Lyon chose Karl Toko-Ekambi over Amine Gouiri in 2020 transfer dilemma

As he prepares to return to Lyon tonight with Nice to face his formative club, L’Équipe have delved into Amine Gouiri’s career so far. 

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With the forward establishing himself as one of Ligue 1’s hottest attacking prospects after leaving OL on the cheap in 2020, it has emerged that Les Gones had preferred to exercise Cameroon international Karl Toko-Ekambi’s permanent option on his loan from Villarreal.

Many Lyon fans had been anticipating Gouiri’s break into the squad after his cruciate ligament rupture that kept him out for a year, and making 5 appearances the ensuing season.

Then-director Juninho had explained that he “understood” Gouiri’s desire to leave, while internally the club was nearly unanimous in allowing him to do so. The French youth international would have been 5th in the pecking order in attack – behind Memphis Depay, Moussa Dembélé, Karl Toko-Ekambi and Tino Kadewere. Then-manager Rudi Garcia had even stated that his departure had no effect on the club due to his strong attacking options.

Within the club, the choice was between exercising former Angers man Karl Toko-Ekambi’s permanent option for €11.5m plus €4m in bonuses and holding on to Gouiri – the former was chosen. However, six months later Lyon were back in the market for a striker, bringing in Islam Slimani to replace Moussa Dembélé, who had left on loan to Atlético Madrid.