French correspondent Jonathan Johnson reflects on the market moves in Ligue 1 after the transfer market sprang into life last week. In his latest column he focuses on Premier League interest in France-based talent.
By Jonathan Johnson - @Jon_LeGossip
Last Updated: 28/06/11 9:54am
After the excitement and high level of activity during last week's French football transfer window it's no surprise it's been a bit quieter over the past seven days. Despite no players moving between the leagues, there were still plenty of rumours linking English clubs with prospective French talent and a handful of moves expected to be completed imminently.
Firstly, Liverpool are currently in discussions with Brest over their pacy, young forward Nolan Roux. Only 23-years-old and bearing a striking resemblance to one Fernando Torres, the youngster is a bright young prospect in French football. Quick, clever and with a great sense of positioning, Kenny Dalglish looks set to bag a bargain. However, Schalke have also entered the race for his signature and tabled a bid.
Newcastle United have again been splashed across the back pages of French newspapers as they have reportedly tabled a €7.5million offer for Paris St Germain's mercurial Turkish striker Mevlut Erding. The Magpies have also been linked again to Toulouse's pacy full-back Cheikh M'Bengue who is also on the wish-list of last season's champions Lille.
Although he was expected to complete his transfer to Arsenal this week, Gervinho is still with the Pas-de-Calais side. The two sides are understood to be close to a deal but the Ivorian's switch to the Premier League is proving to be rather drawn out. Deep-lying playmaker Blaise Matuidi, last week linked with Newcastle, is also apparently of interest to Arsenal as Arsene Wenger looks to complete a double raid on Ligue 1. The youngster has welcomed the Gunners' interest and confirmed his desire to play in England.
"I am flattered by the interest from clubs abroad and I have always loved the Premier League. It is the best league in the world and I really want to be part of that," he said.
Stephane Ruffier, Monaco's captain and goalkeeper has been linked with a move to Aston Villa. The France international is believed to be considering his future with Les Monegasques after their demotion to Ligue 2. So too is striker Park Chu-Young and it is believed he has been told he can leave the Principality outfit. The subject of interest from Liverpool, Tottenham, PSG and Rennes, the South Korean could be heading across the Channel very soon.
Cedric Mongongou, also of Monaco, is thought to be high on the wish lists of both West Brom and Stoke. The strong, athletic centre-back is also coveted by a host of French sides but is believed to be keen on a move to England.
Another player who could join him in England is Moussa Sissoko, the tenacious and energetic Toulouse defensive midfielder is thought to be interesting new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, according to French media reports. However, Liverpool and Newcastle are also chasing him. Ex-Chelsea player Lassana Diarra is another Frenchman who could be turning out in the EPL next season after falling out of favour at Real Madrid. There is no shortage of interest in the talented central midfielder and Manchester United, Manchester City and Spurs are all thought to be keen on him.
However, one player who does not look set to move to England is Sochaux's exciting attacking midfield talent Ryad Boudebouz. The Algerian youngster has confirmed his desire to play for Les Lionceaux next season before moving on, despite a bid from Liverpool.
"They are a big club and there has been contact," the player told L'Est Republicain of the interest, and then added: "If there's a big money offer, perhaps it will be impossible to say no. I don't want, at all costs, to leave Sochaux, but if there's an offer, I'll think about it."
Ligue 1's domestic transfer window was busy last week with a string of sides making new signings.
Firstly, Lyon finally sacked Claude Puel after a meeting between the French Professional League and the club found that l'OL had grounds to dismiss the coach. He has been replaced by the club's head of youth academy Remi Garde who played under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal between 1996 and 1999.
Another story making waves over this side of the Channel is the proposed transfer of Raphael Varane to Real Madrid. The Lens youngster had been expected to choose between Manchester United, Arsenal, PSG and Real but, after consulting the player, Lens chairman Gervais Martel decided to make a decision to aid Varane's career and accept only PSG and Real's offers, claiming they are more likely to give the 18-year-old the first-team football he craves.
"It wasn't a question of money for us," Martel revealed in an interview. He then added: "Lens would have got more money if he'd gone to England, but I have to think about the player's career. With all the competitions Real will be playing I'm sure he'll play."
Promising French defender Sebastien Corchia is also on the move, he completed a transfer to last season's surprise package Sochaux from Le Mans for €2.5 million. The confident U21 international full-back had been expected to move on after their failure to bounce straight back into Ligue 1. Les Lionceaux quickly followed this up with the signing of winger Sebastien Roudet from recently-relegated Lens. The 26 year-old is expected to replace the departing Nicolas Maurice-Belay. The exciting and creative attacking midfielder has joined previous manager Francis Gillot at Bordeaux.
Toulouse have been busy signing Serbian defender and former Red Star Belgrade captain Pavle Ninkov and versatile Tunisian left-sided full-back Aymen Abdennour. They are also reported to have signed prolific Turkish hitman Umut Bulut from Trabzonspor for €3.5 million but this has yet to be confirmed.
Lille have moved to replace the departing Adil Rami by snapping up strong centre-back Marko Basa from Lokomotiv Moscow. The Serb, familiar with manager Rudi Garcia from their days together at Le Mans, will be a formidable presence in defence. His purchase has been supplemented by the permanent transfer of David Rozehnal which is expected to be confirmed shortly.
Lorient have entered the market again, securing midfielder Mathieu Coutadeur from Monaco whilst former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle will make a return to France by joining St Etienne on loan, ending his miserable spell in Portugal. Another transfer that is expected to happen in the following days is the completion of Ederson's transfer from Lyon to Lazio. The player is believed to have agreed terms but the clubs are still thought to be debating the fee.In addition to these transfers, some rare stories linking Premier League players with moves to France have emerged over the past week. Dimitar Berbatov has again been linked with PSG, Wilson Palacios is also thought to be a target of the club along with newly-promoted QPR'S Adel Taarabt and Arsenal's Gael Clichy. Reports in France claim that Les Parisiens have made bids for all three players and that their respective clubs are considering the offers, with Arsenal also fielding an enquiry from Roma regarding France international Clichy.
Tottenham's Younes Kaboul has also been linked with a return to France. Lyon are looking to boost their defence ahead of next season and Kaboul is reported to be their prime target. Also, the annual Didier Drogba to Marseille rumour has surfaced although this year it may have more credence. The Ivorian is currently part of a Chelsea side that will be overhauled by new tactician Villas-Boas and Drogba may be moved on, with l'OM a possible destination.
PSG again dominated the French transfer rumours and have been linked with a host of potential new signings but it was also revealed by Lille general manager Frederic Paquet that les-Rouges-et-Bleu had submitted a bid for star winger Eden Hazard that was immediately knocked back. Les Dogues have since revealed that the Belgian revelation will be staying for at least one more season to continue his development.
Another player linked with the capital club is Jeremy Menez. The Roma winger has spoken of his desire to leave the Italian capital and, when quizzed on the interest from PSG, he appeared open to the move.
"The project that has been started at PSG is one that pleases me," the player told France Football. He then added: "I do not see a return to Ligue 1 as a step back from Serie A. If they have the means to become a big team, it could be interesting for me to come and play in Paris."
The club are vying for the services of AC Milan's Mathieu Flamini, while they have also been linked with Valenciennes stopper Milan Bisevac following Sammy Traore's departure. A long-time admirer and former manager of the Serb, Kombouare is expected to firm up his interest shortly and VAFC are bracing themselves for a bid.
Elsewhere, Lyon have been linked with Congolese midfielder Delvin N'Dinga as Remi Garde searches for a new partner for Yoann Gourcuff, who has yet to make an impact at Stade Gerland since his move last year. Marseille have also been the subject of speculation, being linked with promising U21 France international goalkeeper Joris Delle of Metz, forward Bafetimbi Gomis of rivals Lyon, Barcelona striker Bojan and Youssef El-Arabi of Caen, who is yet to finalise his move to Genoa. Cesar Azpilicueta is also thought to be on the move as Malaga attempt to lure Marseille's Spanish full-back to join their ambitious project.
In place of the Moroccan, Caen have been linked with Lille's unsettled striker Pierre-Alain Frau whilst Lille have made a second bid for St Etienne's flying winger Dimitri Payet after the first bid was rejected. ASSE have been linked with PSG's Jeremy Clement as they prepare for life without Matuidi.
Montpellier have been linked with PSG's experienced centre-back Zoumana Camara as a possible replacement for Mapou Yanga-M'Biwa who is expected to move on this summer. PSG have been linked with the U21 international and a swap deal would not be too unlikely. Bordeaux are interested in Ajax's striker Mounir El-Hamdaoui as they still seek to adequately replace Marouane Chamakh and Rennes have been linked with Hamburg's pacy winger Jonathan Pitroipa.
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