Gonalons move to Napoli blocked
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has blocked a move to Napoli for Maxime Gonalons after coach Remi Garde demanded to keep his captain.
Gonalons, 24, appeared set to move after the Serie A club made a bid totalling 17 million euros for the French international midfielder.
However, following discussions with Gonalons and Garde on Monday, Aulas told RMC that the player will remain at the Stade de Gerland until the end of the season.
"For Max, I reply: 'No.' I've just talked to Aurelio de Laurentiis, the Napoli president, who is someone I respect. I told him that I was going to say on RMC that Max was going to stay at Lyon," Aulas said on Tuesday.
"The decision was made on Monday evening. I saw Max on Monday afternoon. I had a long talk with Remi Garde. He told me we absolutely had to keep Max because he's the symbol of our policy. He's one of the players who have come through the youth academy in Lyon and who could go to the World Cup in Brazil."
Aulas denied that Garde had threatened to resign if Gonalons was allowed to leave, and said he hoped the former Arsenal midfielder, who is in his first senior coaching role, would extend his contract beyond this season.
Though Garde and Gonalons both have an immediate future at OL, the seven-time champions are ready to offload both Yoann Gourcuff and Bafetimbi Gomis in the January transfer window.
Gourcuff, 27, has failed to live up to expectations since his 22 million euro move from Bordeaux in 2010. The France international midfielder signed a five-year deal that made him the highest-paid Frenchman in Ligue 1, but with Lyon looking to reduce costs following a fifth successive financial year in the red, Aulas offered him a two-year contract extension with a reduced salary in December -- an offer Gourcuff declined.
"He said no. I regret that, but he's among the players I admire. He's refound his game in recent times," Aulas said. "He's among the players about whom we're ready to talk during the winter window. We're talking about it. With Grenier and him, we have two players who are complementary, but who also play in the same position.
"There have been no offers, but I assure you there are talks with clubs, and clubs of a very high level."
Gomis, 28, has refused to leave OL over the last year, remaining despite Aulas' public attempts to force him out last summer with a year remaining on his contract.
Like Gourcuff, the France international striker has also rejected the club's offer of an extended deal but could still bring the side he joined from Saint-Etienne for 15 million in 2009 some return on their investment this month. Newcastle United are thought to be leading the hunt.
"I would like to find an agreement to let go the two players whose contracts are up in June, that is to say him and Jimmy Briand," Aulas said.
"I even proposed Bafe a contract extension, which wasn't accepted. But both of them have behaved well following the discussions this summer, discussions undertaken in the club's interest. It wasn't possible then, but it's still possible in January."