Girard '99% certain to stay', Belhanda for sale
Montpellier president Louis Nicollin says René Girard, the coach who brought the title to the club, is "99% certain to stay", and admits he'd accept an offer of 15 million euros for Moroccan international playmaker Younes Belhanda.
Montpellier owner Nicollin has been at the club since the mid-1970s but had to wait until 2012 for the southerners to claim the first Ligue 1 title in their history. Girard, who joined in 2009, is out of contract at the end of the season.
Nicollin told RMC radio: "We won't rush things. We'll wait for March, April and then we'll talk. When you've done four years at a club it takes it out of you. But if he wants to renew his contract, then he'll renew his contract. When a president hands the reins over to his coach and you have the results we've had, I'm a bit reticent. Things seem to be going better now. He's 99% certain to stay at Montpellier."
Montpellier are currently 11th in Ligue 1 despite a recent improvement which has seen them close to within five points of fifth-placed Lorient. MHSC have not recaptured the form that propelled them to the title.
Belhanda sparkled last season with 12 goals and four assists to be crowned Ligue 1's young player of the year. Now though Nicollin is open to offers for the 22-year-old, who will feature for Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa this month.
Nicollin: "I think he wants to leave"
Nicollin said: "I think he wants to leave. I'm not angry but since the start of the season I don't think he's met expectations or lived up to the promise he'd shown. It's normal that he wants to move on and catch fire elsewhere. I think it's finished for him at Montpellier.
"The price? If it rises to 15 million euros then everything's good. Hazard left Lille for 42 million euros. Today, Belhanda isn't even ankle-high to Hazard, even if I said in the past that he had two Hazard's in his legs. I think he's worth 15 million nevertheless."
L'Equipe newspaper reports Turkish club Fenerbahçe as having offered eight million euros, while adding English club Tottenham Hotspur could enter the race.