Stephane Diarra has stated he rejected interest from Premier League clubs Leicester City and Newcastle United as well as Lille, Monaco and Marseille to join newly-promoted Ligue 1 side Lorient.
The 21-year-old completed his move to the Stade du Moustoir this week from Ligue2 club Le Mans after he had a successful medical examination.
The forward revealed his dream to play in the French top-flight, and how the club’s director Christophe Le Rouxas and manager Christophe Pelissier, influenced his decision.
“Many clubs have contacted me, such as the English clubs in Newcastle and Leicester, but also French teams with Lille, Monaco or Marseille,” Diarra told Ouest-France.
“The speeches of Christophe Le Roux, sports director, and coach Christophe Pelissier were decisive in my decision-making.
“I knew it was a quality team that played football and I needed an efficient team. It was important for me to stay in France.
“Since childhood, I dream of playing in Ligue 1. And then, it was important for me not to skip the stages. I'm here to learn. I will stay in Ligue 1, progress and we will see later.”
Diarra, who signed a five-year deal with Lorient, feels joining the Merlucciidaes on a long-term deal indicated his confidence in the club.
“It is a wish of both parties. It proves the confidence that the club has in me but also the confidence that I have in the club,” he continued.
“It is neither long nor too short, it gives me time to progress and continue to grow. There is no clause in my contract for a possible relegation to Ligue 2. I am here in Lorient for the next five years.”
The young winger scored four goals and provided four assists in 28 appearances across all competitions for Le Mans in the 2019-20 season and hoped to improve on that performance at Stade du Moustoir.
“Of course I have to work on my efficiency, on the last finish. I'm here to progress and I think my teammates will help me get there,” he added.
“Last year I finished with four goals and four assists but for me, it is not enough. We can always do better.”
The forward will be expected to make his debut for Pelissier’s side during their pre-season games.