by Robin Bairner | French Editor
“What a day!” Lorient president Loic Fery exclaimed on his Twitter feed a little after lunchtime. Even in his experience, of having been through transfer windows previously, he could not have envisaged such a dramatic and busy 24 hours in France, where much of the action is typically over by that tardy stage.
Certainly, Ligue 1’s most high-profile spenders Paris Saint-Germain, who have flaunted their financial muscle almost as much as any club in Europe, had conducted all of their major business by August 31, having declared previously that Mevlut Erding was being taken off the market after the Turk’s valuable late contribution in Toulouse last weekend. Grandi Ngoyi was allowed to join.
But there would be several key cases resolved with regards the big clubs, and most notably with Lyon, who finally replaced the void created when Jeremy Toulalan left for Malaga. The seven-time champions strengthened their midfield by signing up France Under-20 captain Gueida Fofafan, who would appear to be something of a bargain at just €2 million from Le Havre.
|LIGUE 1'S THREE BIG DEADLINE DAY MOVES
|Cole to Lille
||Fofana to Lyon
||Poulsen to Evian
Miralem Pjanic would be the big player to depart Ligue 1, though according to OL president Jean-Michel Aulas, this moves allows the Rhone club to extend the contract of prodigious young midfielder Clement Grenier, who will now be afforded more game time.
Lille, meanwhile, made the big name signing of the day, snapping up Joe Cole around lunchtime to add to their already impressive array of attacking talent.
Marseille were not quiet in the market, seeking a striker until the last minute, but they could not pin down a deal for either Juventus attacker Amauri or Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan, meaning that a proposed loan move to the Premier League for Andre-Pierre Gignac ultimately fizzled out.
On the other hand, Bordeaux’s day was more sedate, adding versatile Gabon international teenager Andre Biyogo Poko to their roster. Things were electric for Francis Gillot’s side later in the day, but unfortunately that was simply the lightning during their 3-1 Coupe de la Ligue defeat against Saint-Etienne.
Amongst the other major players on the final day of the season, it was Fery’s Lorient who conducted arguably the most productive work. After a slow start to the season, their collection of deadline day additions to their offence –Innocent Emeghara, Gilles Sunu and Joel Campbell, who joins on loan from Arsenal – should be seen as a major step forward for Christian Gourcuff’s side.
In order to balance their books, Lorient offloaded former France Under-21 striker Lynel Kitambala to Saint-Etienne, who also made a strong play by finalising a deal to sign Max Gradel from English club Leeds United. Banel Nicolita joined Sainte from Steaua Bucharest and will hope to have a similar impact as he did in his homeland, where he captained his club and has won many international caps on the right side of the pitch.
A serious injury to captain Loic Perrin during Sainte's Coupe de la Ligue fixture against Bordeaux later in the evening means that the Loire club are liable to delve back into the transfer market soon to exploit their one 'joker' signing, who will have to be made from a French side.
Gradel wasn’t the only player to hop across the English Channel, though. Christian Poulsen has joined Ligue 1 upstarts Evian on a loan deal. Arriving after a difficult spell with Liverpool, the Dane possesses plenty of experience and should prove to be a strong addition to their midfield.
Quick mover | Recently signed by Arsenal, Campbell has been loaned to Lorient
There were other new faces in a similar position throughout France, with Dijon’s capture of Caen’s Damien Marcq largely flying under the radar. Thomas Mangani jumps up from Ligue 2 side Monaco to join Nancy along with striking colleague Daniel Niculae, who teams up with his former mentor at Auxerre, Jean Fernandez.
The Romanian acts as a replacement for Youssouf Hadji, who departed the Lorraine side for in-form Rennes, and in-turn the Moroccan’s arrival in Brittany shunted Abdoul Camara to Sochaux.
Nice were linked with Sporting Lisbon attacker Yannick Djalo but would ultimately sign Abraham Guie Guie from Ligue 2 outfit Tours, while the Portuguese has reportedly joined up too.
All-in-all, it was a furious close to the transfer market around France, with the majority of clubs having their wishes granted.
What a day, indeed!
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