The transfer window closure is looming large. We look at who could make deadline-busting moves in Ligue 1.
All the transfer news and gossip from Ligue 1 as interest in French talent hots up
With only a few days left before the transfer window slams shut, a host of potential transfers concerning Premier League and Ligue 1 sides are on the verge of being resolved.
With more activity expected in the next few days, French sides are bracing themselves for fresh interest in their star players and the transfer rumour mill has gone into overdrive.
Last week it began to emerge that Lille had agreed a deal with Monaco to sign their South Korean striker Park Chu-Young and the transfer was set to be announced after the weekend when he had completed a medical. However, on Friday rumours began to surface suggesting that Arsenal had entered the race to sign the player; these whispers were then confirmed and it was revealed that he was in London having talks with the Gunners and was set to undergo a medical. These revelations were news to both Lille and Monaco who understood that the player was joining the defending champions and Les Dogues' president Michel Seydoux is irate that the striker is trying to engineer a separate move.
Speaking to L'Equipe
he said: "We haven't had a telephone call or anything. From what we understand he could be at Arsenal and like Monaco, we are baffled. Everything had been agreed upon and this type of behaviour is not acceptable and does not correspond with the spirit here at Lille."
Another rumour that had surfaced involving Lille at the end of last week was one involving prized winger Eden Hazard that linked him with a move to Arsene Wenger's side. Reports in France had suggested that the Belgian had been the subject of a €30million bid from the club and a number of British outlets began to run with the story too. However, photos from Saturday morning's training session proved that the player was still in France and the club reiterated that their stance from the beginning of the summer has not changed and the player is not for sale.
There is further disappointment for Arsene Wenger as another player who will not be moving to Arsenal is Lucho Gonzalez. The talented Argentine has decided to stay at Marseille for the rest of the season before making a move. The playmaker's future has been the subject of much speculation this summer as the player was vocal in expressing his desire to leave. However, the combination of a lack of interested suitors, an impressive individual start to the season and l'OM's attempts to keep the schemer have convinced the player that his short-term future lies in Provence.
Speaking to L'Equipe
, Marseille chairman Vincent Labrune said: "It is official, I held talks with Lucho on Friday night and I can confirm that he will remain with us this season." The player's agent Marcello Trapasso also confirmed the news and said: "We have found an agreement. Lucho stays."
It has become a recurring trend in recent weeks that players in Ligue 1 who have been linked with transfers decide to reject offers from abroad and stay put or move within France to avoid taking a chance overseas. Nice striker Eric Mouloungui has rejected persistent interest in his services from West Ham lately and knocked back another bid last week. Les Aiglons were believed to be willing to let the player go but he opted against the move and informed the club's hierarchy of his decision.
Centre-back Cedric Mongongou a recent target of Blackburn Rovers was on the move this week too as he left Monaco to join newly-promoted side Evian. The Ligue 1 debutants have enjoyed a solid start to the season and this signing should see them further strengthen their credentials with regards to retaining their place in the top-flight.
One player who could not resist the lure of playing in England however is Guirane N'Daw who has completed a loan switch until January. The strong defensive midfielder is a Seneglese international and arrives from Saint-Etienne.
Once again though, it is difficult to look at the French transfer market and not notice Paris Saint-Germain's activity. The capital club completed a transfer coup late last week when they announced the signing of Uruguay international and Fenerbahce centre-back Diego Lugano for €3.5million. The player who captains La Celeste was believed to be on the verge of a transfer to Italian giants Juventus but PSG's sporting director Leonardo has rushed in and stolen the player away from the Italians.
The move was announced late on Saturday night by the Turkish club and Lugano then confirmed the deal via his Twitter
account. "I am happy to take on this new challenge at a superclub like Paris" he said.
It was also confirmed during the week that Newcastle United target Mevlut Erding is set to join Ligue 1 rivals Rennes once a replacement can be found. The Turkish international has seen his future discussed intensely by the media all summer and Les Rouges et Bleu seem to have forced the player out, despite his insistence that he wanted to remain in Paris. A fantastic cameo appearance against Toulouse on Sunday saw him score once and lay on another goal to help Les Parisiens to a 1-3 victory but it may have been a last throw of the dice for the striker in an effort to stay.
Speaking to L'Equipe
about the player's future Leonardo said: "His situation remains the same. He can leave us if we find a replacement."
PSG look set to play a big role now in the final days of the transfer market as they have admitted that they are looking to replace Erding and reports have linked them with a left-back as well. According to sources in France, Roma striker Marco Borriello is a target of Leonardo's and despite his recent arrival at Roma from AC Milan, the club are willing to sell him for €8million, €2million less than they paid for him two months ago.
Another Serie A player lined with a move to the Brazilian's ambitious project in Paris is Reto Ziegler, Tottenham's former left-back. The Swiss international has recently joined Juventus but, like Borriello, has not shown enough in pre-season according to reports and the club are willing to offload him.
Ligue 1 have a number of top talents that are currently coveted by Premier league sides but it is unknown whether the club's will cave in to the enticing financial offers being put forward by English teams so far. Arsenal's quest for new signings has seen them linked with a number of talents in France and they have now entered the race for highly-rated youngster M'Baye Niang of Caen. The 16 year old winger is interesting Manchester City, Spurs and Real Madrid but Arsene Wenger is ready to steal a march on all of them by pushing through a deal before Wednesday according to French sources.
The Gunners have also been linked with Marseille star Andre Ayew and his future is up in the air right now with the Ghanaian international insisting he wants to stay at the club for at least another season and rumours emanating from France suggest that he is prepared to sign a new deal with the side.
Speaking to France Football
about his future he said: "I never let the Arsenal speculation disturb me. Before thinking about leaving, I have to perform at l'OM. That is very clear to me. I have only achieved one good season in Ligue 1, nothing more. I still have a lot to prove."
Another player who could find himself joining a Premier League side but is unsure of his next destination is Lyon's Aly Cissokho. Plenty of speculation recently has linked him with a move to Newcastle but their interest in Dutch full-back Erik Pieters has seemingly cooled their interest in the Frenchman. Also, speaking after Lyon's impressive second half display in their 2-1 win over Montpellier on Saturday, the player was cryptic over his future and who will have the final say in any potential transfer. "I never said I wanted to leave" he said.
French international Yann M'Vila is another Ligue 1 star who has been linked with a move to the Premier League and it is suggested that both Arsenal, Chelsea and now Manchester United will try again for his signature before the transfer window shuts. Reports in France suggest that Arsene Wenger is prepared to offer €25million to land the tenacious midfielder but that would still fall short of Rennes' minimum acceptable fee of €30million. Sir Alex Ferguson and Andre Villas-Boas are only believed to be ready to pay €20million for his signature. The player has expressed his desire to stay but with Real Madrid also keeping an eye on his situation, it is not guaranteed that he will stay just yet.
Another player who could find himself making the move from across the channel but from England to France is Leeds United's Max Gradel. The Ivorian winger is believed to be courting serious interest from Ligue 1's Sochaux and Fulham. French reports though believe that Les Lionceaux's ability to bring the player in could now have been damaged by their embarrassing 0-4 home defeat to Metalist Khakiv in the Europa League last week which meant they missed out on the group stages.
In other news though not unrelated to this summer's transfer window, an interesting story emerged on Sunday night that suggested that new Saint-Etienne signing and former Fulham, Spurs and Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque had retired from football. Although yet to be confirmed by the player himself, Les Verts manager Christophe Galtier stated his belief that it was the player's intention to not play professionally again.
Speaking after ASSE's 2-1 away defeat to Sochaux Galtier said: " He came to me yesterday (Saturday) in the late afternoon to explain that he would not travel with us. Is this him retiring? You must ask him. It does not appear to me like that, but it seems that this is what he thinks."
With only a few days left now to seal any potential deals, clubs both sides of the Channel will be working hardover the next few days to get transfers pushed through. Amongst those expected to be announced are Park Chu-Young's impromptu move to Arsenal and the resolution of the transfer saga currently surrounding Sochaux striker Modibo Maiga.
According to some reports in France, the Magpies have dropped their interest in the player and now turned to Brest's €8million rated star Nolan Roux who has been of interest to Liverpool this summer. Although happy to remain at the club, the player is believed to be interested in the move and Newcastle are eager to sign another striker before the end of the window.
However with Arsenal sabotaging Lille's plans to sign Park, the champions could be set to do a little poaching themselves as they could step in ahead of Newcastle and pinch Roux as a replacement signing for the South Korean. Aly Cissokho could be amongst those that do arrive at St James' Park though as his long-standing transfer saga looks set to end over the next few days and Lyon are also expected to sign Delvin N'Dinga from Auxerre assuming the funds from Cissokho's sale come through. PSG will be busy again as many sources in France suggest that Leonardo will try once more to coax Manchester United into selling Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov. Other targets include Roma's Marco Borriello and Juventus' Reto Ziegler.
Marvin Martin is another name that has been linked with a move regularly this transfer window and he could be on the move, especially now that Sochaux have failed to qualify for the next round of the Europa League. Arsenal have reportedly held an interest in the schemer all summer long and with the club no longer being able to offer him European experience, Les Lionceaux will find it hard to turn down an fair offer for the player. Arsene Wenger is desperate to replace the departed Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas and Martin could be the sort of high-profile French signing the Gunners need. A deal could also be struck to bring Aston Villa's Jean II Makoun back to Ligue 1 with a number of French sides reported to be interested in the Cameroonian who finds himself out of favour at Villa Park.
Plenty of other moves have been mooted over the past weeks and months and although some of those rumours have died away, a handful of those clubs are expected to rekindle their interest in the players at the last minute. The end to this transfer window could be very exciting with a number of players looking to make last minute moves so expect a few surprises too with some big name players looking to resolve their futures, possibly willing to move abroad in late deals as Premier League sides in particular look set for one last raid.