Mahamadou Diawara is a French midfielder of Malian descent who primarily plays a roving ‘box-to-box’ role. He signed for Lyon as a free agent in June 2023 having spent the previous five years on the books of Paris Saint-Germain.
The eighteen-year-old was disappointed to only be offered a trainee contract by the Parisian club last summer, having impressed in the PSG youth setup, so he rejected their proposal and left to further his career elsewhere. Lyon made a quick move to capture his signature and Diawara was happy to relaunch his career in the Rhône.
Fast-tracked to the first team
Diawara was signed as one for the future and was expected to spend most of his first season in Lyon playing for the reserve team in the Championnat National 3 Groupe K. Indeed, that’s where he made his club debut, playing in central midfield in a 4-3 win against Clermont Foot B at the Groupama OL Academy ground under the watchful tutelage of former Lyon midfielder Gueida Fofana.
However, Diawara only made two further appearances for the reserves, in draws against Valence and Vaulx-en-Velin, before he was called up to bolster the struggling first team squad in Ligue 1 under recently appointed manager Fabio Grosso. He was thrown straight into the starting XI against Lorient at the Groupama Stadium on the 10th of August and played for sixty minutes before has was replaced in midfield by Corentin Tolisso with Lyon leading 3-2. Unfortunately they couldn’t hold on after he was substituted and they ended up drawing 3-3.
Diawara has featured in every Lyon Ligue 1 fixture since then, although he is yet to complete ninety minutes. He was used as a substitute in the home defeat to Clermont Foot and the away win at Rennes either side of his second start in the home draw against Metz. His third start came in the 2-0 home defeat to Lille, but he was withdrawn at half time as Grosso continued to chop and change his team. The Italian was relieved of his position as Lyon manager following that match, so it remains to be seen whether his successor will continue to experiment with Diawara or will revert to more experienced players for the battle against relegation.
Mahamadou Diawara received his first call-up to the French U-19 national team squad in November 2023 and he featured in all three of their Euro U-19 Championship qualifiers during that international break. His debut came as a late substitute in a 2-0 win against Estonia at the Stade de la Source in Orléans. He got a few more minutes in a 1-0 win over Iceland at the same venue a few days later and then played the full ninety away at Denmark as Bernard Diomède’s selection succumbed to a 2-1 defeat.
During his final season with PSG, Diawara made sixteen appearances for the Paris Saint-Germain U-19 team in their Championnat National U-19 campaign. They finished second, behind Lens in their regionalised league but made it through to the final of the national play-offs where they lost 2-1 to Nantes, with Diawara coming off the bench to replace Naoufel El Hannach for the last eight minutes. Diawara also appeared as a substitute in three of PSG’s UEFA Youth League group stage matches, against Maccabi Haifa and Benfica (twice).
Ultimately, his future lay away from the capital and his path to the first team at PSG would certainly have been more arduous that it has proved at Lyon, where he’s already getting opportunities. He looks like a very promising young prospect and it will be interesting to watch how he develops as he matures.