Gérard Lopez gave an exclusive interview last Friday in front of the cameras, after being announced as the new owner of Lille football club. Sitting alongside former president Michel Seydoux, Lopez did not shy away from his future vision with Lille LOSC. Extracts.
First of all, I would like to thank Michel Seydoux. Through our exchanges and our joint effort, we have become good friends. The foundations of Lille football club are strong; it’s a well-handled club in the image of its president and in a region which lives and breathes football.
On Patrick Collot as the current Head Coach
Patrick Collot is working hard and he has brought the team back up from 19th to 12th position. We’re in no rush to bring in a new manager. Yes, our project will assign a new boss. Yes, there are ideas being discussed. But this can wait until the end of the season. Patrick isn’t excluded from the picture and he knows this. He is the boss in the changing room and we fully support him.
The profile of the future Coach
We’re looking for a certain style of play. We really want to bring in a coach who has the same vision with our project. Someone who can entertain, and bring different emotions to each and every game. We are working alongside Luis Campos and Admar Lopes to continue to integrate young players. These are the main characteristics that will help in our decision to bring in the right coach.
On the potential arrival of Marcelo Bielsa
Bielsa is a good friend of mine, I’ve known him since he’s been coaching Athletic Bilbao. I’m a fan of his playing philosophy and his capability of pushing through the youth. He’s also keen to make the game a great entertaining experience. We are in discussion, but at the moment, there is nothing concrete or signed. We are also speaking to other managers which he is aware of. In terms of his personality, he’s very precise in what he wants which could create sparks along the way. But in a professional scenario, I think we can make it work. I’ll make it clear that it will only be for a two and half or three-year contract, nothing more.
Clarification over being linked to other top European clubs
Like everyone else, I’ve read what was said in the papers. I didn’t speak to anyone in England, however, I did hold discussions in Portugal. There was an offer in place, but the representatives didn’t come back to us in time. I would like to stress that this isn’t important at all, because the project lies with Lille OSC. At the moment, there is a possibility of linking with a club in another league, and sending our young players out in order to give them playing time. The end goal will be to get them back playing for Lille.
The January transfer window and the short/long term goals
This season is a transitional period for us. We are currently in the midst of the transfer window and I think we’ll announce the arrival of three-four players very soon. In a sporting sense, we are very much looking to climb up the table. Then, we’ll look to integrate new ideas and a new head coach to compete within the top 5 clubs in France during the first 12-18 months. After that, in terms of a long-term goal, the objective will be to rise as a top 3 team and aim to compete against the very best in Europe.
Youth at the heart of the project
Selling players for the sake of selling isn’t our objective. Above all else, we are in it for the sport and to stabilise the club. Our goal is based on the current crop of players and to improve them. We are going to work with a young group of 17-23 year olds in the Luchin training complex.
Gérard Lopez’s day-to-day role
Even if I won’t be around on a day-to-day basis or up in the stands, I can assure you that I won’t ever miss a single Lille match. Marc Ingla will be the Managing Director, while Luis Campos will be my right arm man. Within the organisation, we won’t change much.