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“Who doesn’t like to see him play football?” : Rayan Cherki, consistency as a key to the Olympics

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“Who doesn’t like to see him play football?” : Rayan Cherki, consistency as a key to the Olympics

Copy paste. Decisive coming off the bench on March 15 during Lyon's victory in Toulouse (2-3), Rayan Cherki did it again on Friday evening... with the jersey of the French under-23 team. While the Bleuets were trailing 2-1 by Ivory Coast in a friendly at Châteauroux, the OL midfielder was launched in the 68th minute. Author of a masterful assist on Wilson Odobert's equalizer, he revitalized the blue attack and allowed his team to reverse the situation. 3-2 victory at the finish. At first glance, it's hard to imagine Thierry Henry doing without him for the Olympic Games.

Even double scorer Désiré Doué recognized after the match that Cherki, 20, “is a very creative player who brings a lot offensively” and “changes a lot of things in a match”. And the Stade Rennes winger added: “When he plays like this (Friday) evening, he’s just fantastic.” Problem, his teammate doesn't always play like Friday night. An irregularity which pushed Pierre Sage, OL coach, to only grant him parts of matches since the end of January, and Thierry Henry not to call him for this gathering.

In the wake of his sensational entry into Toulouse, Rayan Cherki finally took advantage of Georginio Rutter's package to rejoin the group. The coach is delighted. “Rayan, when he plays like that, it’s just impossible to defend against him,” he confided at a press conference after the victory against Ivory Coast. But you have to play like that all the time, his entry against Toulouse, his entry this evening, no matter where he was, he took the ball, he played forward, he reassured everyone.”

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No one questions the immense talent of Rayan Cherki, who made his professional debut with Les Gones at the age of 15. “Who doesn’t love watching him play football? even asks Thierry Henry. I have not seen, in history, a player who knows how to dribble with the right as well as with the left. Consistency. This is what the Lyonnais lacks to be essential, both in club and national team. And treat yourself to a warm place in this French U23 team, until the Olympic Games.

No doubt his coach knew perfectly well what he was doing by leaving him off the initial list. "He woke up. Not seeing his name in the list must have stung him,” assures the former Arsenal striker. Anger the nugget to get the most out of it, a method that Pierre Sage also strives to use in Lyon. At the microphone of the L'Équipe channel, Rayan Cherki conceded that Henry “knows how to press where it hurts. When I come on like that, he tells me that I have the freedom to give what I can to the team and that’s what makes the difference.”

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If his air gaps can easily be attributed to youth, the Franco-Algerian nevertheless remains rather mature in his statements to the press. “It’s a choice of the coach, he’s right. I didn’t perform well enough in the last matches,” he confided after Toulouse-Lyon about his non-selection. An outing greatly appreciated by Henry, who never ceases to remind us of the importance of group life and closely monitors the behavior of his young players. “He was fair and humble,” judges the Bleuets boss. He remained as I know him. He loves football, he knows where he is and knows what he has to do to get back to the forefront. A Rayan Cherki in the foreground at the end of July at the Olympic Games, France says yes.

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