French correspondent Jonathan Johnson reflects on the market moves in Ligue 1 after the transfer market sprang into life last week as PSG spent big. In his latest column he separates the done deals from the idle gossip.
By Jonathan Johnson - @Jon_LeGossip
Last Updated: 26/07/11 11:08am
As I mentioned in last week's column Paris Saint-Germain held the keys to the current transfer window and it was spectacularly re-opened on Monday as the capital club announced the impressive double signing of France internationals Jeremy Menez and Blaise Matuidi. With the signing of Valenciennes' centre-back expected to be confirmed shortly and the club in hot pursuit of Javier Pastore, it appears that PSG have breathed new life into this summer's transfer market.
Bowled over by the club's ambitions, the new arrivals were enthusiastic about moving to Paris and told the club's official website: "I did not hesitate to join PSG. This project is very interesting and the club must become one of the biggest in Europe," claimed Menez, before Matuidi added: "We are very happy to sign for the club. PSG is recognised worldwide but must compete at the highest levels in Europe to prove it."
Although activity between Ligue 1 and the Premier League has been limited of late, there is plenty of activity bubbling just below the surface and recent events in the capital might well have an impact on British shores very soon.
With PSG having moved to secure two of their primary transfer targets this summer, the club are apparently looking to offload attacker Mevlut Erding as they begin to restructure their squad. Linked with a host of big-name strikers including Mauro Zarate, Dimitar Berbatov and Diego Forlan, the Turkish international is seen as surplus to requirements at Parc des Princes and it is believed in France that Newcastle have launched a successful bid of €7.5million. Although he is believed to want to stay in Paris, Erding may not have a say in where he ends up this summer and is also believed to be in talks with Lille over a move.
Not content with their recent business, the capital club are one of two sides vying for the signature of Argentinean wonderkid Javier Pastore, the other suitors being Premier League heavyweights Chelsea. Having completed the signings of Menez and Matuidi, PSG's new Sporting Director Leonardo is believed to have approached Palermo with an offer of €40million having seemingly been rebuffed in his attempts to snare Brazilian wizard Ganso. Chelsea and PSG are now the favourites to sign Pastore according to Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini, but his vice-president Guglielmo Micciche believes the former are more likely to sign the youngster.
"He will very probably join Chelsea," Micciche told Sky Sports Italia.
Zamparini added: "The club that comes to us with a serious offer will take him. There are three or four important proposals and we'll exchange opinions and then go to England and France for negotiations."
If Chelsea were to lose out then Andre Villas-Boas would surely firm up his interest in Tottenham's Luka Modric. However, if the Blues do sign the Argentine where does that leave the Croatian following his public row with Spurs?
PSG already have an alternative to Pastore lined-up in case this happens and he fell into their lap last week. Sochaux's France international midfielder Marvin Martin, who has attracted interest from Arsenal in recent times, admitted to RMC Radio that he would consider any forthcoming offer from les Parisiens and announced that he would like to leave the provincial club should any suitable offer be received.
"If there is a good offer, I would like to leave. I have been at Sochaux for 10 years and I have given a lot," he said "Am I attracted to PSG? Yes, of course. They are a great club and want to achieve great things. I would also like to remain in France."
The news will come as a further blow to Arsene Wenger, who not only identified Martin as a potential replacement for Samir Nasri, but also was frustrated in his efforts to sign Costa Rican U20 starlet Joel Campbell. Arsenal have now been usurped in the lead for his signature by Italian outfit Fiorentina and a French side who, according to whispers, are Lyon.
L'OL will also have a further role to play in this summer's transfer window as two of their players remain coveted by Premier League powerhouses. Liverpool are still keen on jet-heeled full-back Aly Cissokho whilst Spurs retain Harry Redknapp's long-standing admiration for classy winger Michel Bastos. Although new coach Remi Garde wants to keep both at Stade Gerland, chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has stated that the club's wage bill will be trimmed. All this amidst rumours that the club want to sign Auxerre's athletic midfielder Delvin N'Dinga following the club's injury-hit start to pre-season; it appears one of the two will be sacrificed.
In addition to Liverpool's interest in Cissokho, they also have been credited with a desire to sign Brest's promising young striker Nolan Roux and it would appear that the path is now clear as Schalke 04 withdrew from the bidding last week. The Germans were unable to reach a suitable compromise with the French club holding out for €7.25million, a fee that the Gelsenkirchen outfit were unwilling to meet. Rumours in France now suggest that Liverpool will re-emerge with a new bid to sign the youngster.
In other news Marseille's Burkina Faso international midfielder Charles Kabore has been linked with a move to England, with West Brom and Stoke City keen on his signature. However, he has also attracted interest from Italy's Fiorentina, who are believed to be keen on West Brom's Youssuf Mulumbu. It would appear that if the Congolese player were to join the Italians then Roy Hodgson will make his move for Kabore to replace him.Another Marseille player angling for a move to the Premier League is midfield general Lucho Gonzalez, who is actively looking to leave Didier Deschamps' side, despite being the club's player of the season in 2009/2010. Speaking to RMC Radio last week, his agent Federico Simonian claimed: "There is interest in Lucho from four teams, two English and two Italian. One of the clubs, an English one, is Champions League qualified."
The past week was a quiet one, even between the French sides as the pick of the bunch came from Lille who captured experienced former Monaco and Marseille full-back Laurent Bonnart on a free transfer. The move represents great business for Lille who continued their impressive rebuilding project following a number of key departures in the summer.
PSG's promising and versatile young full-back Tripy Makonda was allowed to join Brest in what might be a further sign of what to expect at Parc des Princes before the transfer window closes and Nancy signed Nantes' commanding Cameroonian goalkeeper Guy N'Dy Assembe. Midfielder Distel Zola also joined the Lorraine side from recently-relegated Monaco having spent last season on loan in Ligue 2 with Laval.
One move that did take place between Ligue 1 and the Premier League however was the transfer of Chris Mavinga from Liverpool to Rennes. The talented French U20 international left-back was on loan at Racing Genk last year and struggled to break into Liverpool's first team; leaving without making a single appearance in red. His stock remains high In France though and Rennes jumped at the opportunity to secure the youngster who was previously on the books of Paris Saint-Germain.
Speaking about his move to France Football he said: "I learnt a lot at Liverpool, most notably about attitude. I don't regret any choices I have made so far and I hope things will continue to progress at Rennes."
A move that will not be going ahead though is that of Queens Park Rangers' Adel Taarabt who has seen a 'dream' transfer to Paris quashed by the London club's board. Despite his desire to leave, the club rejected PSG's offer and announced that the player would be staying at the club for this season.
"I want to go to Paris but the QPR board are fed up with the situation. I will look forward to the Premier League season but I am disappointed because I wanted to come," he told L'Equipe. "It felt like fate would take me to PSG. Paris was a great opportunity."
With le Rouge-et-Bleu poised to announce the signing of Valenciennes' commanding centre-back Milan Bisevac shortly, the capital club are holding the cards regarding further transfer activity between England and France. Javier Pastore's transfer future should be decided in the coming days once he and Palermo officials return from talks in London and Paris. Should he sign for PSG then Chelsea will surely move for Modric, but if he decides to sign for the Blues then Spurs will find themselves in a sticky situation.
The signing of Blaise Matuidi by PSG dents Newcastle and Arsenal's plans to sign the midfielder and the Magpies may well now step up their interest in Toulouse's dynamic midfielder Moussa Sissoko as well as le Parisiens' Mevlut Erding. Jeremy Clement, also of PSG, now looks set to head to Saint Etienne to replace Matuidi whilst the club are said to be trailing a number of players to come in and provide competition for Nicolas Douchez as number one. Marco Storari of Juventus, Sebastien Frey of Fiorentina and Alexis Thebaux of Caen are reportedly the targets that Leonardo will now look to pursue.
Caen have also been in the news recently as it was rumoured that promising young striker M'Baye Niang is delaying the signing of a professional contract with the club, amidst interest from Manchester City and Spurs. Tottenham could also expect to be busy on the transfer front as Lyon's plans to sign Delvin N'Dinga look like they will be pushed forward forcing out either Michel Bastos or Aly Cissokho - putting both them and Liverpool on red alert.
Finally, Leicester expect to reunite Sven-Goran Eriksson with Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes in the coming week as the Saint-Etienne player is expected to join the Foxes on a season-long loan from the French side. The Swede made Fernandes one of his first signings when manager of Manchester City and the Switzerland international will be delighted to team up with his former mentor after a tough time in France.