Talented, brilliant, and sometimes a little too erratic. Rayan Cherki has been uniting and dividing France for a few years now between superlative play and a continuity that has yet to be found. But now the music seems to have changed. Since the beginning of 2023 Cherki has been one of the most decisive players of the Lyon team led by Laurent Blanc; today the 2003 born and bred Lyon talent seems to have become a more mature player and is ready to play a major role with the club, the national team and also in the Golden Boy 2023 key.
Heralded as one of the greatest talents in Lyon’s academy, Rayan Cherki has taken his time to confirm all the hopes pinned on him. Brilliant on Sunday 12 February against RC Lens (2-1), the ‘baby gones’ finally seems to be taking off within his training club and in Ligue 1. More regular and more unselfish, the OL nugget has become at 19 one of the fulcrums of Laurent Blanc’s system this season.

In January 2020, during a Coupe de France round of 16 final at Nantes (3-4), Rayan Cherki, aged just 16, showed the general public the extent of his talent by scoring a brace in less than ten minutes, providing two assists and causing a penalty. From that moment on, it seemed like we were really dealing with a phenomenon. Only, after this top-notch performance, apart from the occasional flash of genius, Rayan Cherki often disappointed to the point of plunging back into the unknown. But the year of his 20th birthday seems to be the right one at last, the one in which he will arrive where everyone has been waiting for him since his first steps in OL…

He also seems convinced that he has turned the corner this season

I don’t know if I understood in the end, I always knew what I was capable of doing,” the Lyon man reacted to the Prime Video microphone. It was just a question of confidence. Today I have it from the coach and I hope to give it back to him as much as possible.

Today, Rayan Cherki is a player who counts at Lyon. Since Laurent Blanc’s arrival, he has even become an unquestioned starter at the heart of the game, his preferred position, he who has too often been put on one flank since his debut at Lyon.
“He is a boy who is very talented, on this practically everyone is unanimous. He has a lot of talent but he has to use it wisely and use it for the good of the team. With Rayan it wasn’t always like that and that gave rise to somewhat heated discussions with him,’ the Lyon coach confided in early January.

The bickering between the two men paid off. Lyon’s number 18 has left the dribbling aside to impress in the stands with a simpler game and just to establish himself as the fulcrum of the Lyon system at the moment. “I play in a position that helps me and helps the team, I think it shows,” admitted Rayan Cherki.

If Lyon can enjoy the best Cherki also thanks to Laurent Blanc’s work, perhaps soon Didier Deschamps will also be able to count on him in a national team that after Benzema’s farewell is looking for the new ideal partner for former Golden Boy Kylian Mbappé.
From Lyon to Lyon, where Benzema’s record creaks under the blows of the phenomenal new French talent.

So far, although Rayan Cherki has had a little delay in starting, he has already broken records for precocity. At OL, he has already scored thirteen goals at the age of 19 years and five months, better than Karim Benzema at the time, who had to wait 19 years and 7 months to achieve this performance‘.


Extracts from an article in Ouest France, 13 February 2023: