Sunday, May 15, 2011

The year for Lille, enjoy it while you can LOSC

Lille seems well on its way for the French double, after defeating PSG for the Coupe de France title. They are also 3 points clear from OM, after Marseilles drew this weekend, with a game in hand as well, with 2 days left in the Ligue 1 race. Lille will face Sochaux this week, a make up game from their Coupe de France match this weekend, then face PSG and complete the season with Rennes. While Marseilles have to face Valeciennes and then end with Caen. Clearly Lille have the more difficult clubs to face with PSG and Rennes having legitimate European aspirations. LOSC does have a healthy goal differential, so figure they have an extra point lead versus the defending champion.

LOSC should be lifting the league title in a few weeks. It will be the crowning moment for a club that has been slowly rising the ranks in France. A club that a few seasons ago had to play their Champions League matches at Stade de France as well as in Lens because their stadium was not up to standards! With a new stadium in the works, this should not be an issue. However not sure that heading to Europe on a regular basis will be a problem either.

Off to the sunshine of Spain
I fear that Lille will suffer next season due to their success. They will head to the Champions League with a French double in their trophy case...but how many of the players that helped them win this silverware still be wearing the red of LOSC? Rami, the French central defender and stalwart for Lille, will be in La Liga playing for Valencia. Rami has logged over 120 matches for Lille and is one of Ligue 1's best central defenders. Not an easy player to replace. What about Sow and Gervinho? Both players account for close to 50 goals for LOSC over the past few seasons. Gervinho was rumored to be heading East last transfer season. The Ivorian was a potential transfer target for big name clubs in both Turkey and Greece, now he is rumored to be heading to England. What about Sow who came over last season from Rennes? As the leading goal scorer in Ligue 1, I am sure he will be attracting attention from other clubs - PSG could use another striker, what about Marseilles and Lyon? Alternatively I could see him heading abroad - Juventus and Villareal could be looking for a striker. What about Mavuba, Cabaye and Landreau? None of these French internationals have been linked with any deep transfer talk, but I am sure someone will come sniffing around to see what it might take to get them to move. Finally the jewel for Lille - Hazard.

The Belgian version of Messi is on all the big clubs' wish list: AC Milan, Arsenal, Manchester United, Real Madrid to name a few. LOSC did sign Hazard to an extension, but that is only to increase his value, I doubt that LOSC really believes they will be able to hold on to this prospect. Question becomes, how high will the bidding go and who will land him? When Lille lose some if not all of these players, who will be left next season to compete in Europe? Lille have been able to recruit and build around some core players - Mavuba, Rami to name a few - and add some good Ligue 1 talent - Sow and Landreau being examples. Finally they unearthed some solid youth - Hazard. Yet with success come the sharks that are the big European clubs.

I fear that like sharks in a feeding frenzy, many of Lille's assets will be stripped from their grasp. Granted Lille should find their coffers swelling with cash. Question becomes can they identify and replenish their roster with players capable of competing in the Champions League as well as Ligue 1?

It will be a tough task no doubt. So LOSC fans, enjoy this while you can...


Jeff said...

I caught that final. Good result, obviously, for Lille. The double would be a brilliant achievement. I'm having to take a closer look at the Lille players.

GFC said...

Lille has some talent in their ranks no doubt, I fear it will be playing for other teams next season...