Rayan Cherki celebrates a goal for Lyon

Who is Rayan Cherki? The tantalising Lyon prodigy with the world at his feet

Lyon teenager Rayan Cherki is one of the most talented youngsters in European football - a prodigy packed full of skill and attacking potential.

There is a catch though - his failure to produce that magic on a regular basis.

Jacque Talbot - Chief correspondent for FootballTransfers - looks at why Cherki could be a great of the future, and why he hasn’t quite got there yet.


Rayan Cherki has been a football wonderkid for what already feels like an eternity.

A bit like Gianluigi Donnarumma, you look at his age and are astounded that he remains so young. Cherki is just 19 years old, but he has already been well known in Ligue 1 for years.

A teenage sensation, a starlet, a prodigy - he fits all of those lofty descriptions perfectly.

This attacking wizard has now played 100 games in total for Lyon. His latest appearance - a 3-1 win over Monaco last Friday night - was particularly astounding (more on that to come).

People are taking more and more notice of this young talent.

Rayan Cherki transfer value - how much is he worth?

Rayan Cherki’s xTV (Expected Transfer Value)

We have Cherki’s xTV (Expected Transfer Value) set at €7.3million right now. This might seem a little low when you consider he was valued at €20m in January 2021.

There are clear reasons for the dip though.

Rayan’s 2021-22 season was cut short by a fractured metatarsal, cutting his playing time and his market value. Throw in his inconsistent form, and it is clear why Lyon have been able to keep hold of him for this long.

Some say games like the one against Monaco are all too rare, and then Cherki goes back to being relatively average. But the technical ability - and the massive potential - is acutely there.

And he is still only a teenager.

Against Les Rouge et Blanc, Cherki helped his team open the scoring after doing a Marseille turn just by the six-yard box.

It was a wonderful piece of skill as his shot was saved before team-mate Maxence Caqueret pounced on the rebound.

To round off the win for Lyon, Cherki danced his way through the defence, putting the ball to his left and drilling into the far corner. Once again, jaws dropped to the floor.

This is the sort of thing he can do.

Cherki's strengths and weaknesses

But sometimes such flamboyance lands Cherki in hot water.

Le Progrès reported in December that Lyon’s staff and players were incredibly frustrated with him after he attempted a Panenka penalty in the club’s loss to Arsenal in their mid-season friendly.

Wizardry is great, but it needs to be used in the correct manner. Cherki is good enough to have been linked with moves to Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain this year but nothing has been solidly followed up as yet.

Via L’Équipe, the youngster said: “I’m trying to do my best to show that I deserve a starting place [at Lyon]. I know that my time will come at some point. I am patient, even if the impatience is starting to be felt.”

Cherki burst onto the scene two years ago under coach Rudi Garcia, but it has been a mercurial time since then. There is no doubt that Cherki is exceptionally gifted.

He is one of those players who can provide moments of sublime quality. He came out of the Lyon academy, where he was considered the next big thing, following the likes of Karim Benzema.

The trouble is, Cherki seldom tracks back and does not offer enough defensively.

So often in the modern game today, managers seek players who possess a number of different attributes regardless of the position they play in - goalkeepers with good passing, centre-backs with ball-carrying ability and attackers who can force turnovers high up the pitch.

This isn't quite Cherki.

Rayan Cherki's 22/23 stats

However what he does have is two wonderful feet, and this spells trouble for defenders looking to close him down on a ‘weaker side’.

Naturally, this also means that he can play effectively on either flank, as well as being dangerous when being played down the middle of the pitch.

Cherki has played 32 games for Lyon in Ligue 1 in 2022-23, scoring four goals and registering five assists in that time.

According to our data, this season he averages 1.79 shots, 1.05 key passes, 5.7 dribbles, and 1.24 tackles. He is also a high-volume passer and a superb ball carrier.

It’s a solid foundation for a 19-year-old.

When will Cherki leave Lyon?

Undoubtedly Cherki remains very raw and by no means the finished article. But you can see why a number of large clubs would be interested.

Lyon will miss out on Champions League qualification this season. There is no reason to panic, but Cherki’s current deal is up in 2024, though there is the option of another year.

We expect to see speculation about a move away from Lyon increase in the coming years - but his exit appears unlikely to come during this summer’s transfer window.

The player himself does not appear to be in much of a rush - outside of his often-declared love for Lyon he has only openly talked up the possibility of playing for Real Madrid, a path which would of course see him follow in the footsteps of the great Benzema.

While his ability and potential means that sort of dream could one day become reality, first he needs to produce that trademark wizardry on a more regular basis.

Until then, Lyon fans can continue to marvel at those intermittent moments of absolute magic.

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