While Jean Lucas didn’t enjoy an ideal start to his second season at Olympique Lyon, his loan for the second half of the 2020/2021 to Brest allowed him to regain his confidence and find some solid form.
Having signed in the summer of 2019 for a reported €8 million from Brazilian powerhouse Flamengo, he’s struggled to make a real impact for Les Gones largely due to the heavy competition for places in midfield. Up against the likes of Houssem Aouar, Bruno Guimaraes, Maxence Caqueret, Lucas Paqueta and Thiago Mendes, this meant he could only muster 167 minutes of league action in the opening half of the Ligue 1 campaign.
Knowing his playing time would continue to be limited, joining Brest on loan represented him with a fantastic opportunity to get some vital playing time. Playing under progressive coah Olivier Dall’Oglio, Lucas was granted regular game time to prove his worth on his way to getting 1011 minutes under his belt.
Although his loan spell wasn’t flawless, there were still many positives attached to his time with Brest, where the midfielder adapted to life with the Pirates nicely. “Last year, I did not play a lot in Lyon, in Brest I can play, I can do things and I am very happy,” Lucas explained.
“I have regained some playing time and I can show those who may have doubts about me that I am capable of doing great things.”
Following his upturn in form, the talented 22-year-old’s attracted the interest of AS Monaco according to L’Equipe, which would be an interesting move indeed for Les Monegasques. Capable of operating as a six or an eight, in combination with his age and huge scope for improvement, would see him fit the profile of the type of player Monaco would be keen on.
Full of energy, the physical, technical and athletic Lucas would fit right into the demands of working under Niko Kovac.
To begin with his defensive work, and he’s proven what a useful presence he is. Intense in his pressing and robust in the tackle, Lucas reads situations well to often ensure he breaks up attacks with his positioning and interventions or forces opponents into poor decisions. Attentive to pressing triggers such as an opponent receiving with their back to goal, in an open body shape and if they’re about to inherit a weak pass, this helps him gain an edge in his ball winning attempts.
Due to his stamina and fitness, he counterpresses effectively, makes excellent recovery runs to support teammates and is good at slowing down counters by getting to opponents quickly. Strong in the challenge and using his power to unbalance opponents, this adds to his stopping value.
The man with a bright future is arguably even better with his offensive contributions, for his craft on the ball and intelligent movement parlay to make him an asset.
Distributing the ball with confidence, incision and clarity, his vast repertoire of passes means he can find his colleagues coherently from all sorts of scenarios and positions. if the chance arises for him to play ambitious line breaking passes, raking switches of play or measured through balls over the top, he’ll duly take it.
Quick to read where his teammates are located and what runs they’re making, how he assesses his options before he’s even received possession buys him some valuable extra time to execute his actions.
Maintaining his composure under pressure, it’s been good to see how he engages in slick combination play in confined spaces and generally handles being harried successfully to still complete the majority of his passes.
While he does give up possession needlessly on occasion trying to overdo by going for an expansive pass when the simpler option would suffice, this is something that he can improve in time.
A clean ball striker with good technique, his shooting is another feature of his play, which has seen him score some fantastic goals from range, near the edge of the box or from inside the area.
Clean with his first touch and ball control, there’s much to admire about his output with the ball at his feet. Able to maraud upfield at speed with his dynamic ball carrying, beat opponents on the dribble or weave out of danger to gain separation, Lucas is very competent in this area.
Skillful and aware of his surroundings due to his head scanning, this means he knows if he needs to turn away from the incoming pressure, protect the ball, let the ball run onto his back foot or turn immediately. Boasting some nice moves to outfox adversaries, including stepovers, body swerves, feints and a swift change of pace, opponents need to be wary of him in possession.
Meanwhile, in terms of his movement, his knowledge of when to drop back and form overloads during build up, support wide attacks and receive behind the lines of the opposition amplifies his value.
Moreover, how he rotates and performs opposite movements with colleagues, draws markers to open passing lanes and embarks on some wicked upfield bursts to surprise defences all deserve mention.
By the numbers from the last three years, his 6.1 ball recoveries per 90, 2.50 interceptions p90, 2.21 accurate long balls p90, 2.15 completed dribbles p90, 1.80 shots p90, 1.24 progressive runs p90 and 0.43 shot assists p90 shows his all-round promise.
Even though he’d have to be content with a place on the bench were he to join Monaco, he’d still probably see more action than if he remained with Lyon in all likelihood. Considering first choice central midfielders Aurelien Tchouameni and Youssouf Fofana will need to be rotated regularly due to Monaco’s busy European and domestic schedule, someone like Lucas would be a top option to have in the squad.
The deciding factor on where he’ll be plying his trade next season will be whether new Lyon manager, Peter Bosz, sees him as a part of his plans or surplus to requirements.
Rumoured to cost around €7-10 million, if this is true, the deal would be a shrewd piece of business indeed by Monaco’s recruitment team, which is spearheaded by masterful sporting director Paul Mitchell.
While he may not yet be the finished product, all the signs are encouraging that Lucas has the talent to develop into an exceptional player in the future, which makes Monaco’s supposed interest in him easily understandable.