Jason Denayer has told his Lyon teammates they must “wake up mentally” if they are to keep themselves in the Ligue 1 Uber Eats title race and secure UEFA Champions League football for next season.
Lyon have scored just a single win in their last five league games to drop down to fourth place — outside France’s Champions League qualifying places — and Lille and Paris Saint-Germain already having won this weekend, Rudi Garcia’s men are in danger of losing touch with the title pretenders.
Third-placed Monaco are a point ahead of OL before the principality side takes on bottom club Dijon on Sunday afternoon meaning Lyon will know all of their rivals’ results before Sunday evening’s home game with Angers.
Following their shaky penalty shoot-out win over third division Red Star in Thursday’s Coupe de France tie and their patchy league form, Denayer knows something has to change.
“It’s in difficult times that you see true mental strength, so it’s up to us to push ourselves and do better than we are right now. We have to wake up mentally, it’s important that no one gives up,” said the Belgium international centre-back. “We have to keep believing and we’re still in the race. Before Red Star, we weren’t up to scratch in training. We have to get back on track quickly. I think there has been a little bit of a drop-off mentally.”
Denayer, 25, has become a staple in the Lyon first team since his 2018 arrival from Manchester City on a four-year deal that is due to expire at the end of the 2021/21 campaign. The former Sunderland, Celtic and Galatasaray defender is keen to prolong his stay at the Groupama Stadium.
“We’re having good discussions [on a contract extension] with OL,” he said. “We’re trying to reach agreement and it’s going very well. It would be a great pleasure for me to stay at the club, I feel really good here. OL had confidence in me and enabled me to be stable. So it’s normal to repay that.”