the breathtaking ascent of Castello Lukeba


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Plunged into one of its worst seasons for several years, Olympique Lyonnais is lost in the mid-table of Ligue 1 and in inconstancy before a crucial match to hope to play a European Cup next year, against Strasbourg this Sunday (7 p.m.). But faced with this perilous situation, the Rhone club saw Castello Lukeba emerge. At the age of 19, the young Lyonnais immediately imposed himself in the central defense of OL, with a maturity and ease on the ground that was more than astonishing.

Launched for the first time against Brest (1-1) and Angers (1-1) during the first two days, the French international Espoirs logically did not satisfy. But afterwards, Peter Bosz trusted him against Brondby, in the Europa League (3-1), and since then he has only returned to the bench four times until today. To the point of passing in front of everyone in the hierarchy, including Jason Denayer and Jérôme Boateng.

An impressive rise

His precociousness and his sense of the collective force Lyon supporters to an easily found comparison with Samuel Umtiti, the other left-handed central defender who left the OL training center and became world champion in 2018. A rise in power that impresses his coach. “He’s really consistent, that’s good for a young player. But even there, there are things he needs to do better, that’s normal. But we are really happy. It’s more difficult, when you’re 18, in central defense because a mistake is expensive.he explained last February.

Appearing before the press this Friday before the reception of Strasbourg, Castello Jr. returned to this phenomenal first season, after this draw obtained at West Ham, in C3 (1-1). “It’s a great experience, it’s my first pro season, there was a great atmosphere. I had a lot of fun. The English teams put a lot of intensity and we had to respond to what they offered. I would have preferred to leave London with the victory”he explained.

OL have already secured their jewel

Playing matches in Ligue 1 makes you progress. I progressed in all areas (tactics, technique), it’s another world. I try to stay focused on what I can do, but in football things go fast. I stay focused and I don’t get fired upadds the 19-year-old defender. I’m still learning, but I’m doing my best. I want to apply for a starting position, that’s my goal. Playing matches in Ligue 1 helps me. I think I have improved in all areas, tactics and even mentally.»

If Lukeba assures that he is not yet a real starter, Olympique Lyonnais is counting on him for the next season. The French central defender extended his contract with Lyon for an additional year last January, until 2025. And while Jason Denayer is coming to the end of his contract and Jérôme Boateng’s physical situation is not improving, Lukeba should therefore be, at only 19 years old, the new boss of the Rhone hinge. OL would also target Issa Diop to support him next summer …


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