Castello Lukeba was the revelation of the 2021-22 season for Olympique Lyonnais. His sudden emergence from the academy was a rare bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming campaign for the club.
He began the season as an unknown eighteen year old without a single first team appearance to his name, but impressed in pre-season friendlies and was thrust into the team for the opening Ligue 1 match against Brest. He partnered the Brazilian Marcelo in central defence and looked assured in a 1-1 draw.
Tall, strong, quick and fearless, he cuts an imposing figure on the pitch and plays with a maturity beyond his tender years. He slotted effortlessly into the heart of the Lyon defence and adapted to senior football as though he’d been playing it all his life. He went on to make 24 starts in Ligue 1 that season, scoring two goals, and looks set to be a mainstay of the Lyon defence for years to come.
Born in Lyon, Lukeba joined the OL academy aged just 9 and has progressed through the ranks at the club, picking up French representative caps at U17, U20 and U21 levels along the way. He certainly has the potential to make the step up to the full French national team one day, and it may not be long until some of the biggest clubs in Europe start making enquiries about his availability.
For now, he just needs to keep working hard and make sure that he continues on his current trajectory at Lyon. A solid second season would confirm that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan last time around, and really is a budding star of the future.