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Scout Report: Maxwel Cornet | Lyon’s latest starlet

Josh Sippie breaks down Maxwel Cornet, Lyon’s dynamic attacker.

Olympique Lyon just have a knack for plucking supremely talented youth players and bringing them to their outfit, particularly domestically and from Africa. They have become a successful outfit by using the strategy of raising these young players, who are successful from a young age, and then selling them off at massive prices, therefore funding their expenditures for years. Yet through it all, they remain in the heat of any Ligue 1 season and are consistent members of European competition, which adds to the attraction that young players feel towards joining Lyon, as they know they are a priority and will be given a platform from which they can vault themselves up to the next level of club football.

Maxwel Cornet is just another example of what Lyon do best. An incredibly talented player, Lyon had tracked him for years before finally making their move for him. With Lyon, he has made himself known and is on the brink of becoming their next big thing.

Who is Maxwell Cornet?

Gnaly Maxwell Cornet was born in Begbo, Ivory Coast on 27th September 1996. He left his country when he was just three and a half years old and took no time at all finding his start in football. While French clubs usually reserve their training centers for players over the age of ten, Cornet joined the Metz training center at the age of six. He would remain with Metz throughout his entire youth career and make his professional debut for the Metz senior side at the age of 16 in 2012. In his rookie season, he managed three goals in 12 matches. After struggling in his second year with FC Metz, Cornet ran his contract out and joined up with Olympique Lyon. There, at the age of 18, he was first called upon to face his former club.

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With his path cleared for him with several first-team exits, Cornet found an increase in his first team minutes in the 2015-16 season, as he finished the year with nearly 2000 minutes to his name, 12 goals and three assists. Cornet followed up his breakout year with another solid sophomore campaign, scoring ten and assisting two.

Internationally, Cornet has always successfully represented the French youth sides, from the U16 level all the way up to the U19s. While he scored a total of 24 goals across these youth outfits, Cornet opted to represent the Ivory Coast at a senior level, holding dual citizenship. He solidified this decision with his first international appearance for the African side on 4 June 2017.

What is his Style of Play?

Maxwell Cornet is fast. Very fast. Which gives defenders enough problems. But then he slips in a brilliant pass or backheel, finds an open teammate and you’re left scratching your head because he appears indefensible.

Like any self-respecting winger whose primary asset is his speed, Cornet can also be found shredding opposing defenders. He is capable of stopping on a dime and losing defenders no matter the situation. Whether that requires numerous step-overs or a ball tapped down the line that he then wins the race to, Cornet can get around obstacles with a variety of weapons. That keeps defenders honest, as they can’t key in on one specific, go-to skill set, since he has so many at his disposal. He nurses this advantage for all it’s worth, mixing up his one-on-one strategies in each encounter. He is particularly dangerous near the touchline. Just when defenders think he can only cut back inside, he somehow squirts around them, tight-roping the touch line, and is deeper into the box, with the defender playing catch-up. 

When it comes to scoring goals, he is also an intelligent runner and a smooth finisher. He knows when to break, especially in a give and go. And once he is face-to-face with the goalie, the world is his oyster. He can be seen dribbling around the goalie, chipping him, drilling it in the five-hole or coolly curling it around the last man.

What are his Strengths?

Cornet has a grocery list of strengths, but you have to start with his speed. He is already climbing the charts in the “fastest footballers” lists and he is just 20 years old. But speed alone isn’t going to get a player that far, so while it is most certainly a strength, it is in how he combines this strength with his other strengths that really makes him special. It’s his dribbling that makes his speed even more fearsome. For being so fast, he is rarely out of control and knows numerous ways around any given defender.

Which leads into the his other main strength: his eye for the killer pass. While he hasn’t hit the big assist numbers that you’d expect from someone who can boast passing as one of their biggest strengths, you may have noticed that he had a remarkable number of assists robbed from him last year by spectacular saves and goal line clearances.

That isn’t always going to happen. Assists will become his forte. He already has a fantastic eye for picking out that clinical, deadly pass- all he needs now is for those passes to punch the back of the net and not spin harmlessly on the goal line for recovering defenders and keepers to punt away.

It would just be irresponsible to list his strengths without touching on his finishing. This is just another way through which Cornet shatters the stereotype of being a young, fast, dribbling winger. Along with having an exceptional passing eye, he is also a cold-blooded killer in front of goal, capable of punching that ball in any way he wants. Not only that, but he is even proficient at first-time shots.

What are his Weaknesses?

With such a strong presence on the ball and yet such an eagerness to push forward, there is always going to be the hazard of being too loose with the ball and surrendering possession. And while Cornet is certainly not an ironclad over the ball, his surrendered possession numbers are nowhere near other players of a similar type. In his first two years, he has never been dispossessed more than 1.5 times on average per 90 minutes played. Compare that to most dribblers and you’ll see numbers going up into the 2.0-3.0 range and beyond.  It’s hard to even call it a weakness, but there is always room for improvement.

A similar instance can be found with his passing game. While Cornet has an incredibly intelligent passing mind with excellent vision, he is prone to trying to force the ball. Each season thus far at Lyon, he has managed just around 75% pass completion which, again, is by no means disastrous, but there is certainly room for improvement.

Josh Sippie

Josh Sippie

Josh Sippie is a Yank who lives in New York City and follows all football (the real kind) religiously. He is a diehard Arsenal supporter and has found a practical use to his tortured fandom by serving as the site expert of the aptly named “Pain in the Arsenal.” He despises flopping and is proud that his fellow Americans are finally getting the picture and taking football (the real kind) seriously.
Josh Sippie

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