Can Arsenal save target from Ligue 1 transfer nightmare?

Sebastien Corchia

Lille OSC set to fight decision to cancel transfer for Sebastien Corchia, but face an uphill task.

They say that third time is the charm, not for Sochaux full-back Sebastien Corchia it’s not. The former French U-21 Captain had thought that his deadline-day move to Lille OSC had ended his transfer nightmares, but now after his new club failed to ratify the move with the DNCG, he is on his way back to relegation strugglers FC Sochaux.

Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have long been admirers of Corchia, and the latest set-back in the 23-year-old’s career could see the London club finally make a move for the player long expected to become Bacary Sagna’s replacement for both club and country.

Back in the summer, Corchia was all set to sign for former French powerhouse, Olympique Lyonnais. The player had made a visit to the club's training ground, he had agreed personal terms and even made an announcement that Lyon would be his next destination.

Then Sochaux began to quarrel with Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, trying to squeeze an extra €250,000 out of OL, but Sochaux were playing with fire. Aulas took offence and called off the transfer at the last minute. He claimed the two sides were quite far apart in terms of money, but for Corchia it was the beginning of possible his most depressing season so far.

As the summer transfer window began to close, Marseille made a last-ditch attempt to sign the defender before the midnight deadline. Unfortunately the club were still concluding deals for both Florian Thauvin and Mario Lemina so they weren’t able to complete the paperwork in time, even the agreement of an initial loan deal couldn’t get the move over the line. Corchia once again was forced to forget about a move to one of France’s biggest clubs and would continue the season with Sochaux.

Now to this week, and everyone assumed the deal between Socahux and Lille was done and dusted. The player was presented to the media with his new shirt in-hand, the official Lille website declared it complete, an interview with the player was broadcast, finally Corchia had his move. Or so we thought.

The Direction Nationale du Contrôle de Gestion (DNCG) is the organisation responsible for monitoring and overseeing the accounts of football clubs in France. They have overall say whether or not a club can afford any new business, be it a new signing or a player signing a new contract. Lille failed to clear the Corchia transfer with the DNCG before completing the deal and on Wednesday night the DNCG declared that the move was invalid, and the player would have to return to Sochaux.

Lille are set to fight the decision, with club president Michel Seydoux personally taking the case to the Comité National Olympique et Sportif Français (CNOSF). His argument will focus on the fact that Lille had been able to release Brazilian Tulio de Melo from the wage bill, the striker was reportedly on around €200,000 a month, significantly more than the €60,000 that Corchia was set to earn. He will also appeal that the business was necessary after first-team right-back Franck Beria picked up an injury in January and he is set to miss between eight and 10 weeks.

Seydoux’s other argument will centre around the fact that because of Corchia’s age and ability, the €2.5 million spent is seen more as an investment, with the prospect of Lille being able to sell him on in the future and make a substantial profit.

The DNCG were not satisfied that Lille had done enough to bring down their wage bill and were worried that the club was trying to operate outwith it’s means. The recent contract extensions to a number of players, especially goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama – a deal itself that worried the DNCG and took longer than normal to be verified – meant that although they were able to remove some of the burden with de Melo moving to Evian, it would not be enough to justify the Corchia deal.

With Lille set to continue their appeals process, the player remains the property of Sochaux. Ironically his club are set to travel north to face Lille this weekend, it is unlikely that the defender will feature after not training with Hervé Renard’s team all week, but it won’t make it any easier for the player to return to the latest scene of his continuing disappointment.

With deals with Lyon, Marseille and Lille all failing to give Corchia that next step in his career, there is a chance for Arsenal and other Premier League teams to save him from his Ligue 1 nightmare and pick up a very talented player for a knock-down bargain price this summer.

image: © Le Mans

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