New-look Lyon out to continue unbeaten start
By A. Scott
Unbeaten so far this season and with a major squad overhaul in the transfer window now complete, Olympique Lyonnais are focused on a home clash with EA Guingamp on Sunday.
Olympique Lyonnais - EA Guingamp
Live scoring and statistics from 1700 CET (1500 GMT) Sunday
A total of 17 players left OL either permanently or on loan in the transfer window, with the last departure being that of midfielder Sergi Darder on loan to RCD Espanyol. Meanwhile, eight new faces have come in, with two arriving in the final days of the window last week.
Lyon moved to strengthen their midfield with the signings of Senegal-born Spanish youth international Pape Cheikh Diop from Celta Vigo for a fee rising to €14 million with bonuses before Tanguy Ndombele followed him into the Groupama Stadium for a reported €11 million from Amiens SC.
Ndombele has signed a five-year deal after opting to move to Lyon despite reported interest from Hoffenheim and Internazionale, as OL rebuild in the centre of the park after the sales of Corentin Tolisso and Maxime Gonalons.
Highlights: Lyon are held at Nantes
"It was the best choice for my progression. This is an ambitious club, one of the top three in France. Once OL's interest was concrete, I wanted to come to Lyon and nowhere else. This is a change from being at Amiens, but being at Lyon is not an end in itself. I need to keep on working and making progress," said Ndombele at his presentation on Friday.
The 20-year-old, who is a former Guingamp youth player, is fresh from winning his first two caps for the France under-21 side but said he did not think he was ready to make his debut for his new club just yet. But coach Bruno Genesio will be eager to call as soon as possible on a player who president Jean-Michel Aulas likened to a certain Michael Essien, a star of the great team of the last decade.
Lyon have spent more than €70 million on new signings while bringing in €125 million in sales and it is over to Genesio to gel together a successful team. Marcelo, Bertrand Traoré, Mariano Díaz, Kenny Tete, Ferland Mendy and Marçal have also come in and the early signs have been promising enough, with OL unbeaten so far this campaign. After winning their opening two matches, they drew two in a row before the international break, 3-3 at home to Girondins de Bordeaux and 0-0 at FC Nantes.
Salibur left out
Genesio's side now welcome Guingamp to the Groupama Stadium in a game they need to win to set themselves up for a week in which they will go to Cyprus to face Apollon Limassol in the UEFA Europa League and then go to Paris Saint-Germain. Revenge is the name of the game for OL, who lost home and away to Guingamp in the league last season and were also dumped out of the Coupe de la Ligue by the same opponents on penalties.
Highlights: Guingamp get better of Strasbourg
The visitors come into the game fresh from a 2-0 win at home to RC Strasbourg Alsace prior to the international break, a result that left them in mid-table, two points behind OL. Antoine Kombouaré's side, who have already lost to PSG and OGC Nice this season, also had a busy transfer window and Franck Tabanou is hoping for a debut following his return to France from Swansea City. Meanwhile, Slovenian Denis Petric signed from Angers SCO just before the deadline as a back-up to Karl-Johan Johnsson in goal.
One man who did not move in the window was Yannis Salibur. The winger had appeared set to move to AS Saint-Etienne in a deal worth in the region of €10 million, but the transfer fell through at the last minute. Kombouaré gave Salibur a few days off in the wake of that affair and the 26-year-old will therefore miss this game before returning to training next week.
Lyon: Lopes; Rafael, Marcelo, Morel, Marçal; Tousart, Ferri; Traoré, Fekir, Depay; Mariano Diaz
Guingamp: Johnsson; Ikoko, Kerbrat, Sorbon, Reboche; Diallo, Phiri, Deaux; Camara, Briand, Coco