Our Paris-based correspondent Jonathan Johnson scours the French press and quizzes his own sources to deliver up-to-the minute transfer titbits from across the Channel.
By Jonathan Johnson - @Jon_LeGossip
Last Updated: 05/07/11 4:13pm
The third week of the French transfer window proved to be not dissimilar to the second as there were more rumours being spread than actual transfer deals going through.
Although, one player arrived in England from France and two went the other way so there is plenty to suggest further business between Ligue 1 and the Premier League may be just around the corner.
A number of eyebrows were raised in France on Friday when it was revealed that a promising youth international was departing Lens for Newcastle United. Although no surprise to anyone that the Magpies were yet again raiding the French transfer market for talent, it was disappointing that Lens, a club famed for their youth products, were unable to hold onto 18 year-old Mehdi Abeid until he broke through to the first team at the very least.
Largely unknown despite regular appearances for France's youth setup, Abeid is primarily a defensive midfielder and can play all across the middle of the park. Although not expected to feature in the first team yet, reserve team manager Peter Beardsley believes that Newcastle have snared a bargain.
"We are delighted to bring Mehdi to the club. He is a bright young talent and we think he has an exciting future ahead of him," he told the club's official website.
Two Premier League players have left England to return to France after disappointing seasons. Steven Mouyokolo of Wolves endured a tough campaign at Molineux that was hampered by injuries and has joined last season's surprise package Sochaux on loan and West Bromwich Albion's Abdoulaye Meite has joined newly-promoted Dijon on a free transfer after frustrating year.
Speaking about the move to the club's official website, he said: "t's a beautiful project that Dijon have offered me. It is very interesting and I'm convinced that as things are we can do something good here."
Whilst that move completed the transfer dealings, plenty of rumours have linked French-based players with Premier League sides recently. One of the biggest stories last week was that Tottenham had bid €8million for Caen's tremendously talented 16 year-old striker M'Baye Niang. The youngster has also been the subject of interest from Manchester City recently.
When quizzed about his future, the youngster appeared to be keen on the move to Eastlands. "It is a dream to be linked with a team like that," he told skysports.com.
"I am a striker and I would learn a lot from playing with men such as Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Emmanuel Adebayor."
Another player to be linked with City is Lens full-back Serge Aurier who has also attracted interest from Blackburn Rovers this summer. However, the promising 18 year-old defender has declared that although he welcomes Premier League interest, his priority remains to stay in Ligue 1.Recently he told skysports.com: "I want to have more experience before leaving for a foreign country. I want to play in Ligue 1 and progress, the priority for me is not moving abroad."
Real Betis' Achille Emana has been courting interest from a host of English and French clubs with Spurs, Newcastle, Everton and Wigan vying with Lille and Marseille for the Cameroon international's signature. The tenacious midfielder is believed to be unhappy in Seville and an English side, widely believed in France to be Newcastle, have had an opening bid rejected.
Toulouse's in-demand midfielder Moussa Sissoko was also believed to be a target for the Magpies along with Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Inter Milan. However, following his agent's claims that both Premier League outfits were in advanced negotiations with the player, Newcastle have since ruled themselves out of the bidding.
Another player supposedly on the verge of a switch to England has been Lille's Gervinho, but last week reports in France emerged suggesting that there was actually no deal in place yet to take the Ivorian to the Emirates and that talks are progressing slower than hoped.
Les Dogues' chairman Michel Seydoux admitted to RMC Radio that Gervinho has chosen to join the Gunners: "We know that he has a personal interest in joining Arsenal," he said. "But it is expected that the negotiations will take some time."
However, one player who doesn't look like he will be coming to the Premier League this summer is Brest's Nolan Roux. The youngster was believed to be in talks with both Liverpool and Schalke 04 but reports in France suggest that he has chosen to join the Germans and the transfer could be completed later this week.
Other players set to shun the Premier League include Manchester City's Emmanuel Adebayor who has attracted the interest of Blackburn Rovers and Zenit St Petersburg, as well as Paris Saint-Germain. Despite the demand for his signature, the Togolese star admits he only has eyes for a permanent move to Madrid.
"I thank PSG for thinking of me but with all respect I will not go there" he told Ivorian newspaper The Patriot.
"At Real, I got a taste for what it's like winning a trophy but it is clear that I will not (win trophies) at Zenit or Blackburn either."
Queens Park Rangers' Adel Taarabt is another player inching towards the Premier League exit door as it emerged last week that PSG had made a formal offer for the Moroccan playmaker. The bid is believed to be in the region of £13.5 million and the capital club are now waiting to hear Rangers' answer. The player has also attracted interest from Chelsea and Arsenal recently. Middlesbrough's Didier Digard is also expected to leave for France and is set to finalise a permanent move to Nice where he spent last season on loan.
There has also been transfer activity involving a number of Ligue 1 clubs, with Lille being the busiest side. Last season's champions strengthened their squad considerably with the completion of deals for Saint-Etienne's livewire winger Dimitri Payet, former Newcastle defender David Rozehnal and Nigeria international goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Marseille were also busy with the signing of centre-back Nicolas N'Koulou and are due to complete the capture of current French national team captain Alou Diarra this week. Bordeaux have moved quickly to offset Diarra's loss by signing former Celtic mifielder Landry N'Guemo from Nancy and Toulouse also wrapped up the expected signing of prolific Turkish striker Umut Bulut as I reported last week.
However, the biggest transfer news in France last week was the coup pulled off by tiny Corsican outfit Ajaccio. On Wednesday their official club website had announced the signing of Mexican international goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa on a three-year deal, only to then remove the announcement amidst rumours that the player had pulled out of the transfer and was in talks with PSG. It seemed like the minnows had jumped the gun but the story then took a further twist on Friday when the club announced his signing for a second time, this time legitimately, although the transfer is still pending official release documents from the Mexican Football Federation.
With PSG having been snubbed in yet another attempt to sign a player they will be hoping that Leonardo's impending arrival this week signals the beginning of their new transfer policy. Although he was expected to be officially unveiled as the clubs new Sporting Director last week, his contract with Inter Milan was only terminated on Thursday and the announcement to make his appointment official is expected by Wednesday at the latest. The takeover of the club was fully ratified on Friday and the new owners are now looking to make a splash in the transfer window.
Sources in France suggest that Les Parisiens have been rebuffed in a bid to sign Belgian sensation Eden Hazard from Lille as they vie with Inter for his signature. It has been mooted that PSG launched a bid of €30million plus striker Mevlut Erding but Lille are looking for closer to €40million at least. Also, according to coach Rudi Garcia the rumours that the player wants to leave are untrue and the player is 'happy' at the club.
"I am not sure he wants to leave. He knows his status here and at a large club there is much more uncertainty" he told L'Equipe. He then added: "He will also play in the Champions League here."
Other rumours recently have claimed that PSG have bid for Valenciennes' Milan Bisevac although it is now believed that Schalke have stolen a march on them and are set to sign the Serb. The club have also been linked with a €50million bid for Javier Pastore of Palermo who is apparently Leonardo's number one target once he is in position.
With the French transfer window now entering into its fourth week, the clubs are back in pre-season training and will want to finalise any prospective moves soon as they prepare for the coming season. Expect more transfers and gossip from Ligue 1 in the very near future...