Former Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit says he was “surprised” when the club announced the signing of Malo Gusto from Lyon in January — describing the defender as “inconsistent”.
The 20-year-old burst onto the scene in 2021/22 at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, racking up 37 appearances in all competitions to garner the attention of some of Europe’s top clubs.
An attack-minded full-back who progressed through Lyon’s academy as a playmaker and right winger, the France U21 international fit perfectly in Peter Bosz’s high-octane and fluid pressing set-up given his enterprise and insatiable drive to bomb down the flank.
Among defenders with at least 270 minutes played since the start of 2021/22 (the equivalent of three full matches), Gusto ranks first in Ligue 1 for expected assists from open play per 90 minutes (0.23), underlining those attacking qualities and his creative output.
In fact, only Achraf Hakimi (10.23) and Jonathan Clauss (11.54) can better his 8.92 expected assists from open play by those same parameters, and that despite playing 1,041 minutes fewer than the former, and 2,179 minutes fewer than the latter.
But, there can be no question that since signing for Chelsea and being loaned back out to Lyon, Gusto’s form has dipped, a result of a hamstring issue and an inability to re-establish his presence in the first team under Laurent Blanc.
As a result, Petit has questioned whether Gusto will be able to muscle his way into Mauricio Pochettino’s side next season.
Speaking exclusively to Squawka (on behalf of Genting Casino), Petit said: “I was quite surprised when Chelsea bought him.
“He’s a decent player, he’s got good qualities, but he’s still very young and he’s still learning — and he’s quite inconsistent.
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“With Chelsea, they have so many signings. Look at [Benoit] Badiashile, he was signed from Monaco and didn’t play every single game.
“He wasn’t part of the Champions League squad as well. I can understand that players want to go to the Premier League, it’s a dream for them, but you have to ask yourself whether you’ll be in the first team.
“Cesar Azpilicueta is getting on, but Chelsea have Reece James. It will be very difficult for Gusto to earn his position in the first XI.”