Central midfielder Skelly Alvero joined Olympique Lyonnais from Sochaux for €4 million in the summer transfer window of 2023. Aged just twenty-one, and with only one full season of first team experience in Ligue 2 behind him, Alvero jumped at the chance to step up a division and sign a five year contract with Lyon.
Born in the northern suburbs of Paris, Alvero was on the books of venerable local club Red Star as a youngster before moving to the Franche-Comté region in the east of France in his mid-teens to join FC Sochaux-Montbéliard, another of the famous old names in French football. There, he worked his way through the youth ranks and reserves to eventually earn a first team debut in November 2021, aged nineteen.
Cup action with Sochaux
His breakthrough came in a Coupe de France first round tie away at Bresse Jura Foot. Alvero was introduced in the 79th minute to replace Hermann Tebily, with Sochaux having just taken a 3-0 lead in front of a motley crowd of 1,676 at the Parc des Sports du Bram. The match ended 3-1 to ‘Les Lionceaux‘ (the Lion Cubs), as Sochaux are known.
Alvero was handed a second taste of the action in the following round when he again replaced Tebily. On this occasion he entered the fray in the 32nd minute, with his team 3-0 to the good away at lowly AS Montchat Lyon. A paltry 1,185 souls witnessed his performance at the Stade Vuillermet as Sochaux coasted through the last hour of the game towards their 3-0 victory but, who knows, maybe some scouts from Olympique Lyonnais were among their number and liked what they saw.
There were to be no further first team appearances for Skelly Alvero during that 2021-22 season but, having by now signed his first professional contract, he began to feature regularly in the early part of the following campaign. His first league appearance was against Amiens on matchday three, when he came off the bench on the hour mark to replace Roli Pereira de Sa for his home debut at the Stade Auguste-Bonal in front of 10,263 supporters. Unfortunately the occasion was spoiled by a Mamadou Fofana goal eleven minutes later to consign the Sochaliens to a 1-0 defeat.
Establishing himself in the first team
Seven further substitute appearances in Ligue 2 followed (six wins and a draw) before he was handed his first start, in a 3-0 Coupe de France first round win against Hombourg-Haut. He played the full ninety minutes for the first time in his professional career and even provided the assist for the third goal. His first league start came just a week later in a 2-1 defeat away at Annecy.
Alvero was a regular starter during the second half of the season as Sochaux pushed for promotion to Ligue 1. His first goal for the club was a stoppage time equaliser against Pau in April 2023, but the visitors snatched a winner at the death, which triggered a run of eight successive defeats to end the season.
If Sochaux’ season ended on a collective low, with them slumping from third to ninth place during that disastrous eight game sequence, Skelly Alvero’s personal denouement was even worse. He picked up the first red card of his career an hour into in the penultimate match, a 1-0 defeat at home to Metz. That dismissal, for serious foul play, proved to be his final act in a Sochaux shirt. He was suspended for the last game of the campaign and his suspension carried over into the first two matches of his Lyon career after his summer transfer.
Frustrating start at Lyon
Alvero made his Lyon debut off the bench in the third game of the season, a 0-0 draw against Nice at the Allianz Riviera. He replaced Ainsley Maitland-Niles in central midfield in the 71st minute and picked up a yellow card late on. He came on for Rayan Cherki for the last fifteen minutes of the next match, a home defeat against PSG, which proved to be the last game in charge for the manager who brought him to Lyon, Laurent Blanc.
Unfortunately, Skelly Alvero got off on the wrong foot with Blanc’s replacement, Fabio Grosso, when he turned up late for the pre-match team meeting ahead of the first game under the newly installed Italian manager. As a punishment, Alvero was stuck off the team sheet and made to watch the 1-0 defeat at Brest from the stands.
He was finally handed his first start for Lyon a week later when Grosso selected him alongside Corentin Tolisso in central midfield for the visit of Reims. Alvero’s assured performance was one of the few bright points for Lyon in an otherwise disappointing 2-0 defeat that left them rock bottom of the Ligue 1 table.
The colossus of Rhône
At 6 ft 8 inches (2.02m) tall, Alvero stands head and shoulders above most of his team mates, adding some much needed height and physicality to the squad. When selected, his presence should add solidity to an otherwise fairly lightweight midfield and he’ll hopefully pose an aerial threat from set pieces.
However, his youth and lack of experience make him a very raw recruit and it’s a big ask to expect an immediate impact from him in Ligue 1. He was probably signed as one for the future, but the team’s poor start and a change of manager mean that he’s been given opportunities earlier than might have been anticipated. Fingers crossed that he can go on to achieve big things in la Ville des Lumières.