Jean-Michel Aulas

Lyon Ligue 1
Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

Lyon asks French prime minister to reconsider early end of Ligue 1 season

2 Comments

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas is asking French authorities to backpedal on their decision to end the football season prematurely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The men’s league was canceled four weeks ago with 10 rounds remaining, Paris Saint-Germain declared champion, and Lyon finished outside the European places in seventh.

In a letter on Monday to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, Aulas argued the premature conclusion of the season will have catastrophic consequences for French clubs, which could face losses of “700 to 900” million euros ($760 million to $980 million).

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Alongside Amiens and Toulouse – the two clubs demoted to the second division – Lyon took action against the league decision but their case was thrown out last week by a Paris administrative court. Lyon now wants France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, to issue a ruling on the matter.

In the letter, Aulas said the fact that the French league was the only one among the seven biggest European leagues to opt for an early end should convince authorities to reconsider their move.

In Europe, the Dutch and Belgian leagues have also ended their 2019-20 seasons early.

Aulas has argued for the French league to be given a chance to be completed by late August with a temporary playoff system, but with PSG staying the champion given its large lead before play was stopped.

“The Bundesliga resumed matches on May 16, Spain will resume matches on June 8. Italy, Russia and Portugal have resumed collective training and England is working on a resumption after June 19,” Aulas wrote. “How can France not be downgraded very quickly and see its professional football devalued?”

On June 2, the French government is expected to make further announcements related to France’s lockdown exit strategy.

“Many developments and hopes are expected on this date, so that France can gradually regain a good dynamic,” Aulas said. “Could we imagine that June 2 is also a great opportunity to rectify the mistake concerning French football and to allow, with a health protocol used everywhere, to give the starting point for a gradual resumption of training (in June) and, why not, a resumption of the 2019-2020 season over the months of July or August?”

Lyon, meanwhile, still hopes to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League after beating Italian champion Juventus 1-0 in the first leg of their round of 16 match on Feb. 26. The return leg in Turin was suspended.

FFF president rips Lyon leader: ‘The only enemy today is the virus’

Ligue 1
JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The French Football Federation’s president isn’t holding back when it comes to the thoughts of Lyon president that the Ligue 1 season should be “null and void” due to the coronavirus.

Well, if he is holding back, then we’d love to hear his unobstructed takes on the matter.

Lyon boss Jean-Michel Aulas claimed earlier this week that the Ligue 1 season should be annulled and that European qualifiers would remain the same as 2018/19 while no teams would be relegated to Ligue 2.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It should, of course, be noted that Aulas is acting only out of self-preservation. Lyon qualified for the Champions League last season but is nine points back of the top four.

See-through stuff, and Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud called the comments “the selfishness of someone whose only compass is his participation in the Champions League.”

Marseille, you could probably guess, sits in a UCL place after failing to qualify last season.

French football president Noel Le Graet took it even further, blasting Aulas for his comments and taking aim at Eyraud for the response.

From the AFP, via France24.com:

“I don’t want any controversy. It’s the French Football Federation that will decide if it continues or not, the only enemy today is the virus,” he said.

“I find it quite ridiculous, stupid, clumsy and inappropriate to what’s happening,” he added, asking the two club presidents “to calm down and be dignified in their statements, which make no sense and don’t make them any bigger.”

He’s right, even if his past resume is far from unimpeachable. The Lyon president is acting foolishly, and Eyraud would’ve done better to hold his tongue.

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

UEFA Champions League Weds. preview: Salah time and Lyon’s opportunity

Martin Rickett/PA via AP
Leave a comment

Liverpool’s going to need to score on Wednesday at the Allianz Arena, preferably before penalty kicks, and the Reds have just the guy to do that.

Mohamed Salah is on a five-match dry spell in terms of goals, but the Egyptian star has done plenty of playmaking in the interim.

[ MORE: Man City clobbers Schalke ]

He’ll be getting plenty of attention from Bayern Munich, because Liverpool can advance to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals via a win or scoring draw.

Still, there’s no question he could use production on a big stage like this, as he continues to draw comparisons to some of the game’s greats. While Salah has been sensational in the Premier League, scoring 17 goals with seven assists in 30 games, he’s simply been pretty good in the UCL (three goals, no assists, in seven games).

He’s completing 69 percent of his passes in the UCL compared to 76 in the PL, and 2.1 dribbles per game compared to one. With plenty of respect to Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, and an acknowledgment that the standard UCL match brings more attention than the standard PL game, that’s not going to cut it.

As for Wednesday’s other second leg, Lyon has a chance to spring a monumental upset of Barcelona and turn the whole competition on its ear.

Barca and Lyon played a scoreless draw in France, meaning a score draw can do the trick for the Ligue 1 visitors on Wednesday.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has maybe the pick of the quote litter, when it comes to the challenge faced by his club.

“It will be terribly difficult. The stadium will be full with one of the best teams in the world. We have a great desire to show that a French team can go further. It would be historic. It would be an unpretentious feat, but in line with what we want to do. This team plays brilliantly against top opposition.

“It’s a pleasure to come here, but there’s also the risk of leaving with less pleasure than when we arrived. Don’t be overwhelmed, but at the same time realize that this is a great opportunity. The squad believes in itself.”

Who goes through from the 0-0 match-ups?

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Walker to City close, Inter wants Szczesny

Getty Images
1 Comment

With the start of preseason getting closer, teams are hoping to do their business in time to get new players a full bill of health and fitness before the new season. With that in mind, the transfer action truly begins to heat up with clubs under the crunch of time.

With Manchester City heading to the United States for a preseason tour of America, they’re looking to do deals before the trip begins to have everyone on board. Kyle Walker has been heavily linked with City, and it looks like Daniel Levy’s steadfasness will pay off yet again for the London side.

[ MORE: Saturday Roundup | Fri | Thurs ]

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Tottenham will wriggle nearly $62 million from City for Walker’s services. Levy knows that Pep Guardiola is desperate for top-tier full-backs after seeing his full bank of players in that position struggle mightily. Now, Levy may successfully extract a small fortune for his England international, and with plenty of time to re-invest on his replacement. The report suggests the deal could be done in time for Walker to face Spurs in their friendly on July 29th in Nashville.


Sticking to full-backs, Juventus may be looking to replace both its standout performers on the flanks last season. Dani Alves seems set to move on, while Alex Sandro has been heavily linked to Chelsea.

Hoping to pull in top-level replacements in a position that proves to be quite top-heavy throughout the world, Juventus has turned to Southampton’s Cedric Soares. The 25-year-old has enjoyed a bright Confederations Cup on duty with Portugal, and may have turned heads in Italy as a result.

The report from Italian publication Tuttosport linking Cedric to the Old Lady states that, while Juventus will first look to pry Danilo from Real Madrid, Cedric could be a cheaper option with his price tag under $22 million. The article also mentions Valencia’s Joao Cancelo as an option for Juventus at the right-back spot.


Alexandre Lacazette is a top striker option on the market this summer, and while it feels like his domino is waiting to fall after Kylian Mbappe’s, there could be a wrinkle involved with the Lyon frontman.

Atletico Madrid was heavily linked to Lacazette as a replacement for Antoine Griezmann before their transfer ban was handed down. Now, with Griezmann staying, those links cooled as Atleti is unable to register new players until the January transfer window. Yet, there may still be a chance for the Spanish side to land yet another French striker.

According to loose-lipped Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, Atletico Madrid submitted a large offer for Lacazette, and the Spanish side is still a heavy player in the story. Should Atleti’s bid be accepted, Lacazette would likely stay at Lyon for the first half of the season and complete his transfer to Spain in the winter transfer window. Aulas said Atletico’s offer was in the area of $75 million, including bonuses. That’s some stiff competition for Arsenal or any other big-name club hoping to secure Lacazette’s signature.

Aulas also confirmed he met with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on June 13th during the match between England and France. Just yesterday, there were reports that Arsenal was preparing a large bid for the Frenchman.


In the same interview, Aulas also confirmed that Chelsea youngster Bertrand Traore is close to a move to Lyon. Aulas said that the 21-year-old is currently in Lyon to finalize the move, although the fee had yet to be finalized, only saying that it was “considerable.”

Traore, a Burkina Faso international, was an AJ Auxerre youth product before joining Chelsea’s youth ranks in 2013. The young attacker spent last season on loan at Dutch club Ajax where he made 39 appearances across all competitions, scoring 13 goals and assisting six.


Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has benefitted greatly from his two-year loan spell at AS Roma. Despite his future looking bleak with the Gunners, Szczesny is a wanted man in Italy.

Linked with a bid from Juventus earlier this month, Szczesny has now been heavily connected to his former Roma manager Luciano Spaletti who has recently taken charge at Inter Milan. Spaletti already has one of the best pure shot-stoppers in Europe in Samir Handanovic, but according to reports in Italy, Spaletti wants Handanovic to improve with the ball at his feet, something which he praised Szczesny for earlier this week.

Spaletti, hoping to diffuse interest in Szczesny, told Sky Sports Italia on Thursday, “We already have Samir Handanovic, who is very experienced and strong. I’ve already worked with him and I know his quality. For the moment we’ve got him. Obviously Szczesny is a modern player, because he can use his feet and in modern football you need that to start moves from the back.”

Now, reports in Italy say Spaletti has asked Handanovic to undergo targeted training hoping to improve his ability with the ball at his feet. Should he refuse, the club would look to sell the Serbian in favor of Szczesny, a move which could also potentially net the club some cash.


With Romelu Lukaku rumors seeing renewed fervor after the player enjoyed a pickup game on a field branded with Chelsea logos, the Everton striker has taken to social media to vent his frustration.

Lukaku has told reporters multiple times that returning to Everton is not really an option, and that he has an agreement with a club already, but otherwise, the Chelsea links are all fans have to go off at this time.

Lyon president: Lacazette future murky after Atleti decision

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulas says Alexandre Lacazette could stay at Lyon for another season after a planned move to Atletico Madrid fell flat.

Lacazette was ready to move to Atleti if the club’s transfer ban was reduced, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport refused to alter its punishment.

[ MORE: UCL Final Preview ]

Now Aulas says anything could happen, from a longer stay in France to a move to a different club. And with Atleti’s ban ending in January 2018, there’s a chance for a midseason move (“A solution might be that he stays with us until the sanction is over,” Aulas said).

From AS.com:

Speaking to L’Equipe, Aulas sais that “Real Madrid have their sanction reduced, but that wasn’t the case for Atletico. It is both good and bad news because economically it was a very important transfer and the TAs sanction changes everything. Lacazette did not want to celebrate the move too early because he knows that anything can happen in football but he made the decision on his future with his heart. This setback challenges the agreement but he could continue playing here for one more season.”

Arsenal have often been linked with Lacazette, and Manchester United could see him as a replacement and/or partner for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The plot has certainly thickened at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.