Toulouse snapped up out-of-favour Etienne Didot

Toulouse have snapped up out-of-favour midfielder Rennes Etienne Didot for their first signing of the summer.

Didot, 24, signed a four-year deal at City for a reported three million euros.

He came through the ranks of Rennes and was captain of the club early last season, but they are not included in the plans of new coach Guy Lacombe, who arrived in December.

"I like to feel involved and the offer was presented to me fitted that," said Didot.

"I remain committed to my region, Brittany, but I wanted a fresh start."

Didot's brother Sylvain played for Toulouse for two seasons and scored the goal that promotes the Ligue 1 in 2003.

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Puel new manager for Lyon

LYON, June 18 - New Lyon coach Claude Puel, he insists not exercise the axe in order to attract a Lyon side capable of winning the Champions League.

Puel finally took his new role with the champions of France on Wednesday after being informed by Les Gones president Jean-Michel Aulas, it would have more to say than its predecessors on the club that signs and sells.

Several new faces have arrived at the Stade Gerland already this summer, with several side older players said to be on their way.

But Puel insists there will always be a place in his side for players who have a desire to win, even if their abilities are fading with age.

`` What is important is (the players) have the technical capability but also an unbreakable spirit,''he told a press conference at his official unveiling.

`` The group needs a spirit. It is vital that the players have a spirit Lyon through and through, they have a desire to continue playing here.''

A player who has already expressed his desire to leave the front is young Hatem Ben Arfa, who has been linked with a move to Marseille.

But Puel insists the player is not out of the door just yet, before adding: `` We will take stock with each of them (the players) and includes Ben Arfa.''

Whether the new coach made changes widespread or not, he reiterated Aulas' position that winning the Champions League has been a target, but not at the expense of eighth right Ligue 1 title.

He said: `` We played the competition two years in a row with Lille. Experience has shown us that you can not be half your level of the league to be level with the best parts of the Champions League.

`` But we will play the Champions League to go through.''

Puel also revealed that he was pleased to finally be in Lyon after weeks of speculation in the press, saying he was happy to have left his former club Lille in good shape.

`` It's very flattering to be followed by managers Lyon. Now I must repay their confidence,''he said.

`` After six years in Lille, I come to a turning point in my life. I wanted to take a new project.

Lille: `` The project had been carried forward: the club is healthy, the team is developing a new stadium will be built.

`` I need a new tournament to regenerate me and meet other goals. In other words, I needed something new to think about.''

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Alain Perrin leave as coach of Lyon

LYON, June 16 - Alain Perrin is to leave as coach of seven-times champions Lyon, the Ligue 1 club's president Jean-Michel Aulas said on Monday.

"Perrin is leaving," said Aulas at the inauguration of Cameroon midfielder Jean Makoun, signed from Lille.

"We found an agreement that will allow it to leave in good conditions and we were looking for."

According to local media reports, Perrin, who guided Lyon to their first National League and Cup double last season, will be replaced by Lille coach Claude Puel, but Aulas has refused to comment.

"No decision has been taken," he said.

The champions of France said earlier this month they need a manager to help them make an impact in Europe where they have never been further than the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

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Marius Tresor believes signing Mikael Silvestre will be difficult

BORDEAUX, June 13 (Ligue 1) - Bordeaux assistant coach Marius Treasury believes signing Manchester United's Mikael Silvestre will be difficult as the Roma are also interested in the defender.

Silvestre is one of three objectives Girondins president Jean-Louis Triaud identified for his club this summer who want to improve the second place they achieved during the last season Ligue 1 campaign.

Triaud has already admitted that the capture Silvestre would be complicated because the amount of money he earns now in England.

Now Tresor claims United player himself has revealed Roma are interested, and the former France International believes it is difficult to see competition outside of Italy.

"As regards Mikael Silvestre, I am very worried, it will be complicated," said Tresor French radio station RTL L'Equipe. "I met him not long ago in the Caribbean. He said he was also followed by Roma.

And when these two teams, it will not take a loan at Bordeaux on a final contract in Rome. "

Bordeaux have already completed the loan transfer Yoann Gourcuff of AC Milan, and are currently in negotiations with Caen on their third goal Yoan Gouffran.

Silvestre featured only six times for United last season in three appearances in the Premier League.

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Karim Benzema remain at the Lyon

BARCELONA, June 13 (Ligue 1) - Lyon striker Karim Benzema has remained the champions of France after the World Cup in 2010, according to club president Jean-Michel Aulas.

The 20-year leader is regarded as one of the best young players in Europe after scoring 21 league goals for Lyon spearheaded the seventh consecutive Ligue 1 title last season.

Aulas is now Barcelona for the European Club Association (ECA) conference in Camp Nou, and with the catalan would be between giants Benzema admirers, it took time to dispel speculation a deal could be made to sell his star striker.

"In euros, or 40million euros 50mil we sell Benzema's ear, 'Aulas joked to reporters.

"It is not a question of money. The player wants to achieve something important in the Champions League with Lyon.

"It is fortunate the club and it can be seen with his last contract renewal. I am sure he will stay with Lyon until the 2010 World Cup finals. "

Benzema is underway with France at Euro 2008 where the attacker is set from Friday evening is crucial encounter with the Netherlands.

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Middlesbrough push home their interest in Didier Digard

Middlesbrough are now working hard to make a home of their interest in the french midfielder Didier Digard.

There was no public comment on the club's pursuit of their 21 years, the Paris St Germain player.

However, £ 4million-rated Digard has been on Teesside for a medical and to begin talks and Boro are optimistic significant progress could be made within the next few days.

They have their approach, knowing that several other clubs are also monitoring the former Le Havre player of the situation, with Newcastle and Portsmouth have also been linked with him.

But Boro hope of beginning their approach gave them an edge as manager Gareth Southgate attempts to strengthen his midfield options.

Southgate's main priority this summer is to add to strengthen in that department after Fabio Rochemback and Gaizka Mendieta to leave the Riverside Stadium.

In addition, his is awaiting a decision by former teammate George Boateng on his future.

The 32-year-old Dutchman has another year of his contract to run, but was disappointed to find itself not an automatic choice last season.

He openly admitted that May to consider leaving the club, although Southgate said midfielder has a role to play in his plans.

The manager said: "It is part of our team here and a very strong party.

"I can not guarantee any player a first team place. We try to create a club where people are pushing for places.

It May have seen it had fallen to the hierarchy and found that difficult, but I think he realizes what I'm doing with the team and the number of games he played speaks volumes ".

Southgate is too hope to retain the services of Gary O'Neil, who initially struggled to settle after his £ 5million move from Portsmouth last summer, sparking rumors he wants to leave.

The former England defender said: "He told me he feels more settled and at this point, I must go hand in hand with that and hope that the situation resolves itself during the summer.

"Gary is a contract to us and he is someone that we do not want to lose."

Indeed, Southgate is now concentrating on recruiting compensation after the bridge of his summer spending plans.

It May have been unwilling to lose goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer - 35 years, has joined Fulham after his contract expired Boro - but is convinced that, in Ross Turnbull and Brad Jones, it has adequate coverage.

In addition to Australia, Rochemback and Mendieta, he also saw Lee Dong-Good Kennedy and Jason head out of the exit door, and has not immediate plans to reduce the number of new ones.

Southgate said the club's official website: "There were a couple of actors who have been frustrated by a lack of first team opportunities last year, but I think they will all want to return to pre - season and see what is the situation.

"It is obvious that if we bring players that will have an impact on their opportunities, but we must try to move the team and continue to grow. Some of the young players to come back stronger from the break.

"The only interest we have had is to take a couple of players on loan, but I am not prepared to take these decisions because everything still one of my players could be the first team.

"If the players stay or go is ultimately our decision, and we have to do good for the club."

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Claude Puel become manager of Olympique Lyon

PARIS, June 12 - Claude Puel has accepted an offer to become manager of France champions Olympique Lyon, France Football magazine reported Thursday.

Puel said Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has agreed to leave the Ligue 1 rivals Lille and sign a four-year contract with Lyon, the magazine said on its website.

Puel is expected to replace Alain Perrin, who guided Lyon to their first National League and Cup double last season.

Seven times champions Lyon suggested earlier this month that Perrin days were numbered charge by saying a new structure is necessary and a manager with a broader mission and a long-term contract would be appointed.

Puel priority will be to help Lyon an impact in Europe at last.

The dominant force in France for years, Lyon has never advanced past the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

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Vanderlei Luxemburgo said he is unlikely to quit the Real Madrid

Palmeiras coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo has announced that it is unlikely to leave Brazil giants to french Lyon.

The reign of seven times Ligue 1 champions have been openly looking for someone to succeed current coach Alain Perrin, with the Brazilian media linking Luxembourg with a move to France.

But the former Brazil and Real Madrid coach insists he wants to stay at Palmeiras.

"I think it would be very difficult for me to leave Palmeiras. My contract runs until the end of next year, with several clauses, and I am happy here, "said Luxemburgo.

"I am happy with the money invested on the team, projects to build a stadium and renew the academy football, my salary is excellent and I am identified with the club and supporters.

"I like everything. My feelings tell me, I will not stop. "

Luxemburgo said club supporters and administrators should not punish him for listening to offers.

"I'm not going to come here and say that I will not leave Palmeiras only because fans and advisers are not satisfied," he said.

"You can be sure that I am 100% responsible in my work at the club because I always do the same at any club."

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Gareth Southgate hoping make an early breakthrough

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate was today hoping to make an early breakthrough in the transfer market in the summer after midfielder Didier Digard french arrived on Teesside.

The 21-year-old Paris St Germain player, which is valued at around £ 4million, was understood to be subject to a medical this afternoon before the opening of talks with the Premier League club.

Southgate had already confirmed its interest in a player who, near the top of its list of targets midfielder.

He said: "Didier is someone that we were watching and he is someone that we have done an investigation. He is a player who has defined the qualities and he is someone we are interested, but at this stage of the summer, it is difficult to go further.

But a major difference between Didier and many other players is that the signs seem to indicate that his club are willing to sell him.

"This puts him in a position slightly different from some other players that we could have been the research."

Southgate has not hidden the fact that his priority this summer is a midfielder.

Fabio Rochemback and Gaizka Mendieta have already left the club, and although 18 years, Nathan Porritt yesterday signed his first professional contract, George Boateng the situation remains uncertain, while rumours persist that Gary O'Neil could also leave after only one season.

Boro have been linked to a series of goals with Chelsea's Steve Sidwell high Southgate on the wish list and Newcastle James Milner, reading James Harper Michael Bradley and Heerenveen also included.

However, the Teessiders do not want to be dragged into a bidding war on Sidwell, although they have received little encouragement in their search for Milner, who is also attracting interest from Liverpool.

Speculation has also suggested Portsmouth's Sean Davis is in Southgate curiosities, but it is understood that it is not.

The former England defender has spent much of last summer reshuffle his frontline after losing both Mark Viduka and Yakubu Ayegbeni.

Having seen the head Yakubu Everton for two weeks after the start of the new campaign with little time to replace the Boro boss is determined to do its business in early summer if possible.

He said: "As a manager, the ideal scenario is that you've got the players to begin pre-season.

"When we return on July 7 to begin training, we would like all players that we could sit them down and explain exactly how we will work this year.

"This would give everyone the longer possible to work together during pre-season. If we could do it, it would be a big plus."

However, as he prepares to dive into the summer market for the third time in his young career management, Southgate is realistic about his chances to make an early impact underway with the finals of Euro 2008, which complicates matters further.

Southgate said: "If you look across the league, it was only a couple of high-profile signatures. With championships underway in Europe and with it still being early summer, it takes time for deals to occur.

"We are very active and we are trying to get in a situation where we have put in bids with other clubs.

"We know exactly the positions that we want to try to strengthen and types of players we want to bring in.

"But these things take a little time."

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Khalid Boulahrouz targeted by Marseille

Chelsea defender Khalid Boulahrouz is a target for Marseille, the club of french coach Eric Gerets has revealed.

The 26 years has attracted attention in Holland opening match of Euro 2008, an 3-0 victory over Italy World Champion, after missing the 23-man squad but receiving a call - the result of an injury in Liverpool's Ryan Babel.

Boulahrouz spent last season on loan to Seville, where it is believed he attracted the attention of a number of other English clubs.

But Marseille have now become serious for his signature after Gerets admitted today that it has asked the club for the french hotel to buy the Dutch.

"I submitted a list of reinforcements that I want the council and he (Boulahrouz) is on him," said Gerets Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"He is a player who interests us. It is now up to them (the council) to make contact with Chelsea. I do not know if this will happen. It could be done."

He added: "I do not know how much cost Boulahrouz. This is not my field. But I would really like to have it. "

Boulahrouz joined Chelsea in August 2006, playing 23 times for the Londoners before his loan move to Spain.

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Real Madrid interested in Stephan Lichtsteiner

LILLE, June 5 (Ligue 1) - Real Madrid are interested in signing Lille defender Stephan Lichtsteiner, according to reports in France.

The 24 years, currently preparing for Euro 2008 with co-hosts Switzerland, refused to sign an extension to his deal with the french club, which should expire in 2009.

He said french newspaper L'Equipe on Thursday he was "honored" to generate interest from Spanish champions, but insisted on ideas of a movement were out of bounds after the Championship of Europe.

"I am proud and honoured that a club like Real is interested in me," he said.

"But my priority is the championship of Europe. I'll leave my brother (also his agent) to cope with all this."

Lichtsteiner played a key role in Lille this season as they finished seventh in Ligue 1.

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Nicolas de Tavernost warn Laurent Blanc

BORDEAUX, June 5 (Ligue 1) - Bordeaux owner Nicolas de Tavernost said Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, it will be "a waste of time" if it tries to attract Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc at the Stade Gerland next season.

Aulas announced Monday that the Ligue 1 and Cup champions France could be to start a "new project" next season with the Champions League as their main priority, but does not mention whether the coach Alain Perrin is one Les Gones driving in it.

Last week, the Lyon president told the French press, it will soon take a decision on the future of Perrin, and revealed that Blanc is one of three coaches, it was looking like a replacement.

But De Tavernost, owner of the company which owns M6 Bordeaux, insists Blanc leads nowhere.

"Laurent Blanc will be in Bordeaux next season. He is a man of his word," he said french newspaper L'Equipe.

"Jean-Michel Aulas has enough about him to know he is losing his time trying to find a solution like this. He knows well. "

White, who was appointed coach of Ligue 1 this year in his first season in charge, was quoted as saying: "You do not say no to Lyon in response to a question about the double-winners' interest in him.

However, De Tavernost insists he has no reason to worry about such comments.

"It is in the habit of respecting its commitments, and we are in the habit of respect ours, which is not a problem," he said.

"If there is a shake up in Lyon that the problem of Lyon, not Bordeaux."

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Yoann Gourcuff joins Bordeaux

BORDEAUX, June 3 (Ligue 1) - Bordeaux are on the verge of completing the signing of AC Milan player Yoann Gourcuff one-year loan deal.

The France Under-21 international has found himself surplus to requirements at the Rossoneri and presented in only 15 games last season.

The 21-year anxiously awaits the return to his country of origin which could be made permanent Bordeaux should decide to exercise an option in the agreement.

Gourcuff said french newspaper L'Equipe: "It is ideal for me. The coming season is very important for my career.

"Bordeaux is a club and stable. This is a year's loan deal with an option to purchase".

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Samir Nasri can make impact at Arsenal

Arsène Wenger believes Samir Nasri may have an impact "at the highest level", but seems to have to wait a little longer before completing the capture of french Thursday in Marseilles.

Nasri, who turns 21 later this month, is currently preparing for Euro 2008 with France, and negotiations on a move to the Emirates Stadium have taken longer than expected.

It was understood midfielder, who can play at centre or on the wing, was due in England for a doctor at the weekend and put the finishing touches to a £ 12million, four-year deal.

However, Gunners boss Wenger said the formal completion of the transfer May now not happen until the jewel tournament in Austria and Switzerland, where France faces World Cup winners Italy, Netherlands and Romania in the so-called "Group of Death".

Wenger, however, is undoubtedly taking Nasri is another sound investment for the future.

"In 21 years while its future ahead of him and he (very) a margin to advance further," said Wenger french newspaper La Provence.

He, in any event, the qualities necessary to assert himself at the highest level ".

Wenger made it clear he continues to have great faith in its team of young, but admitting that they would benefit from adding an experience of "super-talent."

However, after seeing Mathieu Flamini left Emirates Stadium to join AC Milan on a free transfer, the Arsenal boss is determined not to lose any more men coming of pre-season training.

Reports, though, after Alexander Hleb link with a move to Barcelona, despite the Belarus international play suggestions he was ready to leave the Gunners.

Lyon winger Hatem Ben Arfa is another said to be on summer Wenger shopping list, and midfielder Piotr Trochowski of Hamburg, Zenit St. Petersburg Andrei Arshavin and Valencia forward David Villa.

Arsenal have not failed promises in Wales as young Aaron Ramsey Cardiff acknowledged allowing two Premier League clubs, including Manchester United, discuss with the player. However, remain favourites to sign him.

Sevilla's new £ 5million signing Lautaro Acosta says he rejected the possibility of joining the Gunners from the Argentine club Atletico Lanus.

Nevertheless, confidence is high Gunners provide another challenge for sustainable national and European honours next season after having swept the top of the Barclays Premier League only to fade in recent weeks.

Deputy Director Pat Rice, no doubt, the players will return stronger for their experiences.

"If you go back to the period of closure, the so-called experts were out of us, that we would be happy if we finish in the top eight. This will show you how good the east side, "Rice told the club's official website.

"I think the experience and disappointments we endured throughout last season, will make sure we come back even stronger and more committed."

Rice - whose playing career at Arsenal spans three decades and 528 appearances - maintains speculation he was set to leave the club were "a lie".

"As far as I'm concerned, my role this summer is no different from the way it has been since Arsene came here in 1996," said 59-year old defender Northern Ireland, which won the double with Arsenal in 1971.

"Until he tells me something different, I'll still be in my normal role as his assistant and we are eager to pre-season as usual."

Meanwhile, Fulham have announced managing director David McNally is leaving the club, and cease "all its functions and responsibilities with immediate effect".

McNally - who helped Harrods supremo Mohamed Fayed take over the club in west London in 1997, as well as play an influential role in services manager Roy Hodgson who led a remarkable escape from relegation season last - has been linked with the CEO role at Arsenal, which became vacant following the shock departure of Keith Edelman during May.

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Bafetimbi Gomis extended his contract

France striker Bafetimbi Gomis has extended his contract at St Etienne on June 2012.

The 22-year-old scored 16 goals that ASSE qualified for the UEFA Cup during last season and was delighted to extend his time at the club. He said: "I am very happy to stay at St Etienne and extend my adventure with my club trainer.

"I hope to be able to claim a place in the Champions League with the Greens.

"My priority has always been to stay at St Etienne and it was important for me to sort out my personal position before the start of Euro 2008."

Coach Laurent Roussey added: "We are all very happy. Bafe is an important part of our team.

"The fact that it remains with us and that the leaders of what was needed, shows that Saint-Etienne have the ambition."

Gomis was a surprise inclusion in Raymond Domenech France's provisional team for Euro 2008 and earned his place in the final 23 with two goals on debut against Ecuador.

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Lyon suggested that Alain Perrin's days were numbered

LYON, France, June 2 - Ligue 1 champions Olympique Lyon strongly suggested on Monday that coach Alain Perrin days in charge were numbered.

"A new direction is needed with a designation of a manager with a broader mission and a long-term contract," the club said in a statement.

"The manager priority will be to help improve the club in the Champions League," added the statement.

Club President Jean-Michel Aulas has met Perrin to inform the club of the new policy, Lyon.

Lyon won a record seventh successive title this season and also lifted the Cup for France to seal their first double procedure.

They again failed, however, have an impact in Europe, falling to eventual winners Manchester United in the Champions League first knockout round.

Perrin, 51, formerly with Olympique Marseille, Sochaux and Portsmouth in England, was in Lyon for a little over a year.

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