Skip to main content

Rose indicates Leipzig is on the verge of signing French defender Lukeba

France Castello Lukeba - Getty Images

LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) — Leipzig signed French defender Castello Lukeba from Lyon on Friday as the German club reinvests some of the money it made from selling Joško Gvardiol to Manchester City.

The 20-year-old Lukeba built his reputation as one of the top young defenders in France by playing 58 games in the top division for Lyon since his debut in 2021, and six more in the Europa League.

He arrives on a five-year contract. Lyon said the deal was worth 34 million euros ($37 million) including possible add-on fees, plus 20% of the profit on a future sale. That's just over a third of the fee Leipzig reportedly received for Gvardiol.

Lyon said Lukeba had told the French club's American owner John Textor that he would refuse to sign a new contract — it had two years remaining — and so the club opened talks on a sale.

The signing continues Leipzig's focus this off-season on signing a string of promising young players to replace first-team regulars like Gvardiol, Dominik Szoboszlai, who was sold to Liverpool, and Christopher Nkunku, who departed for Chelsea.

“I’m joining an exciting team and a club with lots of ambition," Lukeba said in a club statement. "RB Leipzig stands for a particular style of football and for a constant upward journey. This is a great place for young players to develop at the highest level, as a number of French players have already proven in the past.”

Speaking earlier Friday before the signing was confirmed, Leipzig coach Marco Rose said Lukeba was “a really good, ambitious central defender who has a big future, someone who has proved a lot already in Lyon."

Rose added that Lukeba already combines well with Leipzig defender Mohamed Simakan from their time together as the central defense pairing on the French team at the European Under-21 championship in June and July.

Leipzig already signed another young French defender in 18-year-old El Chadaille Bitshiabu from Paris Saint-German, but he could be out injured for months after damaging a knee ligament soon after arriving.

Of the nine players who have joined Leipzig on loan or permanent deals this off-season, all but one of them — a backup goalkeeper — are aged 23 or under.

Leipzig plays Bayern Munich on Saturday in the German Super Cup.

For Lyon, it's by far the biggest transfer in or out of the club since French soccer's financial watchdog started monitoring its finances last month, a move which limited its ability to make new signings.


AP soccer: