• Author of 8 goals and 4 assists this season with OL, Lucas Paqueta will once again be Lyon's main offensive weapon, this Saturday (5 p.m.) in Lens.

  • If the Brazilian burst the screen last week, in a benchmark success against OGC Nice (2-0), he also went through three complicated months, like all of OL.

  • This irregularity can be explained by the fatigue accumulated with the Seleçao, his multiple job changes, but also the departures of Juninho and Bruno Guimaraes, to whom he was very close.

Nice striker Evann Guessand may no longer dare to try to turn into a defender if he crosses paths with Lucas Paqueta again.

The dizzying little bridge of ease and creativity from the Lyon attacking midfielder, Saturday against Le Gym (2-0), ignited the Parc OL as much as the social networks.

To the point of quickly earning the former AC Milan player a text message from Mauricio Barbieri, his last coach in the Brazilian championship.

𝑩𝑶𝑵 𝑫𝑰𝑴𝑨𝑵𝑪𝑯𝑬 !@LucasPaqueta97 🙃🎁🔞 pic.twitter.com/q873aKjqYg

– Olympique Lyonnais (@OL) February 13, 2022

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"I told him that he hadn't done this on purpose, that it was an accident, and we laughed about it, smiles the one who led the current best Lyon player in 2018 at Flamengo.

In reality, it's a typical Lucas Paqueta dribble, a dribble that we call "irreverent" in Brazil.

He sometimes doesn't want to do things simply on the pitch because it amuses him to perform an action that fits his personality so well.

He's just a happy kid, and seeing that it made the fans crazy at the time, it made him even happier for his wonderful gesture.

It's thanks to this kind of little bridge that Paqueta feels good about his game."

"He wants to play all the time, even when he's not at 100%"

It's simple, the supporters of Olympique Lyonnais had not been in such a state of euphoria at the stadium for four months.

At the time, they were treated to another recital from Lucas Paqueta (8 goals and 4 assists this season) against AS Monaco (2-0), signed less than 48 hours after his participation in a clash against Uruguay with the Seleçao.

“He wants to play all the time, even when he is not 100% physically, says Mauricio Barbieri.

I remember that after one of his first selections with Brazil in the United States (5-0 against El Salvador in September 2018), he wanted to play an important Brazilian Cup match with us the following day.

It is possible that the fatigue accumulated on all these trips and matches with the Seleçao explains certain moments of hollowness.

»

Because if he was brilliant against Nice, but also decisive against PSG (1-1) a month earlier, the 24-year-old player was on the other hand much more neutral on many occasions, after a start of cannon season.

In addition to the physical dimension linked to his 17 games played with the Seleçao since June 2021, the question of his position in the field can be raised to discuss his poor form.

Because coincidentally, it was his return to a position of pure playmaker, in a 4-2-3-1, which allowed him to shine against OGC Nice.

"In 8, he can use his fantastic game vision much better"

Will Peter Bosz still be ready to reposition him at the forefront of the attack, this Saturday (5 p.m.) in Lens, due to the suspension of Moussa Dembélé, as he has so (too?) often did during the latter's long injury in the fall?

Even on the right wing, where the Lyon coach also exiled him.

“In my opinion, his best position on the ground remains in the midfielder, in number 8, assures Mauricio Barbieri, current coach of Red Bull Bragantino (Brazilian D1).

He is a very good number 10, but when he can come from further away, when he has more of the game in front of him, he can use his fantastic vision much better to offer key places to his teammates.

Afterwards, as he is an intelligent player and he has so much talent, he can adapt everywhere.

»

Including in a club that his "dad" Juninho and his "brother" Bruno Guimaraes left in quick succession?

It is indeed difficult not to make the link between the very irregular performances of Lucas Paqueta for three months, as well as certain annoyances on the ground, and the hasty departures of his two dearest compatriots in Lyon.

“Yes, I think that these events could have affected him, evokes Mauricio Barbieri.

He's a very sensitive guy.

Now he has become more mature and he is aware that such changes are coming to football.

»

“When we see him today, we say to ourselves that he is no longer the same player”

For his first European experience after Flamengo, Lucas Paqueta had signed a promising first step in early 2019 with AC Milan.

Then the departure the following summer of Leonardo, then sporting director of the Lombard club having done everything to recruit him (38.4 million euros transfer), coincided (again) with the difficulties of the young midfielder (1 goal and 3 assists for 44 total appearances for Milan).

"I'm not sure there is a link between his bad time in Italy and the departure of Leonardo," says Enrico Curro, journalist at

La Repubblica

based in Milan.

Paqueta was especially sent off at the worst time [May 6, 2019 against Bologna].

It made him miss the last three decisive games to try to grab a qualification for the Champions League.

It was a turning point because from there, the leaders of the club were less patient with him.

They felt that he did not have enough personality to win in Milan.

When we see him today, we say to ourselves that he is no longer the same player as in Serie A. ” Mauricio Barbieri nevertheless recalls how Leonardo then Juninho could have been key figures for the integration of Lucas Paqueta in Europe.

Paqueta needs to feel the confidence of the whole club behind him, from his teammates to the supporters.

And that is necessarily increased tenfold when it comes to a Brazilian leader, who knows his culture and who can understand, better than Europeans, how he perceives life and his job as a footballer.

»

“This jersey is precious to me”

In this sense, the recent tackle by Jean-Michel Aulas, "disappointed" that his star player did not consider favoring the February 1 match against OM (2-1) over a new call-up with the Seleçao, falls badly .

“It is not a very good idea for the president to unpack this in front of the press, judge Mauricio Barbieri.

He probably doesn't understand what is more important than anything for Paqueta, not just as a player but also as a man.

We all grew up in Brazil seeing the Seleçao as the absolute pinnacle in football.

And it doesn't matter if the selection was already qualified, there are so many good players that Paqueta must fight to keep his place.

It would not have been smart of him to decline a summons, it could have cost him dearly for the next World Cup.

»

After the soap operas Juninho and Guimaraes, could this episode encourage the interested party to push for a departure in June, three years from the end of his contract?

Just before OL-PSG, last month,

L'Equipe

announced the strong Parisian interest, obviously symbolized by Leonardo, to recruit Lucas Paqueta.

He has since split a clear message on his social networks: “Don't forget what we can achieve together, this jersey is precious to me!

A declaration of love resembling those regularly addressed by Bruno Guimaraes to the Lyon public, before he signed up with Newcastle, after only two years at OL.

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OL-AS Monaco: Lucas Paqueta, when "the impossible" becomes almost the norm with the luminous "soldier" from Lyon

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OL-Lens: "Lucas Paqueta knows how to be a warrior and Michelangelo", underlines Mauricio Barbieri, his ex-coach at Flamengo

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