Who is Malo Gusto and why are Chelsea loaning him back to Lyon?

Malo Gusto poses after signing for Chelsea from Lyon.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Malo Gusto has just completed his transfer to Chelsea from Lyon, signing for the Premier League side for a fee that could rise to £31 million if all add-ons inserted into his contract are met. 

Signing a seven-and-a-half-year deal, Chelsea have now loaned Gusto back to Lyon to complete this campaign ahead of permanently joining in the summer. 

"The defender will now continue his impressive progress on loan [at Lyon] before joining up with the Blues in the summer ahead of the new campaign," Chelsea said in a statement.

A 19-year-old right-back, Gusto came through the academy at Lyon before making his senior professional debut for the club in January 2021, coming on for Bruno Guimaraes in a 5-0 away win against Saint-Etienne. 

He had to wait until the 2021/22 season to really stamp his authority on the first team, though, as he made 30 appearances for Lyon in Ligue 1. Indeed, his prominence at right-back meant established figure Leo Dubois left for Galatasaray in the summer of 2022, eager to find more opportunities for game time. 

Quick and athletic, Gusto also has a strong eye for a pass, evidenced by the fact he managed four assists in the league last season. While he has managed just one this time around, the 19-year-old is certainly a promising young player with bags of potential. 

Why are Chelsea loaning back Malo Gusto to Lyon?

Malo Gusto of Lyon applauds the fans after the Ligue 1 match between Lyon and Troyes on 19 August, 2022 at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon, France.

(Image credit: Leandro Amorim/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

With Reece James still out injured, it seems loaning back Malo Gusto to Lyon is counterproductive for Chelsea's season. After all, Gusto could've slotted straight in at right-back or right wing-back for the remainder of the campaign and helped Chelsea turn around their dismal form.

However, it seems Lyon would only agree to the sale of Gusto if a club agreed to loan him back to the French outfit until the end of the 2022/23 season.

Indeed, Lyon head coach Laurent Blanc previously said the board had guaranteed to him that Gusto would stay at the club for the rest of the season.

"The board have guaranteed to me that (Rayan) Cherki and Malo Gusto will be here until the end of the season," Blanc told reporters. 

With Gusto highly sought after, too, Chelsea decided the best course of action was to adhere to Lyon's demands, save losing him to a rival in the summer.  

Reece James is also expected to return to the Chelsea starting line-up soon as well. While he has been out with a recurring knee injury, first picked up in a Champions League game against AC Milan at the San Siro in October, the 23-year-old is reportedly in contention to return as early as the upcoming Premier League weekend of fixtures.

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.