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Lille’s new owner Gérard Lopez’s interview with RMC in full

Gérard Lopez wants to be challenging for the title “within two years”

In an interview with RMC Sport, Gérard Lopez, the new owner of LOSC, is open about his ambitions for the northern club. And they are some ambitions.

Could LOSC really be a title contender? While this may raise a smile to some, seeing that the northern club are currently languishing in 13th place after gameweek 20, it is Gérard Lopez’s dream – even ambition – to realise this.

Talking exclusively for RMC Sport, the businessman from Luxembourg revealed his plan for his new club. “This season is a transition year but next season we would like to get among the top six,” says the successor to Michel Seydoux. “We would to like to make sure that our new recruits can get us there.”

“Not having ambition in Ligue 1 would be a lack of respect for the club.”

But Lille does not want to settle for being also-rans, at a distance from the podium. In the medium term, les Dogues will be looking to mix it with the big boys in the championship.

“Once we are there, it’s about the top 4; then on to Europe,” says Lopez. “From that point on, anything is possible. I want LOSC to be one of those teams going for the title within two years, or at least, in the top 3. Taking over at LOSC and not having ambition in Ligue 1 would be a lack of respect for the club.” 

Gérard Lopez: “Regarding Bielsa, we agree on a lot of things”

For the first time since his arrival at LOSC, Gérard Lopez talks in depth about Marcelo Bielsa possibly being lined up as the first team coach.

Will he come or will he not? The Marcelo Bielsa saga in Lille is still not over. Yet on Monday, in an exclusive with RMC Sport, Gérard Lopez, new owner of the northern club,  was cautiously optimistic about the arrival of Marseille’s former coach. “It’s a real possibility because we’ve got a lot of time for each other,” admitted the businessman from Luxembourg

“Marcelo is very interested in what we have planned.”

But what stage are the negotiations really at? “We are not negotiating with Marcelo,” chuckles Gérard Lopez. “We’ve gone past that stage. There are other managers who we are in contact with. There is also the current manager (Patrick Collot) who we want to support because he is doing a good job.” But what about Bielsa, then? “We agree on a lot of things,” says the new chief. “There are still some discussions with Marcelo which are more like chats. It would be premature to say that he is coming to Lille. What’s not in doubt is that he is very interested in what we have got planned and that we are equally very interested to get him here.”

“If a deal is done, it won’t be a one year contract.”

As announced by RMC, the Argentine can expect a three year contract. “I am optimistic about the deal. If it is done, it won’t be a one year contract. I get on well with him. He’s a perfectionist. In terms of what still needs to be done, it’s won’t be what people think it is. There are other things with him which are also important.” Gérard Lopez has not put a deadline on securing his services because Patrick Collot is the (current) coach who is, according to him, “doing well” and as a result, “there is no hurry,” he explains.

Collot until the end of the season, in partnership with Bielsa? “It’s possible.”

Questioned by Rolland Courbis on Team Duga (a RMC talk sport show) on Monday, Gérard Lopez provided other talking points regarding discussions with Marcelo Bielsa. One notable point was in regard to Patrick Collot, who could end up finishing the season in collaboration with the Argentine.

“It’s possible. It’s not that far removed from what may actually happen. There was an agreement a while ago, on the basis of a joint setup,” added Gérard Lopez. “Certain things have to be put in place, some of which are personal elements which are confidential. If it was just about a contract or a length of contract, or a salary…there would be nothing to worry about.  I’ll say to you that it’s 50-50 at the moment. The reason why: it’s confidential. If this thing is resolved, it’ll be more like 100%; if not, it’ll be 0%.”

Gérard Lopez: “Bielsa and Luis Campos are working hard together.”

Gérard Lopez, the new owner of LOSC, admits that his Sporting Director Luis Campos and potential future manager Marcelo Bielsa have already been talking a lot and scoping out players who may fit the bill at the club.

Will Marcelo Bielsa be the next manager at LOSC? It’s what the the northern club’s buyer, Gérard Lopez, would like. And he revealed to RMC on Monday that the Argentine has already got a close relationship with Luis Campos, his Sporting Director. Nicknamed “El Loco” (literally the “madman” in Spanish) and former director at AS Monaco, can they really work together? “We’ve got more than just guarantees,” replies Gérard Lopez.

“Today, Luis is working with several people on transfers,” explains the new owner. “These include Patrick Collot, LOSC staff and, perhaps a surprise, Marcelo Bielsa. There is no discussing of players without getting advice. Marcelo is such a good friend that I can easily get in touch with him. And Luis gets in contact with him directly regarding loads of things. They chat with each other pretty much on a daily basis.”

“An unprecedented luxury” to be able to count on Bielsa.

And this new-look LOSC will be able to rely on the former manager of Marseille. “Marcelo, on a level well outside of the discussions about the job as the manager, is a friend of the plan we’ve got going on,” continues Gérard Lopez. “His talks are very fruitful with Luis. They are working hard together. They get on so well, they really get each other. They literally see eye to eye and have had trips together.”

“Marcelo is an incredible asset,” continues the new chief of LOSC. “There are an incalculable number of managers who consider him simply a maestro in the world of football. Marcelo’s advice is clear and often perfectly measured. To have a relationship of friendship with Marcelo, being able to pick up the phone and say to him, ‘hey, this is such and such, what do you think about it?’ and then have a detailed response, it’s an unprecedented luxury.” 

Gérard Lopez: “We’re looking good to get in El Ghazi and J.Alonso.”

Gérard Lopez, the new owner of LOSC, confirms that a couple of reinforcements could be soon arriving: the Dutch attacker Anwar El Ghazi and Paraguayan defender Junior Alonso.

It’s been all change in the last month at LOSC: a new owner, Gérard Lopez; a few new directors, Luis Campos and Marc Ingla; and soon, some new players, as well as the possible arrival of Marcelo Bielsa as the coach. The two initial reinforcements should be the Dutch attacker Anwar El Ghazi (Ajax) and Paraguayan defender Junior Alonso (Cerro Porteno) in line with what RMC Sport revealed last weekend. “I thought I saw their names somewhere…I know them. It’s looking good,” Gérard Lopez confirmed to us on Monday. Two players, 21 and 23 respectively, will be part of the northern club’s plans to revitalise things.

“We have got a bit of a different approach, focussing on player profiles that seem realistic,” explains the new chief in Lille. “We asked ourselves what positions need reinforcing. From then on, we drew up an exhaustive list of players. We tried to target those who fit with our plans going forward. These are players between 20 and 24. You’ve got to have players which fit in with the plan. Taking players in on loan who are going to give a helping hand this year and maybe the next does not go with the sort of thinking that we have got going on. We need players who will be pretty much at the top within two years.”

Gérard Lopez: “We have lines of enquiry; we have things yet to announce.”

Anwar El Ghazi and Junior Alonso will certainly not be the only recruits arriving at LOSC this January. “We are looking for three, maybe four reinforcements,” adds Gérard Lopez. “We’ve not set a maximum spend even if we know more or less where we want to go. The winter transfer window is tricky. Every team is either trying to steal a march in front or not drop away. It makes transactions difficult. I look at the quality of staff around me since the players they have got in tick the boxes. Players that we’ve had to go and look for, that we’ve had to find. And those who match with what we want; so I am really happy.”

P.K.

 

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