The transfer window is now open in France, but it is the coaches rather than players who have been on move.
By Howard Johnson in Paris
The French transfer market opened on June 9, but so far it’s been the movement of managers rather than players that’s been making all the headlines.
While it was known before the end of the season that Paris Saint-Germain boss Paul Le Guen and Marseille manager Eric Gerets would both be leaving – albeit under vastly differing circumstances – the procession of managers coming and going across the board has been positively head-spinning.
Both PSG and Marseille have brought back former players for the forthcoming season, with Antoine Kombouare arriving in the capital from Valenciennes and Didier Deschamps taking over on the south coast. But this round of managerial musical chairs has also seen Guy Lacombe leave Rennes for Monaco, Nice boss Frederic Antonetti head for Rennes, the Portuguese Paulo Duarte replace Arnaud Cormier at Le Mans, while newly-promoted Boulogne-Sur-Mer have lost Philippe Montanier to Valenciennes.
Add in the fact that Nice have already replaced Antonetti with former Clermont boss Didier Olle-Nicole, while Lille are expected to recruit Le Guen to replace Rudi Garcia, and it’s easy to see that it’s all change for the men in charge.
For those who play on the grass rather than patrol the peripheries of it, things have been much less hectic. There has been much talk in the air of imminent transfers, but little in the way of concrete deals so far. So in many ways the most important transfer so far involves a player who’s not really moving anywhere. Bordeaux’s ability to turn star player Yoann Gourcuff’s loan move from Milan into a permanent deal may well end up as the best bit of business of the close season.
Spanish side Valencia will be happy to have recruited Toulouse left back Jeremy Matthieu despite their financial problems. Matthieu leaves the south west of France after four years with a reputation as one of the country’s best defenders, despite being ignored by national coach Raymond Domenech. Bordeaux were willing to pay £4million for Matthieu last summer, but he now leaves on a Bosman.
There’s talk, meanwhile, of English club Tottenham being keen on taking two of Toulouse’s talented youngsters, midfielder Moussa Sissoko and midfielder/defender Etienne Capoue. Both players are on long-term contracts and Toulouse president Olivier Sadran says that he has no intention of selling, but as we all know every player has his price, even Capoue, Ligue 1’s young player of the year.
Other potential moves in the offing? PSG’s French international keeper Michel Landrau has said he’s off, possibly to Lille, with Gregory Coupet likely to replace him after a torrid time with Atletico Madrid. Another high profile PSG man likely to move is winger Jerome Rothen, who seems all set to join English outfit Blackburn Rovers. Coming in to the capital appears to be Sochaux’ highly rated Turkish striker Mevlut Erding, with a fee of £7million being bandied about.
Lyon and Marseille have been quiet as far as recruitment goes so far. Juninho has announced his departure from the Stade Gerland and young striker Anthony Mounier has signed with Nice, while Marseille have been forced to take back Djibril Cisse after Sunderland turned down the option to buy. Five players who are out of contract at Marseille – Civelli, M’Bami, Zenden, Wiltord and the Englishman Tyrone Mears – will all be released.
Champions Bordeaux, meanwhile, are looking to land Toulouse keeper Cedric Carrasso to replace veteran Ulrich Rame as the club’s first-choice stopper. The former Marseille man has openly declared his desire to sign for the champions, while Le Mans keeper Yohann Pele is the next in line for Bordeaux boss Laurent Blanc, should his move for Carrasso fail.