Sevilla tracking Bouna Sarr (Marseille) closely

France Football report that 28-year-old Marseille wide player Bouna Sarr is attracting significant interest from Spanish side Sevilla.

Last season, the La Liga club acquired Lucas Ocampos from OM and they recently watched Sarr on two occasions, at OM’s 2-2 draw with Amiens and during their 3-1 away victory at Nîmes.

The player has been a trusty option for André Villas Boas, who has named him as a potential future club captain, but under the threat of UEFA sanctions, Marseille will not be able to hold on to anyone if the bids are considerable.

Sarr is valued by the market at the moment between €10m and €15m.

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Lyon have enquired to buy AS Monaco defender Benoît Badiashile

TF1 report that Ligue 1 side AS Monaco may be brought to sell 19-year-old central defender Benoît Badiashile this summer, as they will likely face financial difficulties after they failed to qualify for European football for the second season running.

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Lyon have already made enquiries, and discussions are already ongoing with a number of clubs in England and Spain.

FC Lorient & Nantes tracking Jung-Bin Park (Servette)

L’Équipe report that Ligue 1 duo for next season, FC Lorient and FC Nantes, are closely watching the situation of 26-year-old South Korean international attacker Jung-Bin Park.

Out of contract with Swiss 1st division side Servette in June, he could represent a cost effective early summer transfer window deal.

He scored 4 goals in 6 games for Servette, arriving last October from Danish outfit Viborg FF.

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Lyon President Aulas confirms the commencement of 2 legal actions following league suspension

Speaking in an interview with L’Équipe du Soir, Lyon President Aulas confirmed that two legal actions have commenced against the LFP following their decision to definitively terminate the 2019/20 Ligue 1 campaign.

“We hesitated a lot over doing it. The board of directors at Olympique Lyonnais, which is a company on the stock market, took the decision to file a lawsuit (in Paris courts). Money is not the major concern for Olympique Lyonnais. This is a club which has gone from the very bottom to the very top. We have first demanded to examine the possibility of returning to football. The decision from the Minister of Sports (Roxana Maracineanu) is based on the date of 3rd August, which does not exist at UEFA, whilst taking into account health and medical protocols. We can examine in detail with the Prime Minister (Édouard Philippe) and Minister of Health (Olivier Véran) the health protocols that have been given the green light in all the European countries and see if there is a possibility to return. The second (lawsuit) pertains to the way in which the league was stopped and the way in which the final standings were calculated, to see if they are legitimate… We need to analyse things, see if clubs are hurt by this decision. For the moment, we are not talking about financial prejudice.”

“It does not relate to millions, but to a certain number of decisions in the general interest.”

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Rennes & Lille open talks with Manchester City sign Claudio Gomes on loan with an option to buy

RMC Sport report that Rennes and Lille, as well as a third, unnamed Ligue 1 club, have opened negotiations with Manchester City over a possible loan with option to buy deal for 19-year-old defensive midfielder Claudio Gomes.

Gomes, a PSG youth academy product, moved to Manchester City in 2018, but has not been able to break into the Premier League side’s 1st team.

In recent days, Gomes has decided to switch representation from English agency Stellar to French lawyer Badou Sambague, who currently represents Samuel Grandsir, Timothy Weah and Mohamed Simakan.

Loaned to PSV this season after having made just two appearances in the City 1st team in 2018, Gomes appeared 21 times for the Dutch reserves in 2019/20.

He now wants to find a new club – under contract with Manchester City until 2023, the player is not against the idea of signing in Ligue 1 on a permanent basis.

Although there is competition abroad, Gomes will prioritise projects which offer him consequential game time.

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How Emmanuel Macron took the decision to terminate the 2019/20 Ligue 1 season – Le Parisien

Today at 13:00, the national court began to hear the cases put by Lyon, Toulouse and Amiens which seek to challenge the premature termination of the 2019/20 Ligue 1 campaign. The outcome of these cases will be heard between 10th to 12th June.

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After another week filled with Ligue 1 club presidents claiming that the government forced the LFP to terminate the season, countered by the French government saying it was the LFP who made this decision, it is clear that the phrase uttered by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on 28th April: “The 2019/20 professional sports seasons, notably football, cannot restart,” has become a key bone of contention in the ongoing French Football Farce.

Le Parisien claim today that it was in fact French President Emmanuel Macron who personally took the season to end the 2019/20 Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 campaigns. In the first instance because of the obvious health risks attached with continuing to play, at the time at which quarantine was in its infancy.

However, Macron also elected to consult with four key figures before making his decision, owing to his personal relationships with them – at least 50% of them, notably Marseille President Jacques-Henri Eyraud and Paris FC owner Pierre Ferracci, had a footballing interest in seeing the campaigns end there. OM, because they would be guaranteed Champions’ League football, and Paris FC, because they would secure Ligue 2 status for another season after a very complicated campaign during which they spent the majority of it rooted in the relegation zone but just so happened to lie in 17th place when quarantine set in.

Described by the newspaper as an approach taken by Macron so that he could hear from representatives of the three main families of French football: lower leagues, the top tier and the national team set-up. Macron believes that he has successfully negotiated the COVID-19 crisis for football through making government schemes like partial employment and the state-guaranteed loan systems, available to the sport’s main bodies.

Le Parisien reveal today that Pierre Ferracci regularly called Emmanuel Macron in a bid to convince him to move to terminate the 2019/20 season with immediate effect. Ferracci’s son, Marc, is an economist and was a witness at Emmanuel Macron’s wedding, with Macron also having been at Marc’s wedding. Marc was Macron’s Chief of Staff when the politician was the Minister of Economy under François Hollande. The intimate relationship between Ferracci and Macron is undeniable, however Ferracci has sought to deny any lobbying of any sort:

“Each person is free to invent fantasies to make it forgotten that certain individuals put considerable pressure on the Minister of Sports and the government, using financial arguments and health arguments that largely contributed to discredit the possibility of a return to action. My position has always been clear and public. Since the beginning, I asked that we study the impact of a permanent cessation of the season, which was not done, sadly. And, at the end, I asked for it to be stopped because health conditions were not present for a return.”

Didier Deschamps’ counsel was also sought after by Macron, who knows the significance that the manager of the French national team holds for the country’s football fanatics. Concerned about the health of players and the unrelenting rhythm required from them, which regularly brings about injuries that prevent players from representing the French national team, Deschamps viewed it as wiser to give players a rest rather than running from one season straight into another. Of course, the majority of his squad does not play in Ligue 1, but it still afforded him the possibility of getting longer rest periods for individuals like Kylian Mbappé, Léo Dubois, Steve Mandanda, Wissam Ben Yedder and others.

FFF President Noël Le Graët appears to have been more exigent in his desire to get the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2019/20 campaigns terminated, having made multiple phone calls to Macron to achieve this. On 16th April, the FFF 12 days before Édouard Philippe’s announcement terminated all amateur competitions and made a very strategic move on 28th April to do an interview with Le Télégramme in which he announced that Ligue 1 was over before the LFP could meet 2 days later to make their own determination.

Marseille President Jacques-Henri Eyraud was Macron’s last port of call, having lobbied the French president to bring about the end of the 2019/20 season because Champions’ League football for OM was going to be critical in overcoming the €127m losses that the club is understood to currently be presiding over. The Elysée has denied such contact, but Le Parisien stand firm. Macron is well-known to be a Marseille supporter.

UEFA are still yet to announce a formal date by which 2019/20 league competitions must be brought to an end, despite the persistent claims from Minister for Sports Roxana Maracineanu that the government was forced to end the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 campaigns because the European body had insisted that 3rd August was the cut off point for all action to be completed. This has been proven to have been incorrect, it was merely a suggested date during a UEFA Executive Committee video-conference which is believed to have been devastatingly misinterpreted by the FFF Director General Florence Hardouin.

To understand the financial severity of what is at stake following the decision not to terminate the 2019/20 Ligue 1 campaign, listen to this podcast. 

Wissam Ben Yedder wants to leave AS Monaco

France Football report that 29-year-old French international striker Wissam Ben Yedder has decided that he wants to leave AS Monaco this summer for a club offering Champions’ League football next season.

WBY finished as the joint top scorer in Ligue 1 this season, but Monaco will not oppose his departure if an adequate proposal is made for a player that they purchased for €40m last summer.

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Mourad Boudjellal has bid to acquire Ligue 1 side Marseille

Ex Toulon rugby club owner Mourad Boudjellal is putting together a bid to acquire Ligue 1 club Marseille, according to L’Équipe and Var Matin.

The project is financed by a collection of private and state-owned Middle Eastern companies, whilst being spearheaded by a prominent Franco-Tunisian businessman.

A top M&A bank has been mandated by the project to enter into contact with Marseille owner Frank McCourt to make him an offer to buy the club.

Le Figaro claim that a group of investors deposited €700m with Rothschild & Co 2 weeks ago to be spent on Marseille should Frank McCourt accept – €300m to buy the American out, €200m to rid of OM’s existing debts & €200m for the transfer window.

Boudjellal has also been in talks to acquire French 4th division side Sporting Toulon.

Speaking on RMC this afternoon, Boudjellal confirmed the news:

“I was supposed to take over Toulon, things have dragged out, so I said I was engaged in something else. You know that yesterday I was in Paris, for a meeting, for the moment I have not received the freedom (on the footballing decision-making level that he wants to acquire Toulon), which means that I am bringing an offer to buy Marseille, with Middle Eastern funds. Private and state-owned funds involving in oil, gas, energy. And who are being lead by a very big Franco-Tunisian businessman.”

“We have mandated a private business bank, to make an offer to Mr McCourt. Everything is for sale. I was approached a little while ago, and I agreed to be part of it, because the Toulon project was not there, and so yes we have made an offer to buy Marseille. The size? When you are working with the Middle East, let’s just say it is the size to match our ambitions. The intention is to bring a Mediterranean project to OM, a very strong project. I would become the Marseille President in this project.”

“It will depend on the seller, we want things to go as quickly as possible. We have entered into the negotiation phase with McCourt. I would not be the majority shareholder, I would be president.”

The AFP have provided further details on this evolving story: Boudjellal intends to involve Louis Acariès, a former confidant of Robert Louis-Dreyfus’ in the project if their bid is successful.

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The money is understood to be Saudi Arabian, but the bid is being spearheaded by Franco-Tunisian businessman Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi. Boudjellal will not own any majority part of the club, but will fulfil the role of president if the offer is accepted by McCourt.

Boudjellal revealed in a later press conference this afternoon that McCourt will receive the first formal bid on Monday or Tuesday.

Official | Lille land 18-year-old attacker Isaac Lihadji from Marseille

Ligue 1 side Lille today announced the signing of 18-year-old French youth international wide attacker Isaac Lihadji, who signs from Marseille after he rejected a major professional contract from OM, then offered to him by now departed Sporting Director Andoni Zubizaretta.

The teenager, who is managed by major French agent Moussa Sissoko, has instead chosen Les Dogues as the place to sign his first professional contract at.

The youngster is considered to have excellent vision matched by exceptional pace and a desire to break the lines with frightening regularity.

Lihadji was chased by Arsenal and Dortmund with particular vigour, but it was Luis Campos’ ability to continue to turn young talents into diamonds that convinced the teenager to make the move to the north of France.

Lille CEO Marc Ingla had the following to say on the move:

“He is young and a very promising French international who notably shot to prominence with major performances in the most recent U17s World Cup. He is a wide-man, a left-footer, a dribbler, who moves very fast and on top of that, he is capable of scoring and of enabling others to score. We are proud that such a starlet has chosen Lille and we thank him for the faith he has in our project.”

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Marseille have no interest in Mbaye Niang – André Villas Boas

Speaking in an interview with La Provence, Portuguese coach André Villas Boas claimed that his side Marseille have no interest in Rennes striker Mbaye Niang.

“I don’t know why the Niang name has come out. We contacted his agent in February because Andoni (Zubizarreta, ex-Sporting Director) had a good relationship with him. We made our interest known about a transfer at the end of the year. His profile is interesting, but on the one hand we don’t have the money required and on the other hand, we did not put his name on the list of players to buy.”

“It started to gather momentum and I do not know why, to the point where the player was in contact with certain members of our squad. I let the player’s entourage know that we are not in for him, we have not made an offer. We have neither the means nor the interest in bringing him in. I wish him the best. It is not because he does not have quality, but because we don’t have the capacity and we are looking for a different profile.”

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