC
18.1%: FC Lorient
17.1%: AC Ajaccio
16.1%: Stade Rennais FC
11.3%: RC Strasbourg Alsace
8.7%: Stade Brestois 29
8.6%: AS Monaco
7.7%: FC Nantes and LOSC
7.1%: Clermont Foot
6.5%: AJ Auxerre
6.3%: RC Lens
5.4%: Angers SCO
4.5%: Paris Saint-Germain
1.7%: Stade de Reims
0.3%: ESTAC Troyes
0.1%: OGC Nice
0%: Olympique de Marseille

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