Ligue 1 Focus – Niang set to leave Marseille

Mamadou Niang is the latest player wanting out of France. The Senegalese striker finished top scorer last season as Olympique de Marseille clinched the Ligue 1 title but joins former Bordeaux front man Marouane Chamakh in seeking pastures new.

OM Coach Didier Deschamps has been able to strengthen his championship winning side from last season, adding Spanish under-21 right-back Cesar Azpilicueta to the squad. The former Juventus Coach has had to convince Taye Taiwo to stay in recent weeks but looks powerless to prevent Niang joining Turkish side Fenerbahce. Niang told the official Ligue 1 website: “Fenerbahce is a big club with a great following in Turkey. I want to go to Fenerbahce to play in the Champions League for them as well as the domestic league. The Turkish league is a good league. I receive offers every year. Every time, I am accused of wanting to abandon Marseille by leaving. And every year I end up staying. Had I received this offer in June, I would have gone then. I think I’m quits with OM. Everything they have given me, I have given them back. I have given everything, my soul and my heart.

Losing a player of Niang’s stature – not only within the team but with the fans – would be a big blow to Marseille’s hopes of retaining the title yet Deschamps has been a success in the transfer market at OM when given money to spend. Last summer’s acquisition of Lucho Gonzalez from Porto gave the team a different dimension. Gonzalez was identified as the man to replace captain Lorik Cana – who eventually signed for Sunderland – and his ability to create as well as protect the back four took the pressure off playmaker Mathieu Valbuena, who shone alongside the Argentine schemer. Whether Niang leaves before this weekend’s season opener against Caen remains to be seen but his departure is sure to heap more pressure on strike partner Brandao, as Mamadou Samassa’s future at the club is still uncertain despite an impressive loan spell at Valenciennes last term.

Former Fulham boss Jean Tigana is the man Chairman Jean-Louis Traiud has chosen to lead Bordeaux into a new era. Tigana replaces Laurent Blanc, who has moved into his office at the French Football Federation aiming to clear the debris of France’s disappointing World Cup campaign. Tigana – out of work since leaving Besitkas in 2007 – arrives at les Girondins looking to improve on last season’s sixth place finish. Despite losing Chamakh to Arsenal after his contract at Bordeaux expired, Tigana still has a strong squad at his disposal. Their ability to retain Yoann Gourcuff, despite reputed interest from Manchester City, has given fans a much needed boost ahead of the new season. With Chamakh departed, the French playmaker will be deployed in an attacking role behind the lone striker, a position he thrived in during Bordeaux’s 2008/09 championship winning season. If Tigana is going to succeed at the Stade Chaban Delmas, then prizing the best out of Gourcuff is essential.

With much of the transfer business seeing Ligue 1 stripped of its top stars, Lyon have completed the biggest domestic transfer by bringing in Stade Rennais poacher Jimmy Briand. The 25-year-old arrives at Stade de Gerland with the task of replacing cult figure Sydney Govou, who left for Panathinaikos. Briand bolsters an already enviable front line of Bafetimbi Gomis and Lisandro Lopez, the latter scoring 15 goals in his debut season at Lyon. Having overcome a serious knee injury Briand will be hoping that his days on the sidelines are behind him and the move could kick start his career. Lyon will be hoping for a similar reaction from the transfer, with Briand being the man to fire them to their first league title in three attempts.

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