Lyon's Juninho responds as Depay-to-Barcelona rumours swirl
Lyon sporting director Juninho says Memphis Depay, Houssem Aouar and Moussa Dembele could leave the club this transfer window, though he insists the Ligue 1 side do not intend to sell all three.
Despite reaching last season’s Champions League semi-finals, beating Juventus and Manchester City en route, Les Gones were dealt a blow when they could only finish seventh in the controversially truncated Ligue 1 season last term, meaning that they missed out on European qualification for the first time in 24 years.
That failure to reach Europe is set to shape their ambitions in the transfer market this summer and make outgoings inevitable.
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Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Barcelona are all said to be interested in Depay, Manchester City and Juventus have been strongly linked with Aouar, while Manchester United are one of the sides associated with Dembele.
Of the three, Depay appears the most likely to move on as he has entered the final 12 months of his contract and has refused the offer of an extension.
If the Netherlands forward does leave then Juninho insists it will not necessarily trigger the departure of the other two, and even they did move on the club have potential replacements lined up.
"It is not planned to sell Houssem, Memphis and Moussa at the same time,” he told the club’s official website. “If that happened, we would look for players of the same level on the market.
“The departure of the three together is not planned. [But] they attract the market.
"There have been clubs in for Houssem for a long time. Moussa? He is a real goalscorer. There are not many options like him in the market.
"Memphis was unfortunately injured. We tried to extend his contract, the president did everything but he did not want to discuss during this period. In a year, he will be free.
“If we lose quality players, and three is almost impossible, [then] we already have names to replace them. Players of the same level.”
Even if Depay, Aouar and Dembele stay at the Groupama Stadium, Juninho says he still needs to trim the squad as it adjusts to a season without European matches.
"I think we need to reduce the workforce. It's more about departures for the moment,” added the former Lyon midfielder
“We have three full-backs on the right and three on the left. We should never have three players in these positions, we should have two and bring in a youngster if ever there is a problem.
"I’m not criticising Rafael, Leo [Dubois] or Kenny [Tete], but how can we make everyone play? On the left, we have Youssouf [Kone], Marcal, Melvin Bard and Maxwel [Cornet] who can play in this position. You have to find a balance.”