Lille take legal action against rival Lens fans for sneaking offensive banner into LOSC’s training ground

RMC Sport report that Ligue 1 side Lille have decided to take legal action against rivals RC Lens’ fans after the latter broke into LOSC’s training centre to place an offensive banner there last week Sunday. The two sides go head to head on the final game of this coming weekend’s action.

The banner read “Lille is mierda” – Les Dogues have reacted and are filing a complaint under the auspices of “intrusion on private property.”

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The derby matches between Lille and Lens are historically intense and Sunday’s game will be the first since 3rd May 2015 between the two sides. LOSC have been allowed to permit 1,000 supporters to be at the match, following local government guidelines.


PLAYER RATINGS | Istanbul Basaksehir 0-2 PSG

Adam White provides his ratings on Les Parisiens’ following their victory over İstanbul Başakşehir on Tuesday night in the Champions’ League.



Clean sheet. One smart stop mid way through the second half and two other simple saves besides. Close to a 6.



Produced the usual hussle but little else and tired noticeably before his subbing.



Handled the physical Enzo Crivelli comfortably in the end and looked assured in his much discussed centre-back role.



Lucky with a misjudged first half header which might have led to a goal but woke up after half time producing a much more aggressive and proactive second period.



Had some nice moments on the ball and in forward areas but was worrying static defensively when Istanbul pushed forward early in the first half.



Wasteful and ponderous on the ball throughout.



Tuchel is right, this is his best position. Quietly commanding in midfield and protected his back four astutely.



Struggled to find space or create openings. Subbed early.



On for Neymar after 27 minutes following injury. Added some intensity and found some useful space across the front line in the second half but struggled to truly affect the game consistently.



Flashes of brilliance and produced a group of mesmerising runs – three in first half. His corner assisted the crucial opener. Just about worthy of 7.



Did very little other than win the game with two neat finishes – a well placed, if free, header opened the scoring before an astute spin and shot to seal it.



Neymar – 5, Kehrer – 5, Rafinha – 5, Bakker – 5, Gueye 5.



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Terrible. A horrible clash between the purple and the black, a significant downgrade on previous Jordan efforts.


Kyril Louis-Dreyfus attempting to buy Sunderland

As reported by The Guardian, 22-year-old son of historical owners of Marseille, Robert and Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, who held the French club in their possession between 1996 and 2016, Kyril, is close to acquiring English 3rd division side Sunderland with a Uruguayan businessman called Juan Sartori.

His mother, Margarita, still retains 5% of the shares of Ligue 1 club Marseille.

The Black Cats, who have been regular participants in the Premier League in the 21st century, have faced financial troubles over the last half-decade.

Sartori is already a minority shareholder in the business and has obtained an agreement with current owner of the Northern side, Stewart Donald, to acquire 80% of the shares, with Kyril understood to be part of the Uruguayan’s consortium.

After months of negotiating, the deal is in closing and is expected to be finalised by the start of December. 

Kyril refused to comment when contacted by France Football.

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Houssem Aouar explains his exclusion vs Reims: “I didn’t want to warm down because of the pitch.”

Speaking to RMC Sport, 22-year-old Lyon attacking midfielder Houssem Aouar explained his side of events as to why he was excluded from the squad that beat Reims 3-0 on Sunday.

“I do not usually speak during these sorts of situations. I preferred not to react before the match, because it was a very important match in the race for the podium, and we won, which is good. Honestly, there is nothing serious, it was a bit over done… What you need to know, is that against Angers, I did not come on (as a substitute) owing to the quality of the pitch (he had suffered an adductor injury), which is what the coach told me, and I refused to participate [in the warm down] for the same reason: the quality of the pitch. The following day, although there was a day off for the team, I came to training to do a session with the coach and the fitness coach, on a pitch more appropriate for my adductors, because it is an injury that I have been dealing with for a month and a half.”

“I respect the decision made by my Sporting Director (Juninho), he was a truly great player, I know what he has done. There is no real story to this… Honestly, I experienced the situation well because there is nothing to it. We should move on to something else, we are doing well at the moment, so we need to look forward and stop talking about this. Me, I am nothing compared to the squad.”

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On his relationship with Juninho:

It is very good. He is a club legend, you can always learn from people like him. He knows our home by heart, he knows what needs to be done. I would like to learn even more from him, that he comes and gives me advice for the future. Aside from that, there is a lot of work, he did not really have time during the transfer window, but I am very happy to work with him.

Exclusive | Oleg Petrov – the man responsible for AS Monaco’s second coming in the Rybolovlev era

Oleg Petrov is a discreet man on the European football scene, but his stock is rising. Brought in by AS Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev to replace Vadim Vasilyev in February 2019, the former Urakali Mining executive comes from an exclusively business background.

“I’ve worked in Africa, Europe, the United States and all around the world, witnessing the fall of the Soviet Union on the way and the changing landscape of the modern world before I arrived to this position… I met Dmitry in 2001, I started working for one of his companies, Urakali, the big mining group in Russia. I progressed in that company for a number of years. I saw how passionate he was about football, I witnessed the happiness in 2017 when they won the championship… then in 2019 he called me, I saw the performance of the club was struggling quite a bit, but I know it is a strong club and the president is a very strong person, he called me and proposed this challenging position. I did not think a lot, I said I will join with pleasure.”

Petrov did have a short dalliance with the idea of becoming a professional goalkeeper in his early teens, and still remembers being hurt by the fact it didn’t work out, having dreamed of emulating compatriot and legendary shot-stopper Lev Yashin: 

“Football was a very popular game in the former USSR, a street game, in which all kids played, it was hockey during the winter and football during the summertime… I played for a short period of time for a football club in Ufa, in the position of goalkeeper, but I did not happen to become a professional football player. I wanted to excel in this job as well, but my coach came to me and basically recommended to me that I look for another position or to change, and I was emotionally impacted by this. But it was a smart decision, football needs the best performers. Why waste time. You miss school and then you miss out on football, and everyone loses. A direct approach, maybe a bit hard-line, cruel at the time. But in the end it was exactly what I needed.”

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In a 60-minute appearance on Get French Football News’ Presidents Podcast, Petrov showed that he has rapidly attained a strong understanding of the world of football, despite being in it for a little over 18 months. His strategy is clear – double-down on replicating the successful implementation of strategies at the world’s currently highest-performing clubs – namely in the domains of data-driven decision-making and building the most athletic team in France.

“The role of agents was a new, in a way, area for me. And the strength of their role and their power is remarkable, I agree, but they are part of the ecosystem. But the world is changing as well… I see that the power of analytics is amazing and I see that this area is getting more solid. The role or ability of someone to come and say: “I have this player; he can be good for your team and he costs like this.” I think that these times are changing. It goes along with the specifics of each country and league, but I think in general top performers and top clubs will rely on data… We are delivering the performance centre in 2021, with a lot of new technical facilities, it is a significant investment done by our president Dmitry Rybolovlev and that will contribute even more to this aspect of our team.”

He is not in this fight of returning Monaco to its 2017 heights alone, having hired English and ex-Tottenham, Southampton and RB Leipzig football operative Paul Mitchell, “a humble, smart and intelligent man,” as the Sporting Director in summer of this year.

“It took us some time to identify what we needed for long-term success, when I met Paul for the first time, he impressed me, both as a person and as a professional. He is very modern in terms of feeling where the game is going to: very much on data, deep data, advanced, a lot of analysis. From him I heard for the first time the requirements on the athletic skills side, and that is where football is moving to. Being an athlete first, and a footballer second.”

Petrov admits that it took time to convince Mitchell to join the project at the Principality:

“It took time and some effort actually to make him join us. He was successful at Red Bull Leipzig. He believed in our ambition.” 

When pressed on whether he was concerned that Mitchell had never been afforded such wide-scale responsibility at a club before, Petrov responded with confidence:

“It was not a concern to me because I think that I saw his qualities and then he is doing this very successfully. You are right that the Sporting Director has by far a broader area of responsibility. Currently, Paul is covering all sporting life of our club. Managing the teams, the medical areas and everything basically. Leading the club to the future.”

One of Mitchell’s first acts was to push for the departure of Robert Moreno, who took over from Leonardo Jardim as manager in December 2019, with the Englishman pushing for the arrival of Niko Kovać instead, with the Croatian seen as a coach who more neatly matched Mitchell and Petrov’s playing style ambitions.

“The team did the analysis and identified that the physical and athletic elements needed to really improve, and so the goal is to become the most physical and athletic team in the league and then they started implementing the changes. To be successful in today’s game you have to be extremely fast, aggressive, with running, quick in transitions, maybe quicker to the goal in a certain way. So, it exactly reflected our vision.”

“Robert did a good job. If we didn’t lose our last game with Nice, in the last second of additional time, most likely we would be in Europe this season. Bringing in Niko was about bringing in someone more in line with what Paul believes the club is about. Robert was good, but Niko is a coach with more experience with 1st teams in Germany, German clubs and Croatian clubs, a player himself so he is a leader. Very strong. Very charismatic with the players, managing the players, you see that when he talks the way players behave is outstanding. Monaco was a club that required a change at the start of the championship. Paul convinced us that this was the right thing to do. Niko has his own style, very intensive, attacking football. Results driven, less ball possession, what we had with Robert, his own specific style which reflects his personality, very athletic, always on attack and quick transitions. Paul believes that is the exact coach who fits Monaco DNA at the current stage.” 

The positive results, although still small in sample size, have been immediate, following the bold changes made by Petrov in summer. AS Monaco, who sit just two points off PSG at the top of the Ligue 1 table with 12 matches played so far this season, beat the current Ligue 1 champions 3-2 in the first game back following the November international break. 33-year-old midfielder Cesc Fabregas, brought in by Thierry Henry in January 2019, had increasingly looked like a poor piece of business, but he is enjoying a renaissance of faith and influence under Kovac, and was decisive against Les Parisiens.

“It was an interesting game. That is why people love football so match. Cesc is a very intelligent, smart player, with a lot of ambition, a lot of leadership qualities and it is really amazing how he made his entry, it is not the first time, but the first time in a game of this calibre, but on a couple of occasions his entry into the game brought about a good change. As it was rightly said, he is maybe not the fastest runner but he is still one of the fastest thinkers in the team.” 

Monaco’s current squad most closely matches the alchemy of the Leonardo Jardim title-winning side in terms of mixture of high potential youngsters and experienced heads, an exciting reality that Petrov is aware of, as the conversation turned to the exciting deeper-lying midfield duo of Youssouf Fofana and Aurelien Tchouameni.

“The young boys are the recruits of the last year, I think they are 19, 20 years old. Indeed, last year we had more experienced midfielders with some of them being far better-known, renowned in the world. It is amazing how this year the young boys are doing a very good job and not looking second to those very, very famous players. I think the mixture in the team of young players, like Fofana, Tchouameni, Benoit Badiashile, Axel Disasi and players like Cesc, Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland, this is making a remarkable mix and a successful team.”

The Luis Campos-inspired transfer strategy of signing young players cheaply, giving them plenty of exposure and then exporting them for major transfer fees to the rest of Europe’s elite brought Rybolovlev success initially, but also was taken too far, with the club spending close to a combined €45m on teenage strikers Willem Geubbels and Pietro Pellegri in 2018 and the duo having scored just three times between them since their arrival. Petrov wants to avoid over-emphasising on this as a mode of operation in the project’s second-coming:

“I think what happened after Monaco won the championship in 2018 and early 2019 when things started getting worse, all this prompted our president to rethink the strategy and sharpen his views. Of course, trading will remain as one of the pillars, but what we put as the central pillar of our thinking is to deliver the sporting success, playing at the top of the French championship and in the top European championship. And use the means we have, then making smart trading only as a consequence. Trading will be the consequence of our performance. It is not just about record sale and record transfers.”

Listen to the full podcast below.

Get Football · Presidents Podcast #10 | Oleg Petrov – Vice President, AS Monaco

Official | William Saliba signs for OGC Nice on loan

OGC Nice have announced the loan arrival of 19-year-old French youth international central defender William Saliba, without an option to buy, until the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

The St Étienne youth product was denied the chance to play for ASSE in the Coupe de France final last summer, only for Arsenal to not play him in a single competitive match in the first half of the 2020/21 campaign.

Saliba joined Arsenal in the summer of 2019 for a sum of around €30m, returning to Les Verts on loan for the 2019/20 campaign. This season saw the player suffer with fitness issues, but also was a period of considerable stress for all involved owing to a particularly rigid set of criteria imposed by Arsenal on ASSE.

Saliba joins a very inexperienced backline, which has struggled for leadership following the ACL injury to 37-year-old central defender Dante.

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Raymond Domenech basing his coaching strategy around Zinedine Zidane

Speaking in a press conference on Friday, FC Nantes manager Raymond Domenech revealed that he has been taking inspiration from Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane as he seeks to stabilise Les Canaris’ squad.

“I started off with an idea. I don’t like it, and nor do players, when things change too much. I saw something and I enforced that. I think of Zidane’s Real. At one moment, the players went to speak to him to say stop moving and changing the playing structure. Zidane stabilised things and they had a great series of results that came from it. Players need that, that stability. They need to have repetition. We need to create that and we cannot just change everything. That does not mean that we are fixed but we have to perform well and demonstrate something. I am not going to change the system the day after, nor the structure or the players.”

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Official | Henry Onyekuru joins Galatasaray on loan from AS Monaco

Ligue 1 side AS Monaco on Monday announced the loan with option to buy departure of 23-year-old Nigerian attacker Henry Onyekuru to Turkish giants Galatasaray.

He signed for the Principality side in the summer of 2019 from Everton, but Niko Kovac decided early on this season, after giving the Nigerian international several opportunities in his starting XI, that the player was not suited to his squad.

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Onyekuru has previous with Galatasaray – this is now his third loan spell with them – he has played 56 games for the Turkish side already with a return of 17 goals and 8 assists.

Newcastle United have contacted PSG for Idrissa Gueye

L’Équipe report Premier League side Newcastle United have made contact with PSG for 31-year-old defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye – the Magpies want to sign the Senegalese international on loan until the end of the current campaign.

Both clubs are happy to go ahead with the transaction, but Idrissa Gueye is not interested in a move to NUFC. Mauricio Pochettino has made it clear to the player through his selections in his first matches as Les Parisiens boss that he does not count on him.

Gueye is under contract with Les Parisiens until 2023 and signed for the club in the summer of 2019 from Everton for €32m excluding bonuses. He is not against the idea of returning to the Premier League, but he wants a club that is of at the very least a similar standing to Everton, the club that he came from. PSG and Newcastle have an agreement, but they cannot do anything without the player’s say so.

Gueye is aware that at 30 he does not want to be sitting on the bench, but at the same time he does not want to make a mistake. One to watch in the coming hours.

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Shandong Luneng have made a €10m offer to Lyon for Thiago Mendes

Globo report that Chinese outfit Shandong Luneng have made a bid for 28-year-old Brazilian defensive midfielder Thiago Mendes – Lyon are currently considering the proposal.

Mendes is not entirely closed off to a move despite the fact that OL are in the midst of a Ligue 1 title race. The offer on the table is around €10m.

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