As in past seasons, Lyon have watched some of their top talents leave for “bigger” clubs (though higher wages and lower taxes are generally believed to be a contributing factor). With the recent changes to their squad, the six-time reigning champs have had a slow start to the season, having earned just three points from as many matches and they have lost their last two games. Lyon do have injury problems with both goalkeeper Gregory Coupet and defender Cris sidelined for months with knee injuries. Also currently on the injury list are Brazilian striker Fred, striker Sidney Govou and exciting young forward Hatem Ben Harfa.
With those injuries, it seems odd that they would let striker Sylvain Wiltord leave for Stade Rennes but apparently he was let go because of a poor disciplinary record with the club. The 33-year-old Wiltord left Rennes in 1997 for Bordeaux before moving on to Arsenal. Wiltord won the last three Ligue 1 titles with Lyon and also earned a French title with Bordeaux in 1999. During his four-year spell at Arsenal, he won two Premier League titles and lifted the FA Cup twice.
Also worth discussing is that Lyon have a new manager. When Paul Le Guen departed, Gerard Houllier was brought in to guide the squad. Depsite cruising through the French league, Lyon were expected to progress in the Champions League. That has not happened and many felt that Lyon had begun to move backward rather than improving. They ended the season in less than stellar form and over this summer Alain Perrin was brought in to get the team back on course. He has been given a strong core of players to work with including Milan Baros, Juninho, Govou and new signings Keita and full-back Nadir Belhadj, who had a strong showing at Sedan last season.
Here’s a quick list of the clubs transfers this summer.
Florent Malouda to Chelsea
Tiago to Juventus
Jeremy Berthod to Monaco
Kader Keita from Lille
Mathieu Bodmer from Lille
Nadir Belhadj from Sedan
Perrin will have his work cut out for him and anything less than winning the league and a strong Champions League showing will be viewed as a disappointment.