Who's moving where as the close of the transfer window peeps over the horizon in Ligue 1?
By Jonathan Johnson - @Jon_LeGossip
Last Updated: 23/08/11 10:02am
The transfer window is now approaching its final week and a number of deals between French and British clubs have yet to be concluded. Although a handful of moves went through last week involving Premier League players, there are still some unresolved issues. With PSG looking set to dip back into the transfer market again before the close of the window, their activity could again cause a chain reaction for other clubs.
The saga surrounding Sochaux striker Modibo Maiga's move to Newcastle has taken a fresh twist following his refusal to play again in Sunday's match against Nancy. The Mali international has been the subject of interest from the North East outfit in recent weeks and having made himself unavailable for Sochaux's previous match, a home defeat to Caen, he repeated his tactic this weekend in order to try and force through a move.
Sochaux are reported to be unwilling to discuss his future but with the player's links with the club damaged beyond repair, les Lionceaux will be looking to resolve his future as soon as possible in order to bring in a replacement. Alan Pardew retains his interest in the player despite the drawn-out pursuit of his signature and recently spoke about his efforts to sign him: "We have made a bid. We can't condone the player's actions, what he's doing, but we would like to see him at Newcastle."
However, those comments were before Newcastle got drawn into the middle of a tapping-up row which emerged in the French press on Monday morning. Sochaux chairman Alexandre Lacombe has spoken out regarding the ongoing Maiga situation and indicated that Newcastle have been underhand in the way they are dealing with the transfer.
Speaking to L'Est Republicain Lacombe said: "Newcastle are continuing to contact our players despite our refusal to talk. We will register a complaint to Uefa telling them such behaviour is not fair play. It is destabilising the team."
In addition to the rumoured €10million bid the Magpies have made for Maiga, the club have now made Lyon left-back Aly Cissokho a 'priority' signing according to mercato365.com and the French outlet expect a deal to be announced this week. Another player at the centre of interest from Premier League sides is Rennes' talismanic midfielder Yann M'Vila. The highly-rated France international has been the subject of intense interest from Chelsea in recent weeks and reports in France on Monday suggest that Arsenal have now joined the chase and actually tabled a bid.
The rumoured transfer to Chelsea was reported to be worth €30million so the €12million figure touted regarding Arsene Wenger's bid seems well below any price the Breton outfit would consider. M'Vila recently extended his contract with the club and announced that he would be staying for at least another year and this is a stance reflected by the board's hierarchy.
Pierre Dreossi, Rennes' general manager told L'Equipe: "I don't know anything about a bid. Yann has extended his contract with us so a departure is not relevant. He has started the season with us and he will finish it with us. That is very clear."Another player who has been linked with Arsenal recently is Marseille's Mathieu Valbuena. It would appear they are prepared to let the talented midfielder go though as l'OM's Sporting Director Jose Anigo told RMC Radio: ''When a player has spent five or six years at a club, out of respect for him, nothing is closed. We are very pleased with him, but if a big club is interested in Mathieu, we will listen.''
Although it was still relatively quiet last week in terms of concrete transfers between France and Britain, Rangers caused a bit of a stir with the surprise announcement that they had secured the signing of Saint-Etienne left-back Carlos Bocanegra. Rangers announced the deal last week and rushed through the player's details so that he was able to join up with their Europa League party ahead of Thursday's clash with Maribor.
Bocanegra revealed that the lure of joining the Scottish champions was too strong to resist. He said: "The move came as a surprise but the possibility of coming to Rangers and looking for titles and trophies is awesome. You don't get a chance to do that kind of thing too much in your career."
Another player who was on the move that will be familiar to Premier League fans is former Liverpool defender Djimi Traore. Mostly recently on the books of relegated outfit Monaco, the full-back has agreed a deal with Marseille and will be signed in the next few days pending a medical. Traore was a member of the famous Liverpool side that won the 2005 UEFA Champions League in Istanbul, becoming the first Malian to ever win the tournament in the process.
The rest of the French transfer news in this past week has been dominated by talk of those definitely not making moves, as a number of doors have been shut regarding potential deals. Marseille's wantaway Argentine midfield general Lucho Gonzalez has seen a loan bid from Arsenal rebuffed by his employers, who are now reluctant to release him given his return to form and strong start to the season.
Speaking in a news conference, l'OM manager Didier Deschamps confirmed Arsene Wenger's interest in the midfielder: "I spoke to him and the one that really interests them is Lucho Gonzalez. Wenger believes that he is a great player who could be useful to his team although he doesn't fit in with his recruitment policy. He wanted him on loan but it was not acceptable to us so there are no negotiations."
Another player who has been denied a potential move across the channel, albeit in the other direction, is Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov. PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed to France Football that the capital club's interest in the mercurial Bulgarian was real but that a bid has been knocked back by Sir Alex Ferguson. Speaking after PSG's 2-1 victory over Valenciennes on Sunday he said: "I had Ferguson on the phone but he told me that he was counting on Berbatov and that he was not for sale."
One other potential move across the channel that was halted last week was Lenny Nangis' proposed move to Manchester United. The talented youngster who currently plays for Normandy outfit Caen is only 17 and has decided to pen a new deal at the club despite attracting heavy interest from a clutch of top European sides. His performances in the U17 World Cup recently gained him many admirers but he insists his immediate future lies in France.
Now contracted to the club until 2014, the player told French media: "I was flattered by the interest shown in me by all of those big teams including Manchester United but it is better for me to learn my football here. United or another big team would have been a big step for me at this moment but I still need to finish my learning process. I'm in no hurry to go abroad and I think after three years in French football I'll be ready to move on."
The remainder of this transfer window now looks set to be dominated by PSG after the club confirmed their interest in adding a new defender, rumoured to be Arsenal target Per Mertesacker of Werder Bremen, to the squad following a recent spate of injuries and Leonardo's confirmation that striker Mevlut Erding can leave the club.
Speaking to L'Equipe, the Brazilian confirmed that the front-man's time in Paris is up providing they can find an adequate replacement. "His situation is clear. He asked to speak to us and we told him he can leave. He was told clearly that it will happen only if we have another solution. We have time and we will not hurry."
This news comes days after it was revealed that Rennes have an agreement, in principle, to sign the striker which will come as a blow to Newcastle's interest. However, this transfer could hold the key to a late flurry of activity and could have a knock-on effect on a number of European sides. PSG have recently been linked with Diego Milito of Inter Milan, Diego Forlan of Atletico Madrid as well as Espanyol's Pablo Osvaldo and a move for any of these players could trigger some big European transfers. A move for Milito could see Forlan join Inter whereas a bid for Forlan could see Osvaldo head for Madrid. A move for Osvaldo could see Birmingham City's Nikola Zigic signed by the Spaniards as a replacement.
Another exciting rumour that has surfaced this week is that Leonardo has been working hard to convince Real Madrid's former World Player of the Year Kaka to join his French revolution. However, when quizzed on these rumours in an interview with Marca in Spain, the midfielder claimed: "My plan is to remain with Real Madrid and to obtain the confidence of Jose Mourinho."
Another player expected to move is Tottenham target and promising youngster El-Hadji Ba of Ligue 2 Le Havre. The midfielder who currently plays in the team's reserves has impressed at youth level internationally. Harry Redknapp is believed to be on the verge of sealing a deal for the latest product of a very successful youth academy.