Paris-based correspondent Jonathan Johnson is back to deliver his verdict on who's heading where in Ligue 1's transfer window. There has already been plenty of contact between English and French sides regarding potential moves this month.
By Jonathan Johnson - @Jon_LeGossip
Last Updated: 10/01/12 11:08am
The January transfer window is now open and despite an absence of concrete moves there has already been plenty of contact between English and French sides regarding potential moves this month. Ligue 1 clubs have been more active than their Premier League counterparts so far but that could be set to change as a number of potential moves may spark a series of deals between the two leagues.
Transfers to Premier League and rumours:
Before the transfer window opened last week, Newcastle were expected to feature prominently in this month's transfer dealings and that has proved to be the case. Already this month the Magpies having been linked with a handful of French-based players as well as putting in concrete offers for some of Ligue 1's best talent.
Benjamin Corgnet of Dijon is a name that was close to the top of my list of most wanted Frenchmen in last week's column and it proved to be an accurate prediction. Alan Pardew wasted no time in sounding out DFCO about their star man but his interest was quickly rebuffed. Although accepting that Corgnet will not stay at the club past the end of the season, manager Patrice Carteron insists he is going nowhere whilst the side are in the midst of a relegation battle.
Speaking on RMC Radio the manager said: "We had a direct approach from Newcastle but Benjamin wants to continue to grow and play the full season in Ligue 1. At the end of the season he would be allowed to leave - Newcastle's offer was very high."
Corgnet is not the only player to see his name linked with Newcastle. Summer transfer target and Lyon left-back Aly Cissokho has once again been linked with the club and speculation has intensified of late and suggests that the Magpies are again chasing the young Frenchman.
In an interview with L'Equipe about the interest, the player said: "There is nothing concrete so far. I will talk with the technical staff this week. Since the last transfer market there have been a lot of rumours, but I haven't taken any notice. I am happy to be here."
Montpellier's Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is another player I predicted would become hot property in this winter's transfer window and again the Toon army have proved me correct. Their intense interest in the young, promising centre-back has created a lot of media interest in the player and more and more transfer stories and rumours are surfacing linked his name with bigger clubs.
However, one player who I did not expect to leave this month but appears to be talking his way into the shop window is Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda. Although not rushing for the exit door at the Velodrome just yet, the France international has expressed his desire to play football at the highest level in Europe. Although, he accepts that a move in the near future is unlikely. Whilst the talented keeper will probably remain in Provence until at least the summer, the former Le Havre youth product could be the sort of player that Arsene Wenger could be interested in.
Speaking to L'equipe he said: "My future? When you are ambitious, you want to be part of the biggest European clubs. But the transfer market for keepers is very complex. We saw that again last year. However, I am at a great club and happy here."
Yoann Gourcuff is another name that has been linked to Arsenal in the last few months but once the transfer window opened, Lyon patron Jean-Michel Aulas made it very clear that the talented playmaker is not for sale. The midfielder appears to be a player that Gunners manager Arsene Wenger appreciates a lot but OL are unwilling to part with the most expensive player in the club's history and expect him to regain his form and fitness ahead of Euro 2012 in France.
When questioned on the player's future recently Aulas said: "He will be staying here because with the Euros just around the corner, he'll have the stability to turn in an excellent season and get back on track. It would be an economic mistake to let him go now."
One deal that has already gone through but was not making many waves either side of the channel was Birmingham's extension of Guirane N'Daw's loan deal from Saint-Etienne. With the player's loan deal set to expire in January, the Championship outfit moved to extend that commitment until the end of the season.
Transfers to Ligue 1 and rumours:
Sides this side of the channel have been busier than their English counterparts so far this month and none more so than Paris Saint-Germain. Immediately linked with bids for AC Milan's Brazilian international Alexandre Pato and Real Madrid's Kaka, new manager Carlo Ancelotti moved to distance the club from his former players. However, according to rumours in France, he has made a move for CSKA Moscow's versatile attacking talent Keisuke Honda. Reports believe the bid is worth approximately €13million and the Japanese international would represent better value than the big money gamble it would take to bring a dwindling star like Kaka to the Parc des Princes.
Making moves on and off the pitch, Ancelotti has also reshuffled his backroom staff at the club and has brought in Paul Clement as his second assistant manager to work alongside Claude Makelele. Clement was most recently Steve Kean's number two at Blackburn but Ancelotti worked closely with him as a coach at Chelsea and wasted no time in bringing him to Paris.
Other recent rumours have thrown up some intriguing possibilities and two of those stories have centred on the capital club. Following Harry Redknapp's revelation over the weekend that Newcastle Striker Demba Ba's minimum fee release clause is close to €5million, a scramble for his signature could be set to ensue and it is one of which PSG could feel very confident of winning. Although the striker is now away on African Cup of Nations duty with Senegal, he recently admitted to being lured by the prospect of playing for his childhood team in the future.
Speaking to RMC Radio whilst on international duty with Senegal he said: "I have always supported PSG and it's a club that is enticing but it will be difficult to join them in January. My priority right now is success with Senegal."
If this move for Ba was to materialise before the end of January, the Magpies could then rekindle their interest in Sochaux's Modibo Maiga or PSG's Turkish striker Mevlut Erding who could be used in a part exchange. Erding has also been courting interest from Everton recently according to reports in France, despite his insistence that he wants to stay until the end of the season.
Another player who has been linked with the club in recent weeks is Manchester City's want-away striker Carlos Tevez. Although the Argentine is believed to prefer a move to AC Milan over any other destination, reports out of Italy suggest that les Rouges-et-Bleus will put a sizeable offer on the table should sporting director Leonardo's former club be unable to proceed with their potential deal. The bid is rumoured to be in excess of €35million but it is expected that Milan will be able to close out a deal, with PSG reported to be looking elsewhere.A potentially intriguing transfer battle between Arsenal and Marseille could be brewing according to whispers out of Belgium that have surfaced in France. Marseille and Arsenal are both understood to be chasing Anderlecht's 23-year-old wonderkid Matias Suarez and look set to go into battle for his signature later this month. Although the young striker is believed to be happy in Belgium, he has welcomed the interest and would relish a move to either club.
Speaking to Argentine press he said: "I do dream of a big transfer. There are two clubs interested, but if it does not happen this winter so be it."
Despite a lack of firm transfer activity in England, some French sides have already sprung into life during this transfer window and made a number of moves. Danish international Thomas Kahlenberg has ended his nightmare spell in Germany and made a return to France, joining Evian on loan for the rest of the season. There he joins ex-Liverpool player Christian Poulsen, Daniel Wass and Stephan Andersen as the club's Danish contingent. Ajaccio have sought to end their goalscoring woes and bolstered their frontline ahead of a difficult battle against relegation with the addition of speedy Brazilian striker Eduardo from Ligue 2's Lens.
Nancy made an ambitious triple swoop to address their pressing need for experience by adding talented winger Yohan Mollo on loan from Granada, Sebastien Puygrenier on loan from Zenit St Petersburg and Moustapha Bayal Sall, also on loan, from Saint-Etienne. Charlie Davies has returned from a season-long loan with DC United in MLS to revitalize Sochaux's striking depth with les Lionceaux facing an uphill battle to avoid the drop in the second half of the season. Finally, Gelson Fernandes has departed Saint-Etienne, once again on loan, this time for Udinese in Italy.
With potential completed deals at a premium, some movement is expected in the coming week but in the direction of Ligue 1 instead of the EPL. Chelsea's Gael Kakuta is expected to link-up with Dijon after Patrice Carteron persuaded the youngster to snub more appealing offers from elsewhere to join the club's battle against relegation. A deal is expected to be announced in the coming days.
Speaking on French television he said: "I made the choice to go to Dijon because I saw them play and they play good football. Coach Patrice Carteron convinced me to sign but talks are still going on."
Maurice Edu of Rangers could also be heading to Ligue 1, where he could be reunited with long-time friend Charlie Davies at Sochaux. The midfielder has been targeted by the club as the man they need to add some steel to their midfield and the US international's arrival would help aid Davies' re-integration into the club following a year away.
Finally, Lyon expect to announce the signing of United Arab Emirates international Hamdan Al Kamali shortly. The club's hierarchy have made it clear that despite their desire to trim the wage bill they are not prepared to lose any more quality on the pitch and will fund one or two new arrivals. Al Kamali would be the first UAE international to play in Europe and is believed to be looking forward to the challenge of playing for the French giants.
With transfer rumours and intriguing stories coming out of France regularly since the start of the transfer window, it is only a matter of time before business really gets underway both sides of the Channel. With French teams only just returning from winter training camps, expect plenty of activity to ensue over the coming weeks.