Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Rennes: Stéphan to stay, Ben Arfa to go

Publish on at - S. WILLIS


Stade Rennais FC have signed Coupe de France-winning coach Julien Stéphan to a long-term contract while star playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa, whose contract has come to term, will be leaving in the summer.

The recently concluded 2018-19 season was an historic one for Rennes, who overcame a troubled start to the season to win the Coupe de France, make it to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 with some spectacular performances and finish in the top half of the Ligue 1 Conforama table.

Stéphan on board

Evidently keen to build on this success, Rennes' directors have moved to lock down coach Julien Stéphan, who played a huge role in the club's turnaround when he took the coaching reins from Sabri Lamouchi in December. Initially signed on a contract running through to the end of the season, Stéphan is now the Stade Rennais FC boss through to 2022, having put pen to paper on an extension on Monday.

"It's a great point of pride to pursue my mission with the first team," said Stéphan, 38, after putting pen to paper. "This season has been historic and rich in emotions."

Ben Arfa bails

But it's a different story for one of the club's other key men, Hatem Ben Arfa. The 32-year-old playmaker was the lynchpin in Rennes' exciting brand of attacking football, serving as a  conduit for the talents of Ismaila Sarr, Mbaye Niang and Benjamin Bourigeaud.

However, after declaring late in the season that he was "no longer enjoying [his] football", Ben Arfa declined extend his contract, which came to term at the end of the season, and will be leaving Roazhon Park on a free over the summer. , with the likes of Turkish giants Besiktas and Spanish contenders Sevilla reportedly interested in the France international.

Létang: 'He brought us so much'

"He's someone who brought us so much over the course of the season," explained club president Olivier Létang. "But we all know how things got towards the end of the campaign. What is important is the club and the team. Hatem will not be at Stade Rennais next season. He needs to enjoy his football and if he can't do that here with us, he should obviously look elsewhere."

The former Lyon, Marseille, Newcastle, Nice and Paris midfielder should have no shortage of suitors, with Turkish giants Besiktas and Spanish contenders Sevilla reportedly interested in securing his services.