Ever since he completed his free transfer to Lille two seasons ago, every transfer window it seems that Salomon Kalou is linked with a move back to England. With Liverpool, Arsenal and West Ham United all reportedly keen, it seems like a move would suit all parties this summer, with Lille leaving the door wide open for Kalou to leave the club this summer.
French newspaper L’Equipe has revealed that Lille would prefer to off-load Kalou this summer, even if they manage to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.
After beating Grasshoppers of Zurich 3-1 on aggregate in the third qualifiying round, Lille will face one of Arsenal, FC Porto, Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen or Napoli in the final play-off round over two-legs for a place in the Champions League.
No matter the opposition, Lille will start as the underdogs. Arsenal would probably be the preferred opponent, mostly due to the small distance to travel and it would give Kalou two games live on British TV to try and secure a move away from Les Dogues.
Liverpool’s move to sign Divock Origi but return him to Lille on loan opens up the opportunity for Lille to take Kalou off the wage bill. He is the top earner at the club, and in the current financial state of French football, his wages – reportedly around €2 million a year – are just too high for Lille to sustain.
Even if they receive a small transfer fee of around €3 million, it would still give the club €5 million to invest on new recruits.
The 29-year-old Ivorian striker has played 66 games for Lille in Ligue 1 and he has scored 30 goals. The record looks impressive, but for anyone that has watched his performances, the overall feeling is that he could have done so much better.
In his first season with 11 games left he had only scored three times, he then returned from the African Cup of Nations and went on a scoring spree, firing in another 14 goals in two months.
This season, five of his strikes were penalties, and scored nine in his last two months. His lack of consistency and failure to become a true star in this Lille side has left the club willing to let him go.
However, they now have to find a club to take the burden of his wage and his abilities.