Once France’s top club, Lyon are in full-blown crisis on and off the pitch coming into this weekend’s clash with reigning Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Title-winners seven years in a row from 2002 to 2008, OL have finished outside the European qualifying spots in both the last two seasons and their start to this campaign has been their worst in 31 years.
After losing their opening two matches, Laurent Blanc’s side played out an insipid goalless draw in Nice last weekend without suspended star striker Alexandre Lacazette.
Scorer of 27 league goals last season, Lacazette will again be banned against PSG, but that is almost the least of Lyon’s problems.
American businessman John Textor bought the club midway through last season from long-serving president Jean-Michel Aulas, via his company Eagle Football.
But French football’s financial watchdog, the DNCG, imposed restrictions on Lyon’s spending over the summer, hampering the club’s ability to sign much-needed players.
Things took a further turn this week when Aulas filed a complaint against Textor for slander.
Speaking in a video conference with several French media on Tuesday, Textor accused Aulas of “hiding” the reality of the club’s financial situation at the time of the takeover.
Aulas denied those allegations through his company Holnest, which asked a commercial court in Lyon to block 14.5 million euros ($15.7m) it claims it is owed from the club’s accounts.
Holnest retains a minority share of under 10 percent in the club, which Aulas says Textor’s company had agreed to acquire.
“Aulas has managed to have our accounts frozen for a week in the middle of the transfer window,” Lyon’s executive president Santiago Cucci complained to AFP.
“He has placed the whole club at risk in order to defend his own interests.”
“It is sad but I am not doing this against the club, but rather against the person, John Textor with Eagle, who bought the club,” Aulas told AFP.
The off-field theatre left Lyon with little room for manoeuvre in the transfer market ahead of the summer window closing late on Friday.
Lyon have managed to sign promising Ghanaian forward Ernest Nuamah from Danish side Nordsjaelland, but only because Belgian side Molenbeek — another of Textor’s clubs — bought the 19-year-old and then loaned him to France.
Meanwhile, Lyon’s promising France Under-21 international forward Bradley Barcola was set to complete a move to PSG before the window closed in a deal worth a reported 50 million euros including bonuses.
That would give Luis Enrique’s PSG extra ammunition in attack as they look to build on their 3-1 win over Lens last weekend, when Kylian Mbappe scored twice on his first start this season.
Player to watch: Folarin Balogun
The 22-year-old USA striker has returned to Ligue 1 after joining Monaco this week from Arsenal for a fee that could eventually rise to 40 million euros according to reports.
Balogun opted to come back to France, where he starred last season on loan at Reims, after realising that he was unlikely to feature regularly under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.
Monaco will hope he can fire them back into the Champions League after the principality club missed out on European football altogether this season. He could make his debut on Saturday against Lens.
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