French correspondent Jonathan Johnson reflects on the market moves in Ligue 1 as Javier Pastore is presented to the PSG faithful.
By Jonathan Johnson - @Jon_LeGossip
Last Updated: 16/08/11 9:12am
Ligue 1 kicked off this weekend with some surprising results as recruitment within France continued, albeit at a slower pace. There are though still a number of France-based players in the news regarding transfers involving both Ligue 1 and Premier League clubs.
PSG finally completed the signing of Javier Pastore on Saturday evening and unveiled him to the thronging masses waiting for a glimpse of the most expensive signing in French football history amidst a carnival atmosphere at Parc des Princes. Despite the rain lashing down, the Argentine was brought on to the pitch to a chorus of deafening adulation as the PSG faithful welcomed their new star and it was an experience that the 22-year old will never forget.
Pastore won't be available for selection until September following his involvement in this summer's Copa America and the signs after Saturday's defeat to Lorient suggest that he is much needed in the centre of a Parisien midfield that lacked creativity against les Merlus.
Another transfer that was of interest to sets of fans both sides of the channel last week was that of Steed Malbranque to Saint-Etienne. A former Lyon player, the Frenchman joins les Verts-Lyon's arch-rivals-on a two-year deal and will add some much needed presence to their midfield. Although he didn't play this weekend, ASSE enjoyed a fine 2-1 victory at Bordeaux.
Over in England, Newcastle's capture of Gabriel Obertan possibly signals the end of the club's interest in PSG's Mevlut Erding.
Bordeaux's left-winger Wendel is close to signing for Saudi Arabia's Al-Ittihad FC of Jeddah. The deal is believed to be worth €1.7million and the 29-year old has reportedly agreed a long-term contract following the breakdown of his proposed move to Saint-Etienne. Fabrice Abriel also made a move as the creative midfielder joined Nice from Marseille. The 32-year-old has played for a host of other French sides including PSG and Lorient and joins a team already spoilt for options in the middle of the park.
As has been the custom over the past few weeks, transfer gossip dominated headlines in both France and England more than actual transfer dealings. Of particular interest to EPL fans will the admission by Toulouse's Moussa Sissoko that he would be open to a move to an English club. Recently linked with Liverpool and Newcastle as well as big-spenders PSG, the player spoke to L'Equipe about his future.
He said: "If I had the opportunity to go, I would have left as PSG has a great project. Considering my style, if I did not leave for Paris I would favour the Premier League. It is up to me now to work hard and find a new club next year."
Another player of interest to both PSG and Premier League sides is Neymar who has been courted by Chelsea and Manchester United recently. Speaking in Brazil, the Santos President Luis Alvaro de Oliveira told radio show Al Primer Toque of the interest from PSG and of his intention to keep the youngster at the club.
"We do not want to sell him, at the earliest, until next year," he said, before adding: "Neymar is not only wanted by Madrid, he is of interest to Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus and PSG. This is normal. However, we want him to fulfil his contract with us."
Michel Bastos of Lyon, the subject of long-running transfer speculation and interest from Tottenham has claimed that he has not asked for transfer amid stories that he is looking for an improved contract at the club. OL chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has indicated that he would be willing to sell a number of high-earning stars whilst new manager Remi Garde is desperate to keep the Brazilian winger. However, the club's move for talented Auzerre midfielder Delvin N'Dinga hinges on their ability to cut the wage bill and any deal that may be forthcoming for the in-demand star.
Another player who has been subject of long-standing interest from the Premier League is Turkish striker Erding of Paris-Saint Germain. He has recently been linked with a move to Bordeaux as they search for a striker to solve their goalscoring problems following a disappointing start to the season. Les Girondins were recently rebuffed in their attempts to sign Monaco striker Park Chu-Young and it is understood that they have jumped to the front of the queue for Erding.
Another player who has been subject to intense speculation recently is Marseille's Charles Kabore, who is reportedly the subject of a €4million bid from Stoke City. Not part of OM's regular first team due to the prolonged stay of Lucho Gonzalez, Didier Deschamps admitted recently that he would have to consider selling the player if an offer came in, despite being a fan of the Burkina Faso international.
One of the more interesting transfer stories last week linked out-of-favour Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole with a move to moneybags PSG. However, the story appears to have limited credibility in France and there are no sources that believe a deal is in the offing. Those same sources believe that a deal taking Brest's Nolan Roux to Anfield is now unlikely. The talented French youngster played in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Evian and has recently insisted that he will not drag his feet if he does not secure a move away.
Speaking to L'Equipe he said: "I experienced a difficult period, but I have come to my senses. I have decided to train again and I am not against the idea of staying here for one more season." He then added: "It is difficult. I had an agreement with Schalke, but it has not been sorted out and I don't know if it will be. If I have to stay, I will be no trouble."
In other rumours, ex-Chelsea midfielder Miroslav Stoch has been linked with a move to Lille from Turkish side Fenerbahce, who could rapidly lose a number of players following the ongoing scandal rocking Turkish football. Also, West Ham's bid for Eric Mouloungui was rejected by Nice last week. The side from the Cote D'Azur have limited attacking options currently and are unwilling to part with their first choice striker for an offer that did not meet the club's valuation.
Expected Business in the Coming Days:
With the Ligue 1 season now underway French sides will be hoping to complete their final transfer dealings as soon as possible so that their sides are complete and can concentrate on the current campaign. Although Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed that Dimitar Berbatov is not for sale despite his admission to French television last week that he could see the Bulgarian playing for PSG, sources insist that a deal is still a very real possibility and this week might see some serious movement in the case of this transfer.
In other news concerning the capital club, Ganso who is currently the subject of a bid from Sporting Director Leonardo, expects to stay at Santos for the time being. The deal proposed last week is believed to meet the player's buyout clause however; the snag is thought to be the club and player's insistence on staying in Brazil until January after the FIFA Club World Cup.
Newly-promoted Evian are reportedly in talks with Saint-Etienne's Jeremie Janot over a transfer but rumours suggest that they may move for current free agent and former German international Timo Hildebrand. The custodian is believed to be deep in talks with the newly-promoted outfit following an unsuccessful spell in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon. Another rumour in Ligue 1 is Marseille's recently-confirmed interest in AC Milan's Antonio Cassano. OM could tie a deal up this week for the unpredictable Italian international playmaker.