Olympique Lyonnais paid €8 million to bring Brazilian midfielder Jean Lucas to France in 2019, negotiating the deal either side of his twenty-first birthday. He left his homeland as one of the hottest prospects in his generation, but had an underwhelming first season in Lyon.
He was originally signed for Lyon by erstwhile manager Sylvinho, who would have had Jean Lucas on his radar in his previous role as Brazil’s Olympic team manager. He made a promising start, scoring a few minutes into his second substitute appearance, but struggled for game time, especially after Sylvinho was sacked and replaced by Rudi Garcia in the Autumn.
One start and ten appearances off the bench were all he could muster in Ligue 1, never once completing ninety minutes and his only other goals came in the Coupe de la Ligue. Not that he’s known as a goal scorer; he had never scored a senior goal before moving to Lyon.
Jean Lucas de Souza Oliveira, to give him his full name, is an all-round, box-to-box central midfielder whose game is, on balance, slightly more defensive than attacking. It has been mooted that he may ultimately be converted into a full-back.
Defensive midfield has been a well-staffed area of the squad at Lyon in recent seasons, so he continues to struggle for first team opportunities. There are glimpses of his talent when he does get some game time, but it looks like he’s going to have to wait for injuries or suspensions to others in order to get a run in the team.
The emergence of Maxence Caqueret and the subsequent signing of fellow Brazilian Bruno Guimarães did Jean Lucas no favours and he was linked with a move to Bordeaux in summer 2020 but nothing materialised and he’ll be fighting for his place at OL for the foreseeable future.
Jean Lucas was born in Rio de Janeiro and spent his formative years in the youth setup of local clubs Nova Iguaçu and Bonsucesso before signing for one of the big fish in the city, Flamengo. He made fourteen appearances for them in the 2018 season as they finished second in Serie A and was a teammate of Lucas Paquetá, who would later re-join him at Lyon in October 2020.
February 2019 saw him move to Santos on loan and he quickly became a first team regular there, but his stay in São Paulo state was to be a short one as Lyon came calling just four and a half months later.
At twenty-two he should be ready to move on from the ‘prospect’ category and start to fulfil his potential. He’s something of a late developer, but even so, only thirty-five senior career starts to his name at this age is a bit of a concern. Has his career stalled, does he need a transfer to reignite it, or does he just need a bit of luck and a run of games to find some consistency and nail down a place in the Lyon team?
These are questions that will be answered over the coming couple of seasons. Perhaps the arrival of his former club mate Lucas Paquetá at Lyon will help him rekindle a bit of the early form he showed at Flamengo if they can link up well together in midfield.