why such a violent break between Toko-Ekambi and the Lyon fans
Soon exfiltrated from OL with an imminent loan to Rennes, Karl Toko-Ekambi, despite some interesting spells, was caught off guard by Lyon fans, who blamed him for many poor performances and his state of mind.
Departing on a loan deal at Stade Rennais, Karl Toko-Ekambi will therefore (temporarily) leave Olympique Lyonnais on one last sadly symbolic picture: a furious – but failed – kick into a rubbish bin that was in the dressing room tunnel of Groupama Stadium. In the midst of a 2-1 defeat by Strasbourg, then second bottom of the league, much of the crowd booed the Cameroon international when he was substituted.
“When players aren’t happy in a club and can’t give their full measure of talent, we think about finding a solution, in Lyon as in other clubs,” commented Laurent Blanc, admitting it would be “difficult” to see the striker still with the colors of Lyon. For this season, at least.
Between Karl Toko-Ekambi and OL, the story quickly became complex. His arrival in January 2020 on a €4m loan with a €11.5m option to buy raises questions. Especially since the young Amine Gouiri, eagerly awaited by the followers of the training center, only asks to play. Initially, however, the sporting performance portends a positive future with two goals and two assists in the first five games. But this good shape doesn’t last, before the coronavirus pandemic freezes everything in the spring.
“I do not care”
The problems, in fact, begin right during the Champions League Final 8. With Rudi Garcia, the team manages to eliminate Juventus and sweep Manchester City to finally fail in the semifinals against Bayern Munich. Against these Bavarians there is a first break, against which “KTE” misses the many offensive situations it gets. Numerous criticisms against him on social networks.
His answer merges into the columns of The group: “People were more disappointed than happy, when they should have been happy for French football and for the club. (…) It was too much, especially towards me, moreover. When it’s me, missed opportunities, it’s me who lost, it’s OL who picked up, and when it’s PSG, it’s Neuer who’s been fantastic.” Above all, he adds: “The comments that have been made can destabilize a player. Instead, I don’t care.”
On occasion, his return to fitness suggests he can be a reliable asset, particularly in a position as an eccentric second striker rather than a winger. This is especially true in the fall of 2020, when he has seven goals and four assists in six games. Same feeling in the spring of 2022 when he scored five goals in four appearances, notably finding the net against Olympique de Marseille at the Vélodrome (0-3). Meanwhile, the former Sochalien also shows its technical limits and shows great irregularity.
The party of too many
Above all, Karl Toko-Ekambi is vengeful. At home against Montpellier last April (5-2 win), second break: the attacker goes there for his goal and exults with both hands behind his ears then a finger over his mouth. The bronca is immense until the end of the match. On social networks, Lyon fans also think they are reading the insults on his mouth. Behind the scenes, Jean-Michel Aulas tries to play firefighters: “The fans, by attacking the players, create a relationship of tension that becomes unbearable”. In vain.
In the end, the bond with the audience could never be (re)built. Especially since in the offensive sector many fans are hoping for a playing time for Rayan Cherki or even for Bradley Barcola.
In figures, OL’s Karl Toko-Ekambi has 38 goals and 19 assists in 114 games in all competitions. Could he do better in Rennes, especially if he stays there? “I know he’s having a difficult time in Lyon, I know the context and I tell myself that in a more reassuring context and where he will be more confident; we can revive him,” Bruno Genesio predicted on RMC. But as Walid Acherchour warned inAfter Foot, if this is the case, beware of history rewrites. In his presence, OL had the two worst seasons since 1996-1997.