Olympic champion Bruno Guimaraes was outstanding in the Olympique Lyonnais midfield against Paris Saint-Germain in Round 20 and the Brazilian’s form will be crucial to OL’s prospects in the second half of the season.
Guimaraes, 24, signed for OL in late January 2020 on a four-and-a-half year deal from Athletico Paranaense and immediately shone, starring on his Champions League debut against Juventus in an OL victory in February 2020. Classy on the ball and possessed with great vision, Guimaraes was an immediate hit and it was a great shame that the coronavirus pandemic that hit the following month stopped him in his tracks.
"We're not where we should be in the league"
Guimaraes’ display against PSG, providing the assist for the Lucas Paqueta opener in a 1-1 draw, was every bit as good and had the pundits gushing. The player told Amazon Prime: “We can be proud of ourselves as we gave everything. We need to keep playing the way we did tonight. I hope that we will show the same desire in our games to come. When you wear the Lyon shirt, you need to show that desire. We’re not where we should be in the league.”
OL enter Round 21 in the bottom half of the table, in 11th place and 11 points back from the top three. Peter Bosz’s side will need to go on a sustained run of form in order to achieve their target of taking the 2020 Champions League semi-finalists back into the competition.
Should the midfield purr as it did against PSG then Bosz’s team might well be capable of making up the large deficit. The Dutchman commented: “Against PSG we were very compact. For Maxence Caqueret and Bruno that’s great. They weigh on proceedings and they drop into our defensive block. They win the ball back. For players such as them, it puts them in ideal conditions.”
Guimaraes’ form has seen him attract covetous glances from abroad, with Arsenal and Roma persistently linked with a player who played the full 120 minutes for Brazil in their 2-1 extra-time win over Spain in the Olympic final in Yokohama in August. It was a sweet moment for Guimaraes, who had made being allowed to feature in the Olympics a condition of his move to Lyon.
"Normal that clubs are interested in you"
Guimaraes told Globo Esporte this week: “It’s normal that clubs are interested in you when you are an Olympic champion, called up to the full national side and you are plating well. I don’t like to think much about all that and I allow my agents to deal with things.”
Before sporting director Juninho left the club, there had been tentative talks about extending Guimaraes’ contract beyond 2024. Guimaraes explained: “There have been changes in the club hierarchy. There had been brief talks about the contract extension when Juninho was still at the club. When it’s the right time, we’ll talk again. What is urgent is to get OL climbing the standings and get Lyon back where they belong. The club has never won the Europea League and we’re going to battle to win the trophy.”
Bolstered by a motivated, fit and firing Guimaraes, OL will attempt to improve collectively. Guimaraes noted: “We’ve lost too many points in stupid fashion at the end of games. We’re not going to make the same mistakes again. We’ve spoken a lot about this, we’ve done a lot of video analysis and we’re going to get Lyon back to the top of the table.”