Maxime Gonalons 22 Midfielder Lyon
Jeremy Toulalan had been a fixture of the Olympique Lyonnais midfield for a number of years. Consistently effective during his time with the club, Toulalan’s departure to Malaga in the summer could have posed a significant dilemma for Les Gones. That it didn’t, is due to the emergence of Maxime Gonalons.
Gonalons is a complete midfielder; equally adept at providing a screen for defenders - his primary role - or pushing forward to provide a link with attack and, occasionally, the odd goal. Displaying composure and a more than useful arial ability, the young Frenchman is perhaps a little too young to fully control matches week in week out. However Lyon’s latest protégé displays the characteristics of a player that is likely to become a significant force in French Football for the next decade.
Sensibly integrated into the first team picture at Lyon over a period of seasons, Gonalons has been capped at under 21 level for France and, following a promising start to the season, a senior call up arrived recently. The odd over exuberant challenge here and there can be forgiven, but forgiveness may be in short supply should the youngster’s form dip.
Despite finding his feet well at Lyon and appearing ready to step up to Laurent Blanc’s France side, Gonalons, perhaps more than any other player on this list cannot afford to be complacent. Lyon’s capture of Gueida Fofana from Le Havre – another player we have looked at in this series - is two years younger and also favours the defensive midfield role in which by Gonalons is currently engaged.
A need to maintain an watchful eye over the shoulder is not just a club issue either. France is currently enjoying the emergence of a generation keen to press the pedals of the fabled Makélélé role for Les Bleus. Bordeaux's Alou Diarra, Saint Etienne's Blaise Matuidi and Rennes’ Yann M'Vila all capable of displaying fine form for their respective clubs.
While this provides a wonderful selection quandary for Laurent Blanc, Gonalons will need to stay right on top of his game to ensure he emerges as the man for the job. A lengthy injury of any sort could have severe ramifications at a critical stage in his career. Consistency has to be maintained.
That said, we’ve been particularly impressed by the Lyon midfielder's versatility and this could be the Vénissieux born player’s most useful feature……but Gonalons would do well to bear in mind that versatility is the faithful comrade of the substitutes bench.
"Calm and composed midfielder, breaks up the play well. Has started to force his influence on Lyon due to Toulalan's departure." - Andrew Gibney (French Football Weekly)
"Summer sale of Jeremy Toulalan allowed him to claim starting place in Lyon first XI. Cappped for France recently after strong start to season." - Tom Williams (Journalist)
"Jeremy Toulualan may well have been packed off to Malaga because Lyon knew they had a ready-made replacement to step in." - Jonathan Johnson (French Football Weekly)
C+ Concentrate on your game, master your position.