Jeff Reine Adélaïde confirms that OGC Nice tried to sign him last summer

Speaking to reporters during a press conference on Thursday, French youth international attacking midfielder Jeff Reine Adélaïde confirmed that Ligue 1 side OGC Nice, who he joined on Monday on loan with an option to buy from Lyon, tried to sign him last summer too.

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“They are a club that has been following me for a number of years. Since I was at Arsenal, and last year again but their offers came a little bit late because I made the decision to join Lyon. I think that today is the good moment. The fact that the board have come several times show that they really wanted me. Nice is a very ambitious club that want to be competitive on all fronts.”

PROSPECT | Ignatius Ganago

When assessing the current top scorers table in the early stages of the Ligue 1 season, one name that stands out is Ignatius Ganago, the 21-year-old forward for RC Lens. Signed from OGC Nice for a fee of €6m in the summer, Ganago has performed impressively so far, scoring four goals in his first six games for the club. Despite the small sample size, there is evidence that the goalscoring form could continue.

After a season at Nice played predominantly on the wings, Ganago has immediately established himself as one of the forwards in the 3-4-1-2 formation utilised by Lens this season. Despite only playing a total of 309 minutes in his 1stsix games for the club, Ganago is joint-top scorer along with Gaël Kakuta. However, it is important to note that all four Kakuta’s goals this season have come from the penalty spot, with Ganago winning two of these penalties.

Ganago has already improved upon his highest goalscoring tally for a Ligue 1 season. Last season at Nice he featured in 26 league games, starting in 12, and only managed a return of three goals and one assist. The majority of these games, however, were spent on the wings whereas only 274 of his 1231 league minutes involved him playing as a central striker. The shot map below from last season displays a variety of low xG shots, with nearly 50% of them coming from outside of the box. It also shows that his three league goals came from three of his highest xG shots in central areas which demonstrates that Ganago is a capable finisher when in the right positions.

2019/20 xG shot map – Ignatius Ganago (then at OGC Nice)

This season however, Ganago’s new role in a front two has enabled him to maximise his finishing ability, scoring four goals from 13 shots. The shot map below for the current season displays clearly the difference in his position this season, with 92% of Ganago’s shots being taken inside the box and mostly from central positions. The underlying numbers provide more evidence that the quality of his shots have improved. Last season, Ganago achieved an xG of 2.9 from a total of 17 shots whereas he has already generated 3.8 xG from his 13 shots this season. This is a difference of 0.12 xG per shot which is a significant increase and can be owed in part to his change in position.

2020/21 xG shot map – Ignatius Ganago (RC Lens)

Both Ganago and RC Lens manager Franck Haise have also commented on his improved goalscoring return since his move to the club. Speaking to The Ligue 1 Show, Ganago said: “For me, it changes everything! I’m back in my preferred position. I’m delighted, I’m enjoying myself and I’ll continue enjoying myself, I hope I can score lots of goals this season!” His manager added: “He’s here on the back of a few season at Nice where he was playing out of position, or at least not the one we are playing him in. I think he’s happier as a central striker.”

When comparing against the other top scorers in the league this season, Ganago’s numbers look even more impressive. The chart below displays Number of Shots vs Non-Penalty xG per Shot for players with at least 4 goals in Ligue 1 this season. Of the 13 players in this list, the young Lens forward is top for npxG/Sh with a value of 0.29 from 13 shots. It’s worth noting that since his sample size is smaller than most players, with the second lowest number of shots in the list, this high xG value could be considered unsustainable and it is possible that it will decrease eventually once the sample size increases. Currently, Ganago is taking better quality shots on average than the likes of Kylian Mbappé and Karl Toko Ekambi, but it must be noted that these established forwards have taken almost twice as many shots.

This graph explains the current lethality of Ignatius Ganago in front of goal

Ganago’s low number of shots compared to the other players in the list can be attributed mostly to his lower number of minutes. The Lens striker was injured 15 minutes into a game at home to Saint-Etienne after receiving a bad tackle from centre back Timothée Kolodziejczak. Ganago won his side a penalty from the foul but was unable to continue and hasn’t played since due to a sprained ankle. He is expected to return to the side after the current international break and will be hoping to pick up where he left off.

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Noticeable improvements in some other key metrics also deserve a mention, but should be taken with a pinch of salt, as Ganago has currently played just under a quarter of the minutes that he managed with Nice last season. Touches in Box per 90 is up from 3.34 last season to 8.26 in 20/21, a value that is in the 95th percentile of Top-5 League forwards. An increase in this value is expected due to his shift to a more central position, but a value of 8.26 puts him in the same bracket as other top strikers such as Erling Braut Haaland and Robert Lewandowski at this early stage. Ganago also finds himself in the 97th percentile for Successful Dribbles per 90 with a value of 4.13, an increase from 1.67 last season. This is one of the highest values for a central forward in the Top-5 Leagues and when considering strikers with at least three 90s played, only Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi are above him in the list.

Overall, despite his relatively low number of minutes, Ignatius Ganago has had a great start to the season and is thriving in his new central role at Lens. It is difficult to judge whether he can keep this form up after a return from injury but the underlying numbers suggest that his current goalscoring return is more than just a fluke and Lens fans will be expecting more of the same after the international break.

E.B.

OPINION | Why PSG must go for Mauricio Pochettino

This isn’t a reactionary thought, at least not reactionary off the back of the losses to RB Leipzig and Manchester United in the Champions’ League. If anything, that loss against the Red Devils just highlighted everything wrong with the current incarnation of Paris Saint-Germain. Naturally, whenever PSG lose, the post-match analysis revolves around the same themes. It always seems to be same talking points: “Neymar is overrated, he’s not good enough to lead an elite team,” “Mbappé will be leaving in the summer, he’s wasting his time in France,” “what does this mean for the future of the PSG manager?”

Of course, some of the analysis is valid. That the recruitment strategy of Paris Saint-Germain be in the firing line is certainly justified following a bizarre summer of business. Whilst this development certain hasn’t suddenly appeared out of nowhere following the defeats to Man United and RB Leipzig, the losses themselves did highlight the initial feelings towards the transfer window. Another point that didn’t just appear after these defeats was the future of manager Thomas Tuchel, further shining a light on the breaking down of the relationship between the German and PSG’s Sporting Director Leonardo, with the duo in public revolt against each other.

But for perhaps the first time in Tuchel’s reign at the Parc des Princes, a sizeable number of PSG supporters are starting to seriously question whether he is the right man for the job. Tuchel does split opinion and you’ll probably find some fans that wanted him gone at the end of the previous season, but after reaching the Champions’ League final it was only fair to give him the chance to start again. After the loss to United, Tuchel said it was “by far, one of our worst games, one of our worst first halves,” and explained that “It was not our level. I don’t know why, but I can just say that it was not our level, in moving the ball, in possession, in counter-attacking, in challenges, in intensity.”

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For the first time, Tuchel looked lost, out of ideas and completely devoid of anything remotely positive. He’d been tussling with the board for signings in the summer, now he’s got an uninterested and lopsided looking attack, a non-existent midfield and a defence that can be outstanding one week to a complete disaster the next. In a way, I feel sorry for him and perhaps, in the nicest way possible, it’s time for the German to move on. Maybe, Tuchel and PSG have just had their fill of one another and need something new to freshen things up. And if he was to depart the Parc des Princes, that leaves the door open to a lot of new ideas.

If Tuchel was to go, to my mind, there is only one person who can step into the Parisian hot seat and take charge. It’s someone who has played for the club, who is used to working under a Sporting Director, who has taken his former club to the next level on a budget – which could come in handy if the threat of FFP looms over PSG – and has a habit of playing exciting, exhilarating and refreshing brand of football. If you ask the majority of fans at his former club, they’d simply reply with ‘he’s magic, you know?’ Of course, it’s Mauricio Pochettino.

Yes, you’ll get the whole argument about not managing to win trophies but maybe it’s time for PSG to look to the future rather than just the here and now. PSG will, as long as they don’t mess it up for themselves, win domestically. It’s just how they do so. But they’ve struggled to build for the future and failed to build a proper ‘team’, the contrary situation to what Pochettino achieved at Spurs. He built *his* team, a team that reached a Champions’ League Final and could have (and should have) won at least one Premier League title, while PSG have just consistently bought for the present and worried about the consequences later because they’ve always had the financial capability to plug the gaps in their team in an instant. But with the right backing and with a say in the transfer market, he could build something special with PSG. So let’s just imagine we’re in the boardroom at Paris Saint-Germain and we’ve been given permission to map out Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG side.Keylor Navas, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, Marco Verratti & one of Neymar/Kylian Mbappé are untouchable (one of Neymar & Mbappé will leave the club and you’d imagine it’s the latter due to age, hype and the rest of it). Pochettino’s teams play with flying full backs, so that’s two players that you need to invest in. The midfield needs a complete overhaul and while Idrissa Gueye and Ander Herrera are good, competent midfielders, they cannot be your starters anymore. The number one target for PSG has to be Eduardo Camavinga, it just makes too much sense. Pochettino and youth is a good mix, so it would be a perfect fit for the pair of them. Neymar, Di Maria, Icardi are a front three that have plenty about them, but Icardi perhaps isn’t the world class striker that PSG thought they were getting, Neymar needs to be played centrally and Di Maria isn’t getting any younger, so you’d imagine that he’d at least be on the list of positions that need replacing.

At this point, you’ve convinced the PSG board that a total rebuild is needed and you need to focus on who to centre it around, but you don’t focus it around one player, you focus it on a spine. Every great team has a great spine, which you have with Navas, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Verratti and Neymar, but you need to solidify that. They still need to replace Thiago Motta’s positional nous in midfield, they probably should have kept hold of Cavani had it been possible and they need a long term replacement for Verratti (Camavinga is the one, honestly, just make the move).

And who better to lead a rebuild that one that nearly took Tottenham Hotspur to glory with one only a few seasons ago? He brought Harry Kane to an elite level, turned Dele Alli into one of the most unique players in the world while also giving the likes of Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason, Alex Pritchard, Harry Winks, Andros Townsend, Kyle Walker-Peters, Oliver Skipp and Josh Onomah a shot. It’s not exactly the Galacticos, but it’s a lot of decent, talented players who speak highly of Pochettino. PSG always produce top young players, higher than the standard of the majority of the names listed above, so Pochettino would be like a god send to some of them. 

Take it from me, I’ve watched Spurs my entire life. There’s been ups and there’s been even more downs, but never has a team filled me with the level of confidence that Pochettino’s Tottenham did. The feeling of ‘Spurs are nailed on to win this’ was implemented by Pochettino, as well as an incredible style of play, a new attitude and a new feeling. Ultimately it ended on a sad note, nearly mirroring what’s going on at the moment with Thomas Tuchel. Pochettino was lost, out of ideas and on the way out at Spurs because his time at the club was up. Just like Tuchel.

Spurs made the change of manager when it was deemed necessary, perhaps it’s time that PSG did the same thing too? Perhaps Les Parisiens must move past forming an identity based around a single player or a philosophy of throwing cash at a problem. No, they need a proper identity and a system to match the expectations of the club. Max Allegri is a good manager, but is he the right fit for PSG? I guarantee, you will not find someone more suited to Paris Saint-Germain than Mauricio Pochettino.

T.S.

FEATURE | How Leonardo conducts his transfer business

PSG Sporting Director Leonardo has come under heavy criticism over the course of this summer transfer window for a perceived lack of acumen and a bevvy of surprising last minute signings including the arrivals of Italian international attacker Moise Kean on loan from Everton courtesy of Mino Raiola, defensive midfielder Danilo Pereira on loan with an obligation to buy from FC Porto and attacking midfielder Rafinha on a free transfer from Barcelona.

Eurosport FR produced a fascinating report earlier this month detailing the Brazilian’s methods and how he conducts his transfer business. Extracts.

Less than 24 hours after his name first appeared in the press as a PSG target, Alessandro Florenzi had signed for the capital club.

RMC journalist Loïc Tanzi viewed this deal as emblematic of the work that Leonardo does:

“Everyone takes the example of Florenzi, but the deal was closed in three days. There was no need to keep it secret because it was done at an incredible speed: he enquired, two days after it was in the media, three days after it was done.”

Something that an Italian close to the deal confirmed to Eurosport FR:

“Leonardo is very good friends with Alessandro Lucci, his agent. He has always had a lot of Brazilians, like Cafu, Serginho etc… Leonardo knows who Lucci is. They are on the same wavelength: release the information only when we need to, prevent leaks etc… This discretion, Leonardo appreciates it a lot.”

In the transfer window, silence is golden, so Sporting Director Leonardo seeks to limit the amount of intermediaries involved in any of his deals, something that Kevin Ménez, adviser to Jérémy Ménez, confirms:

“Leonardo has always been a bit mysterious in his deal-making. This discretion is part of Leonardo’s protocol. To sign a player, he wants to be super discreet and also asks that of the player and the entourage concerned because he knows the industry too well, he knows how things happen.”

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Agent Christophe Hutteau adds: “With Leonardo, it is quite clear, if a deal you are doing leaks, it is very likely he will drop it. Today, if one of your players really interests PSG and that you know that Leonardo’s personality is such that if it leaks, it puts you in a difficult position, of course you are going to bite your tongue.”

Someone close to Milan goes further: “He threatens agents if leaks happen. Through collapsing a deal or lowering a commission…”

Tanzi explains that Leonardo’s inner circle is extremely tight:

“He works with Angelo Castelazzi, who is his assistant and then one or two guys who he works more with in the PSG recruitment department. And that is it. Everything runs through them. The coach stays informed, so does the president and the owner, because they are decision-makers, but it doesn’t go any further than that.”

Hutteau provides further insight into Leonardo’s transfer window methodology:

“When you offer him a player, a possible deal, he listens to you and he responds. On the other hand, if he is interested in a deal, he is the one who gets into contact with you.”

Tanzi explains that Leonardo will spend weeks or even months sounding out an agent, getting to know them, so that when he does want to close a deal for their client, things can move very quickly, as occurred during this summer transfer window:

“Concretely, for the midfielders, the defenders, he talks to ten, fifteen people for ten, fifteen different players. But for two, three months, things didn’t really progress, dragging on, being discussed. There were meetings, phone calls… Then at one moment, he will clearly position himself on a guy. But, as he will have created a real relationship with the agent, things at that point will go much faster. When he will have decided to make the move, he will know the conditions in which a deal for the player can be done, he will have a good relationship with the agent who he will have known for three months, he will know the demands of the selling club so he will be able to make the right offer. That is why it moves very quickly.”

“When there is nothing concrete, as a journalist, we can’t bring anything out (common because of the way that Leonardo works). Take the example of Dele Alli. At the beginning, it was a discussion that was had between agents and PSG. The club said “Ok, why not… It is interesting… a loan is possible? Yes, or no? Ok, we will see, we will call you.” But nothing advanced, not even concrete interest.”

Official | Jemerson sold by AS Monaco to Corinthians

Ligue 1 side AS Monaco announced on Friday that they had completed the transfer of 28-year-old Brazilian central defender Jemerson to Corinthians for an undisclosed fee.

The former Atletico Mineiro defender has had a heavy fall from grace, having been 50% of the central defensive partnership that won AS Monaco the Ligue 1 title in 2017.

Jemerson moves to a side that currently sits 11th in the Brazilian 1st division.

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Nantes President Kita banned for 2 months from matches following “behaviour towards officials”

Ligue 1 side Nantes’ President Waldemar Kita has received a 4 month suspension from the touchline, referee dressing room and all formal functions, owing to his behaviour towards officials during his club’s recent 3-0 loss to PSG.

2 months of this suspension is handed down as suspended, so it will only be 2 months of active suspension, unless he further aggravates the situation.

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Presnel Kimpembe aiming for starting spot at EURO 2021

Speaking on Téléfoot, PSG central defender Presnel Kimpembe admitted that his stated aim for this season is to take on the mantle from Samuel Umtiti and become France’s leading left-sided central defender for EURO 2021.

“My aim is to play matches and why not be a starter at the Euros. In terms of concentration, I am trying to rid of my existing faults. When there are difficult situations, you need to know how to rid of the ball. Whether that is the Champions’ League with PSG, or with the French national team, the aim is to win it all. All.”

 

 

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Thiago Mendes’ family receives death threats following his challenge on Neymar

Lyon’s Brazilian defensive midfielder Thiago Mendes has suffered in the last 48 hours, after he made a late challenge on compatriot Neymar in Sunday night’s 1-0 victory over PSG at the Parc des Princes.

Neymar went down in agony, yelling and in visible pain as he was stretchered off, with many fearing a possible ankle break had occurred. It has since emerged that the Brazilian superstar’s injury is much less serious than feared, and he could even be in line to play against Lille on Sunday, according to Thomas Tuchel.

Thiago Mendes’ wife, Kelly, has however according to CNEWS revealed that she, her husband, and their family have received death threats following the incident, including as follows:

“For your boyfriend’s actions, if anything happens to Neymar, you will pay with your life. You and your family, one by one.”

Following a flood of such aggressions, Kelly Mendes has also confirmed that she has sent all of the offending messages to the police. Lyon also intend to protect their player and take legal action on his behalf if necessary.

Mendes was sent off for the challenge on Neymar and is therefore suspended for Wednesday night’s clash with Brest.

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Kylian Mbappé wants certain guarantees in order to sign a PSG extension

Le Parisien report that 21-year-old French attacker Kylian Mbappé is seeking certain guarantees in order to sign a contract extension with PSG, with his current deal expiring in June 2022.

This weekend, PSG Sporting Director Leonardo commented publicly to Canal Plus on the contract situation of the French youngster:

“We are speaking calmly. We have made a step forward in the last 10 days.”

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This statement confirms the trend in recent days of reporting that Mbappé is open to listening to what PSG will offer – he is hesitating, and whilst he earns €1.9m a month gross, he is asking above all for certain sporting guarantees.

Staying at PSG is not going to hurt him financially, in terms of what Liverpool or Real Madrid could offer, because every club has been majorly impacted by COVID-19. He is also paying close attention to the club’s contract extension talks with Neymar. The outlet claims that Marco Verratti and Neymar are both trying to encourage the Frenchman to sign a new deal.

PSG don’t intend to be forced into making sales despite financial trouble

Le Parisien report that PSG do not intend to be forced into making player sales during the January transfer window despite the club facing financial trouble in the eyes of FFP regulations, as well as their own P&L.

The January window opens on Saturday for French clubs and the natural question which goes along with it is what will Qatari-owned PSG do? The natural instinct would be to try to sell players to make up for the financial losses suffered owing to COVID-19 and the lack of supporters in the stands, as well as the broadcast deal fiasco.

However, Les Parisiens’ squad is filled with injuries and a sell-off would give Mauricio Pochettino little to no time to get acquainted with the players he would want to evaluate before making departure decisions.

In terms of outgoings, Leandro Paredes has been regularly mentioned in a swap deal with Inter Milan for Christian Eriksen by the Italian media. Although PSG like canny transfer deals, such as the loans of Moise Kean and Alessandro Florenzi, as well as the free transfer signing of Rafinha, this swap is basically impossible to achieve.

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Paredes, like Julian Draxler, has no intention of leaving the club in January, and also, PSG do not need to strengthen in attacking midfield.

Idrissa Gueye’s position is similar – he would only consider leaving for a fellow top eight European club.

Les Parisiens could face €200m in losses this season, added to the €115m in losses incurred in 2019/20 – will this level of financial health be acceptable to UEFA, even with their recent easement policy on FFP.

Sources tell Le Parisien that PSG believe that UEFA should make another round of reforms to further filter down FFP, owing to the continued COVID-19 situation. For January, activity in the French capital is expected to be bordering on non-existent.