FRANCE: Ligue 1 – Transfer Rumours Round-Up

France

Ligue 1 is in a constant state of flux at the moment, with big money being thrown around at the top end, and everyone else seemingly scrabbling around for loose change behind the sofa.  Several big stories are still to be resolved in the ongoing summer transfer window narrative, so with only a week of wheeling and dealing left to go, it’s time to take a look at the deals which could yet make an impact one way or another this season. Andrew Davidson discusses the latest whispers involving many English clubs like Newcastle United, Arsenal and West Ham.

Mamadou Sakho

Sakho was outstanding for the champions PSG last term, and it’s anyone’s guess what the French international is thinking now.  With Thiago Silva an ever-present alongside Alex, and Marquinhos coming into the squad, Laurent Blanc seems to have his preferred centre-back pairing sorted, leaving Sakho looking for a move.  The defender believes that in a World Cup year he needs to be playing regular football, and just doesn’t see that happening at the Parc des Princes.

The problem then, or one of many, is that Sakho’s current PSG deal expires at the end of this season.  With a few clubs interested, PSG would like to get the right price for their man, while the buying clubs will see no reason to pay over the odds when they negotiate to get the player for free in 6 months time.

For Sakho that leaves an anxious wait – showing his intentions to see out the remainder of his contract could well lead to being frozen out of the team entirely, and effectively kill off any chance of appearing for Les Bleus in Brazil.

The defender was subject to a bid from Liverpool earlier in the summer, which was rejected as unacceptable by the Paris club.  He was then offered to Milan and Napoli in the last week or so, with both clubs declining to make an offer, although the Milanese are known to hold an interest in the player.

Rumour has it that Milan will wait to find out the outcome of the 2nd leg of their Champions League qualifier with PSV before making a move.  Smart business sense from the Rossoneri, although reports this weekend suggest that England is now the players preferred choice – given that it could mean a quick resolution.

However things pan out, Sakho is in for a very long week….

Bafétimbi Gomis

A similar situation lies at the feet of another France international this week.  Lyon’s Bafétimbi Gomis will be looking forward to a big year as France prepare for the World Cup in Brazil, however a contract struggle and drawn out transfer saga may put paid to his squad place.

It seemed early in the window that things would be straight forward – Gomis wanted to leave, Lyon wanted a reduced wage bill, and plenty of interested parties were reported.  However, as the saga has rumbled on through the summer months, all sides have become less and less clear.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has stated that he does not wish to sell to Ligue 1 rivals Marseille, and that he prefers to deal with Newcastle.  The Magpies have been linked for Gomis numerous times in recent years, and see him as a perfect choice to partner Loic Remy up-front in their Francophiles dream team.

Much talk was made of the impending deal, however no confirmation came from either side, amid speculation that OM were being used to drive up the price.  Aulas went on record to state that he could see Gomis staying, and a new contract was put on the table.

Gomis himself however is reported to be resigned to leaving the club, and has his heart (if rumours can be believed) set on Tyneside.  Making it clear that he would not sign the contract extension, Gomis has been frozen out of the squad and was told in no uncertain terms by Aulas that he won’t play first-team football this year unless he signs.

This week the president has been quoted as saying “If OM meet the price of Bafe, anything is possible,” which is a definite switch in his stance from earlier in the summer.  It may be that he favours moving on Gomis for a price now, no matter what the destination, and saving money on wages that could be used to sweeten the pot for want-away star Yoann Gourcuff.

It will be interesting to see just where Gomis may end up when that window slams shut next week.  If he is at Lyon still, expect him to kiss and make up quickly and sign the extension – the player would surely rather be tied down to a longer deal than let his chance at a World Cup place go awry.

In Other News….

  • Yoann Gourcuff, the once touted “New Zizou”, has refused yet another contract extension offer from OL, and may well still leave the club this summer.  Lille were mentioned earlier in the window as a possible destination, and Newcastle (as with every available Frenchman) have been linked of late.  It remains to be seen what Gourcuff’s plans are, and if he would consider offers from either club.
  • Yohan Cabaye, subject of a bid by Arsenal in mid-week, is apparently a target for Blanc’s PSG.  Blanc is said to be an admirer of the player, and a fee of £17 million has been touted, although Newcastle owner Mike Ashley reportedly asked Arsenal to “come back with at least £20m” this week.  No confirmation has been forthcoming from the Paris club on the rumours, and it remains to be seen where Cabaye would fit into an already talented midfield.  However, Blanc was quoted this week saying if the club can get rid of a few fringe players they may look to sign “one or two players of quality”.
  • Rennes striker Mevlut Erding, scorer of a sumptuous solo effort already this season, is the subject of attention from Lyon, Lille and St-Etienne, according to reports
  • Nice coach Claude Puel has spoken once again of PSG defender Mathieu Bodmer, stating that a new defender was his main priority for the remainder of the transfer window.  The players’ wages, however, may well be a stumbling block.
  • Jires Kembo Ekoko would reportedly be interested in a move to Marseille, with rumours his club Al Ain have offered him up…
  • However, OM are more likely to move for Lille’s Florian Thauvin who returned to training this week following an injury.  The highly-rated youngster has been linked with numerous clubs, including Newcastle United, and is said to be living in a hotel in Lille and not finding it easy to settle in the area.
  • Sevilla’s Geoffrey Kondogbia has expressed his desire to leave Spain, with Monaco said to be negotiating a deal with the club.  Arsenal were in advanced stages of negotiations until recently, however the Spanish clubs asking price was too high in the end.  The club would want the full buy-out clause of €20 million, plus taxes of up to €11 million under Andalucian laws.
  • St-Etienne had an offer for Modibo Maiga turned down by Sam Allardyce at West Ham.  The loan offer was rejected and the player started for The Hammers in the league this weekend.
  • Reports say that Arsene Wenger made contact with Auxerre regarding the attacking player Paul-Georges Ntep.  The Gunners boss made his interest known, however no offer has been made.
  • Valencia’s Pablo Piatti has again been heavily linked with Rennes, with the clubs said to have agreed a deal.  The sticking point appears to be that the player does not wish to move.

Andrew Davidson

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