Toulouse agree deal for Jamaican international forward Junior Flemings

As reported by Foot Mercato, Ligue 2 Toulouse have agreed the signing of a new striker to compete with Englishman Rhys Healey who currently leads the division’s goal-scoring charts as Toulouse chase a return to Ligue 1.

A deal has been reached for the arrival of Jamaican international Junior Flemings. The 25-year-old will arrive in France at the start of January after his contract expires with the American second division side Birmingham Legion. Reportedly a quick, powerful forward with a strong strike who can play across the front line, Flemings has scored 66 goals in six seasons in the USL championship.

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Marseille president Pablo Longoria says events in Lyon psychologically affected Dimitri Payet

Speaking in L’Équipe, Marseille president Pablo Longoria discussed at length the continuing issues with crowd trouble in French stadiums this season, explaining that OM forward Dimitri Payet was psychologically affected by events against Lyon after he was floored by a bottle thrown from the stands.

Should sporting punishments, the withdrawal of points, for example, be used in relation to security?“I am more for individual punishments… so that everyone is aware of the consequences of their actions when they go to stadiums. Now is the time to strike hard against those who cause trouble. Regulations must be applied to all the teams, we can’t be wondering what is the right sanction every week.”

Are your counterparts in the same frame of mind?“It’s human nature to defend your interests, to defend the institutions that you represent. But I believe these incidents can affect anyone, at any stage. We must therefore stand together and work together to empower the league on these issues. The image of French football is in danger.”

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You who have contacts abroad, what is French football’s image?“The problems in French stadia have been seen around the world. But at the same time, all European players agree that the level of Ligue 1 has increased significantly, making it more attractive. We have a very good product. We must guarantee the safety of the supporters, but also of the players. If you’d spoken with Dimitri Payet the day after the incident in Lyon, you would’ve seen he was psychologically affected.”

Lucas Paquetá has turned down an approach from Newcastle United

As reported initially by our colleagues at Foot Mercato, 24-year-old Brazilian central midfielder Lucas Paquetá has turned down an approach from Premier League side Newcastle United about a possible January move.

The Magpies were willing to propose an enormous salary to entice the attacking midfield, worth around €850k a month (pre-tax).

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Paquetá, who is under contract with OL until 2025, rejected taking discussions with the Magpies any further forward – he feels happy at Lyon and if he is to leave it will be for an even more reputable club in Europe than OL.

This season, he has 7 goals and 4 assists in 21 matches in all competitions.

Chelsea bid €85m for Marquinhos last summer

As reported by L’Équipe, Chelsea made a serious attempt to sign PSG captain and centre-back Marquinhos last summer.

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With former coach Thomas Tuchel remaining an admirer of his former player, the ex-PSG coach having won the Champions League in partnership with another erstwhile Paris captain this year, the German manager convinced the London club to offer €85m for the 27-year-old.

The player, however, had no chance to offer his opinion on the proposed move as it was immediately rejected by PSG. RMC reported in September that offers might have eventually gone as high as €100m. Now, however, it seems Marquinhos is close to signing a new deal with Paris as his current contract expires in 2024.

Official | Lens sign Norway midfielder Patrick Berg

Lens have this afternoon announced the signing of Norwegian midfielder Patrick Berg from Bodø/Glimt, with the 24-year-old joining the club starting from January 1.

The Norway international has joined on a deal running until 2026, and will take the number 6 shirt for the Sang et Or. This season, he was notably involved on the international stage in the 6-1 win for his club over Roma in the Conference League.

Berg was named player of the year in last year’s Eliteserien campaign, and had been at the club for the entirety of his professional career, since 2014.

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Monaco sporting director Paul Mitchell: “We weren’t fulfilling our full potential. We’ve not seen the same team as last year.”

Speaking at new coach Philippe Clement’s unveiling press conference, Monaco sporting director Paul Mitchell explained the thinking behind Niko Kovač’s surprise sacking over the Christmas break.

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“We absolutely have to show the greatest respect for Niko Kovač’s work. Together we’ve built the solid foundations of our project, he’s contributed to it. The performances from this summer until Christmas have shown us that we weren’t fulfilling our full potential. After the second half of last season, we thought we had a head start on our rivals. Our owners allowed us to keep all our players and strengthen the group to compete on all fronts but we’ve never been in the top five this season. We’ve not seen the same team as last year… Today, we’re 17 points behind the leaders. The gap is too big.”

Dortmund in talks for Mohamed Ali-Cho

L’Équipe report that German outfit Borussia Dortmund are currently in pole position to land 17-year-old French attacker Mohamed Ali-Cho from Ligue 1 side Angers.

SCO President Saïd Chabane has provisionally set his desired amount for the teenager at €40m, which he knows he will not receive, for a player under contract until June 2023.

Atletico Madrid and Chelsea are following the situation of Ali-Cho, but Borussia Dortmund are the only major club so far to have concretely accelerated things, with talks currently ongoing between BVB and the player’s entourage.

Dortmund have already presented their project to Ali-Cho, who is interested.

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Pascal Dupraz on his style of play and why he doesn’t like to talk about it.

In an interview with Eurosport, new Saint-Étienne coach Pascal Dupraz discussed his reluctance to discuss his playing philosophy, explaining: “I will not divulge my ideas to my opponents.”

Since you arrived in Saint-Étienne you haven’t talked much about style of play. Why?

“I don’t want to.”

Fine, but that maintains your image as a leader of men who doesn’t have a playing philosophy.

“Are you one of those people who thinks that just saying ‘come on guys’ is enough to transform a team’s results? It makes sense that there’s work behind it. I’m not affected by the latest fashions, I don’t have a career plan. My life is a fairy tale. I don’t need to talk about science, possession, positional play… I’m not interested in that. If, one day, I’m asked to the DTN [the FFF’s National Technical Directorate] to talk about it with my colleagues, I’ll do it, but that doesn’t interest me. I will not divulge my ideas to my opponents.”

But it’s also interesting to nurture a debate with those who follow football…

“Today, in modern football, we mustn’t talk about defending. Because if you talk about defending, you’re backwards looking. How many times have I heard: ‘L1 is open.’ Ah yes, Saint-Étienne is open – 40 goals conceded. Good! Super! My philosophy? Our team must defend better to attack better. I take responsibility for everything but I don’t want to spend my time talking about it. Unless the leaders forbid me to do so, I would like training to be open to the public. People will see that I’m actually good at it.”

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PSG will need to ringfence €300m to sign Erling Haaland

As reported by L’Équipe this morning, whoever signs Dortmund’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland will have to set aside a €300m budget to get the deal over the line.

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Despite appearing increasingly frustrated in a Dortmund shirt of late, the Bundesliga club remain keen to convince their star player to remain at the club. The French sports daily paper report that BVB are ready to offer the 21-year-old a €16m gross annual salary which would surpass the highest-paid player Marco Reus by some distance, Reus is currently at €12m. Haaland, however, has made his decision to leave.

At the end of this season, his €75m release clause will be available to be activated and, with the player’s contract up in 2024, Dortmund general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke has set an ultimatum with the player’s entourage to make a decision on his future clear by February.

PSG are among the contenders to sign the striker with Kylian Mbappé (23) likely to leave for free this summer but they will need to ringfence €300m to sign Haaland. The €75m transfer fee will be added to €20m for agent Mino Raiola’s commission and that of Haaland’s father Alf-Inge as well as €30m to €35m annual salary over a six-year contract, say L’Équipe. Such an outlay will greatly thin out the list of potential suitors.

Haaland has managed 76 goals in 79 games for Dortmund since joining in January 2020, that’s a goal every 81 minutes in all competitions.

Versailles to play cup tie in Toulouse due to palace lighting issue

Le Parisien report this afternoon that fourth tier side Versailles will be made to play their Coupe de France tie against Toulouse away from home, due to a lighting issue with their ground.

The Montbauron stadium was due to hold the round of 16 tie against the Ligue 2 outfit. However, the ground is not licensed to hold games by night, and the club’s request to move the tie to an afternoon during the weekend of January 29-30 was turned down.

The ground’s lack of a license is down to its proximity to the city’s world-famous palace. As no light source must be visible from the King’s room within a five kilometre radius, the stadium is not allowed to use floodlights and as such games cannot be played after dark. The centuries-old rule has posed an obstacle to the club in recent times, given its ambitions to climb up the football ladder.

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Versailles, who are in the race for promotion in the league, instead came to an agreement with their opponents to play the game in the south of France instead.