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A knee injury prevented reported Liverpool, Arsenal and Wolves target Renato Sanches leaving Ligue 1 champions Lille in the transfer window, president Olivier Letang has told La Voix du Nord. 

The crown may be slipping already – the coupon-busting champions are seven points behind top-of-the-table Paris Saint-Germain just four games into a doomed title defence – but it’s not all bad news at the Stade Pierre Mauroy. 

Boubakary Soumare and Mike Maignan may have left for Leicester City and AC Milan respectively but Lille did manage to retain the services of Zeki Celik, Sven Botman, Jonathan David and Jonathan Bamba against all odds.

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A rejuvenated Sanches, meanwhile, is still plying his trade in French football too, despite being linked with a handful of big-name Premier League clubs during a summer of intense speculation. 

Liverpool and Arsenal both eyed Renato Sanches during the transfer window

Mundo Deportivo reported Liverpool was the most likely destination earlier in the summer for the Euro 2016 winner, while Arsenal were also linked, via the Daily Mail. 

Wolves came closer than anyone only for a deadline-day switch to collapse at the eleventh hour last week. Bruno Lage’s side wanted Sanches on loan but the negotiations fell through after Lille were alleged to have demanded the inclusion of a £25 million purchase clause. 

According to Letang, however, Sanches is still a Lille player because of an ill-timed injury, rather than financial reasons. 

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“It’s an open secret. Renato could have left, he had an exit certificate,” says Letang of a man who rebuilt his reputation at Lille after damaging spells at Bayern Munich and Swansea City. 

Interestingly, Sanches worked under Lage during his short-lived loan spell at the Liberty Stadium. 

“We had almost reached an agreement with a very big club but his knee injury changed the plans,” Letang adds.  

“Now, we are happy to have Renato still with us and we hope he comes back (from injury as soon as possible).” 

Sanches has missed the past three Ligue 1 games because of his fitness problems.

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