PROSPECT | Castello Lukeba: Ligue 1’s next great centre-back

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Any Ligue 1 season is voyage of discovery. The landscape of talent across the self-styled ‘League of Talents’ evolves considerably between August and May as a host of previously largely unknown youngsters emerge to become Europe’s next major transfer saga. Leading the 21/22 cohort is Lyon defender Castello Lukeba. The 19-year-old Frenchman is a smooth operating, technically gifted, powerful centre-back who has displayed remarkable maturity of late.

With Damien Da Silva aging, Jason Denayer often injured and Jérôme Boateng underperforming, it’s no exaggeration to say that Lyon’s defence is now led, with some authority, by Lukeba. In starting the last 18 matches in a row, the defender has notably impressed in difficult games away at Porto in the Europa League and in the superb Ligue 1 win over Nice.

Given his inexperience as well as the club’s stature and relatively stable finances, it’s unlikely a sale will be considered this summer by either Lukaba or president Jean-Michel Aulas. However, should his development curve continue, his projected status (and transfer value) could easily change that in 2023. Next season should see Lukeba grow into one of France’s leading defenders.

Ligue 1’s Best Teenagers Ranked:
1 – Rayan Cherki (18, AM, Lyon)
2 – Jérémy Doku (19, WF, Rennes)
3 – Castello Lukeba (19, CB, Lyon)
4 – Nuno Mendes (19, LB, PSG)
5 – Mohamed Ali-Cho (18, ST, Angers)
6 – Hugo Ekitike (19, ST, Reims)
7 – Pape Matar Sarr (19, CM, Metz)
8 – Malo Gusto (18, RB, Lyon)
9 – Elye Wahi (19, ST, Montpellier)
10 – Quentin Merlin (19, LB, Nantes)

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