The return of Marko Grujic to Liverpool and the departure of Per Ciljan Skjelbred to Norway has left a hole in the centre of midfield at the Olympiastadion. Hertha Berlin fans need not worry though as the player they signed back in January has arrived to fill the void and he looks more than capable of compensating for the loss of Grujic and Skjelbred.
The signing of Lucas Tousart back in January was part of investor Lars Windhorst’s latest tranche of signings as Hertha look to move up into the higher echelons of both German and European football. €77 million was splashed out on Krzysztof Piatek, Matheus Cunha, Santiago Ascacibar and Lyon’s Tousart. Die Alte Dame paid €25 million for the then 22-year-old, but part of the negotiations to bring him to Berlin were that he’d remain with the French club until the end of the season. Knowing that were going to be acquiring a real talent Hertha agreed to the delay.
Tousart began his career at Valenciennes during the second half of the 2014-15 season in Ligue 2 and was snapped up by Lyon after just 18 first-team appearances. At first, he was deployed in the youth team, but after helping the French win the U-19 European Championship in the summer of 2016, he graduated to the Lyon first-team.
He made 22 appearances in his first season with Les Gonnes, and then became an absolute first choice/ undroppable midfielder in 2017-18. “He is a modest, hard-working young man who knows what he wants. His profile matches the modern holding midfielder: skilful and physically strong. He is a great team player who embodies the values we want to pass on at this club, namely humility and enthusiasm” Lyon Under-19 boss Joel Frechet explained at the time.
He started out as an energetic ball-winner in the centre of the pitch but has since improved all other aspects of his midfield play. Comparisons have been made with Didier Deschamps and Ngolo Kante, but the Bundesliga comparison that perhaps suits best is that of Javi Martinez.
He had an 84.8% pass completion rate in Ligue 1 last season and led the Lyon side for tackles in the midfield third (34) and successful pressures in the midfield third (264). He also led the team on total tackles made and tackles won. He made 27 interceptions, putting him second on the team behind Thiago Mendes. He was also just behind Mendes on ball recoveries (220). He scored twice in the league and provided two assists, but he reserved his most important goal for the Champions League, where his strike gave Lyon a 1-0 win over Juventus in the first leg of the round of 16 clash.
Speaking back in January Hertha manager Michael Preetz was delighted at being able to sign the midfield talent. “The signing is a preparation for the summer and an investment into our future as a club. In Lucas we are getting a young, but experienced international player from a team in the Champions League, who will strengthen our midfield straight away.”
The player was also looking forward to getting started with the capital club. “I’m happy that the transfer has been completed” he explained. “I really identify myself with the ambitions of the club. The conversations I had also really impressed me, and by how much they wanted to have me here. What they’re doing here in Berlin is really exciting and I want to be a part of it! I’m happy, but also thankful at the same time for being given the chance to finish my story at Lyon.”