Olympique Lyonnais

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NWSL’s Reign to be sold to Olympique Lyonnais owners

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The parent company of French soccer club Olympique Lyonnais is in exclusive talks to purchase Reign FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.

The OL Groupe and the Reign announced the deal Monday and the transaction is expected to be completed on Jan. 31.

Olympique Lyonnais, more commonly known as Lyon, plays in Ligue 1 on the men’s side and Division 1 Feminine on the women’s side. Lyon has won six women’s Champions League titles.

Current Reign owners Bill and Teresa Predmore will retain a minority stake in Reign FC. Bill Predmore will serve as CEO of the team.

“Our ambition has always been to operate the best women’s football club in the world,” Bill Predmore said in a statement. “This is a distinction long held by OL, making them the perfect organization to help us achieve our long-term objectives for the club.”

Reign FC made the NWSL playoffs for the second straight season this year and coach Vlatko Andonovski was named the league’s Coach of the Year. Andonovski stepped down at the end of the season to become head coach of the U.S. women’s national team.

Lyon will also assume control of Reign Academy as part of the deal.

The Hanauer Family and Tacoma Soccer Ventures, investors in the Reign when the team moved to Tacoma last season, will no longer have an ownership stake. But the Reign will continue to play at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.

Lyon hires Rudi Garcia as new manager

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Olympique Lyonnais has announced they have hired Rudi Garcia as manager, replacing the fired Sylvinho.

Lyon has struggled mightily to start the Ligue 1 season, winning just two of its first nine league games and sitting 14th in the table with nine points. Sylvinho, who was only hired at the end of May, was let go last week.

Garcia has formerly taken charge of Roma, Lille, and St. Etienne, and most recently managed Lyon rivals Marseille for three seasons before departing this summer. He left with Marseille having failed to claim a Champions League place amid the Ligue 1 top three.

“I chose Rudi Garcia because he is a fighter who, like us, has the ambition to win titles and succeed on the European stage,” said Lyon sporting director Juninho. The Brazilian had chosen his countrymate Sylvinho this summer, but made a change just nine matches into the season with the club winning its first two matches of the season and failing to win since. They have lost three of the last four, with all three defeats coming via a 1-0 scoreline. They have scored just five goals in the seven-match winless run, shutout on four different occasions.

The 55-year-old Frenchman will have plenty of proving to do to Lyon fans. Coming straight over from a direct rival, . Fans were outspoken about their cautious feelings, as the introductory tweet was ratio’d by those expressing a distaste for the hire.

“He is an experienced coach who has already won trophies,” added Juninho.“Wherever he has been, he has had above-average performances and has always managed to make the most of what he had at his disposal.”

Garcia’s first match in charge will be a home league match this weekend against Dijon, followed by a Europa League visit to Benfica.

Lyon’s Nabil Fekir completes bargain transfer to Real Betis

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One year ago, Lyon forward Nabil Fekir was reportedly on the brink of a move to Liverpool from somewhere in the vicinity of $65 million. Now, he’s gone for around a third of that price.

Fekir has reportedly completed a transfer to Spanish side Real Betis for a reported $22 million plus add-ons, proving just how far a contract dispute and bad knee can torpedo a player’s value on the open market.

The 26-year-old came incredibly close to a switch to Anfield last summer worth somewhere in the vicinity of $65, with his now ex-agent stating that Fekir had even completed photos in a Liverpool jersey and passed a medical. Yet he never completed the transfer, as the Reds pulled out of the deal at the last minute for unknown reasons, thought to be potentially related to lingering effects from an ACL tear suffered early in the 2015/16 season.

Now, with one year left on his Lyon contract and a refusal to sign a new deal, the French club had no choice but to find a suitor, leaving Real Betis in a solid negotiating position and Lyon in no position to haggle.

The reports state Fekir’s cut-rate deal does come with a bit of a bright side for Lyon, as the add-ons are reportedly significant – up to $12 million worth – and the Ligue 1 side maintains a sell-on clause of around 20% should Fekir be moved by Betis. Still, the loss in value is significant from one summer to the next.

A dip in form could also be a contributing factor in the drop in value. While it’s not like the French international put up bad numbers last season – nine goals and seven assists to his name in 29 Ligue 1 appearances – it represented a serious step back from the 18 goals he racked up two seasons ago before piquing Liverpool’s interest.

For Betis, Fekir’s arrival represents an important replacement for Giovani Lo Celso who is rumored to be on his way out, with interest from Tottenham.

Hegerberg hat-trick leads Lyon to women’s Champions League title

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Lyon won its fourth straight women’s Champions League title behind a hat-trick from defending Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg as they topped Barcelona 4-1 in Budapest.

The game got out of hand early, as Lyon bagged all four of its scores in the opening half-hour, cruising from that point on. German international Dzsenifer Marozsan opened the scoring just five minutes in, and Hegerberg took over from there, striking twice in the opening 20 minutes before a 30th minute goal sealed the deal.

Marozsan’s goal was an emotional one, a crowd favorite being from the city originally. The opener was assisted on a cross from Shanice van de Sanden, who picked up the first two assists in a brilliant supporting role from the start.

The matchup was billed as a face-off between Hegerberg and Barcelona forward Lieke Martens – winner of the 2017 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award before the Ballon d’Or was introduced – but it was no contest as Martens missed a 68th minute effort, forced to wait until the 89th minute to provide her contribution, an assist on the consolation goal by Asisat Oshoala. England striker Toni Duggan also featured in the match for Barcelona, but she missed a chance in the opening minutes for Barcelona before Lyon took control, and Duggan was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go.

Barcelona’s project is still a model for others around Europe, having only introduced its women’s side in 2015 and building a solid base, but the gulf in talent was exposed in Budapest Saturday in their first European final. Lyon, meanwhile, hasn’t lost a competitive match in nearly a year, falling to Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in last year’s Coupe de France Feminine final.

Lyon strengthens Champions League place with win over Angers

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Olympique Lyonnais is one step closer to a spot in next year’s Champions League after topping Angers 2-1 on Friday thanks to first-half goals by Memphis Depay and Martin Terrier.

Depay opened the scoring just 14 minutes in with his seventh goal of the Ligue 1 season, breaking away thanks to an incredible long-ball up the field from 20-year-old French youth international Houssem Aouar. Depayevaded a last-ditch tackle by Mateo Pavlovic and scored one-on-one with Angers goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle. It marked the Dutchman’s first goal since a 5-1 win over Toulouse in early March, and just his second league tally since mid-November.

With six minutes to go until halftime, Lyon struck again as Aouar provided yet another wonderful assist, threading a ball down the middle from the halfway line that a streaking Terrier connected with after splitting the defensive unit. That left the 22-year-old alone with Butelle and he also finished the breakaway chance.

The two assists for Aouar mark his first multi-assist match of the season and sees his assist total move to five on the league campaign to go along with his seven goals. The youngster has cooled off since his blistering start to the year where he scored five goals in an eight-match span through October and November. Still, he has been a vital part of the Lyon squad this season, having racked up 2,541 Ligue 1 minutes out of a possible 2,970.

The win strengthens Lyon’s position in third place in the Ligue 1 table, moving them to 59 points, six ahead of fourth-placed St. Etienne and eight above fifth-placed Marseille. It would be the club’s second season in a row in the Champions League, having reached the Round of 16 this time around before elimination at the hands of Barcelona.