ZIMBABWE international striker Tino Kadewere is thrilled to achieve his ambition of playing for one of the top clubs in Europe after being officially unveiled by French giants Olympique Lyon on Tuesday to complete his €14 million transfer from Ligue 2 Le Harve.
The 24 year-old former Harare City player signed a four-and-a-half year contract with the Ligue 1 side during the January transfer window but was loaned back to Le Havre for the remainder of the 2019-20 season, which was officially cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After scoring 20 goals in 24 games to win the French Ligue 2 Golden Boot, the Warriors star arrives as a major addition for Rudi Garcia’s squad.
Kadewere was on the books of Harare City back in 2015.
He has enjoyed a meteoric rise in Europe which prompted Les Gones to sign him January, before allowing him to finish the Ligue 2 season on loan.
Speaking at his unveiling, the forward, who trained with his new club for the first time on Tuesday, thanked the Olympique Lyon leadership for its faith in him before expressing his delight to fulfil his goal of playing for a big European club.
“I am very happy to join Lyon. It’s a very big club, a club I dreamed of. I worked a lot to be able to sit in this place,” Kadewere said.
“I would like to thank the president (Jean-Michel Aulas), (sporting director) Juninho and (head of recruitment) Bruno Cheyrou who all facilitated my arrival. The players were very nice to me and integrated me directly into the group.”
Kadewere opened up on the qualities he will bring to the seven-time league champions.
“To be a good player, you have to be a team player. I have my own qualities, but I especially know how to blend into a collective side. I like to hold the ball. Growing up, I always had a ball between my feet. I’m also pretty quick. But again, the most important thing is to be a team player,” he said.
Kadewere, who also had a successful stint with the Swedish Allsvenskan with Djugardens before joining Le Havre, said he is looking forward to developing further in the French top-flight.
“My progress was very rapid and rather atypical. Very young, just after school, I signed in my first club, before going to Sweden, to Le Havre then finally to OL today. If you look at my choices, they stem from a personal development strategy. I take the plunge today because I feel ready.
“Many great players have passed through Lyon, such as Juninho, Benzema, Lacazette…It is a club which can help me in my progress and which I can help, thanks to my experience in Le Havre. The fact that I was top scorer in Ligue 2 allows me to arrive with confidence,” he said.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has hailed his new acquisition saying he has many qualities on an off the field to be a success at the club.
“We are very happy that Tino is here. It underwent a significant transfer in January. He stayed with Le Havre for six months and now arrives to strengthen the team that will start preparing for the Champion’s League and the League Cup final. He has many qualities, on and off the field. This is part of our selection criteria,” Aulas said.
“There was a lot of competition to integrate the group and Tino stood out. He was crowned top scorer in Ligue 2 last season and won a number of best player trophies last season. He is an international, a very strong element in his selection, we believe in him,” he added.
Aulas also highlighted that the Zimbabwean striker is already qualified to play in the remaining games of the 2019/20 season.
Normally, Kadewere would have to wait for the start of the 2020/21 season to make his debut but Aulas said he is eligible to play in the current campaign.
“Yes, Tino is qualified for the matches to come, including those for the end of the 2019-20 season,” he said.
The Ligue 1 club, who failed in their attempts to restart the cancelled Ligue 1 season on Tuesday, are still in the UEFA Champions League.