In December 2022, Nicolás Tagliafico became only the second Olympique Lyonnais player to win the FIFA World Cup whilst at the club, following in the footsteps of Nabil Fekir in 2018.
The Argentina left-back was an integral part of his country’s World Cup winning campaign in Qatar, featuring in all but one of their matches, and playing the full ninety minutes in the semi-final and final, plus most of extra time in the final before he was replaced by Paulo Dybala for the decisive penalty shoot-out.
His combativity, tough tackling and tactical discipline combined with his tireless running up and down the left flank make him one of the most reliable full-backs in world football and one of the biggest names in the current Lyon squad.
Tagliafico was born to the children of Italian immigrants in the small town of Rafael Calzada, near Buenos Aires in 1992 and made his initial breakthrough with local team Club Atlético Banfield. Having progressed through the youth ranks, he made his first team debut as a substitute on the 11th of March 2011, aged eighteen, in a 2-1 win away at Tigre in the Primera División Torneo Clausura.
He was a first team regular throughout the 2011-12 season, during which Banfield struggled badly, and were ultimately relegated from the top flight. The following season saw him loaned out to Real Murcia in the Spanish Segunda División, where he featured regularly in another struggling side, before returning to Banfield to help them gain promotion back to the top level in 2013–14.
Now aged 22, Tagliafico was starting to attract the attention of the big clubs across town in Buenos Aires and, after a final season with Banfield, he was snapped up by Club Atlético Independiente for around €2.78 million in February 2015. Three largely successful seasons followed with ‘El Rojo‘, which culminated in him captaining them to victory in the 2017 Copa Sudamericana. Tagliafico had the honour of lifting the trophy in the Estádio do Maracanã after the second leg of the final against a Flamengo side that featured future Lyon star Lucas Paqueta and Vinícius Júnior.
Shortly after that triumph, Ajax came calling and a €4 million fee was sufficient to prise Tagliafico away from Independiente for a permanent move back to Europe. His four and a half year stay in Amsterdam was as trophy laden as you might expect, with three Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cups to his name before he was allowed to move to Lyon in the summer of 2022.
By then, Tagliafico had already become a continental champion with Argentina, helping them to win the 2021 Copa América. He played the entirety of the semi-final against Colombia but had to settle for a twenty-seven minute cameo in the second half of the final against tournament hosts Brazil, coming on for Giovani Lo Celso. However, he was once again able to enjoy lifting a trophy in the iconic Maracanã stadium, albeit an empty one due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Signed for a bargain €4.2 million, on a three-year contract, Tagliafico was one of Lyon’s most consistent players during his first season at the club, in what was an underwhelming Ligue 1 campaign sandwiched around the personal high of his career defining World Cup win.
Now aged thirty-one, and having just scored his first international goal in the recent World Cup 2026 qualifier against Bolivia in La Paz, Tagliafico shows no signs of slowing down, and will be relishing the prospect of trying to defend his Copa América title in 2024 in the USA.