Lyon fans bemoan Martial sale
Lyon supporters and coach Remi Garde have expressed their regret at the club's decision to allow promising forward Anthony Martial to join Monaco.
Martial, 17, is rated as one of the hottest prospects of his generation, but with Lyon unable to offload their unwanted first-team squad members, such as Bafetimbi Gomis and Jimmy Briand, before the end of the financial year on June 30, the striker was sold to Monaco for €5 million in order to boost the club's flagging finances.
Nearly 6,000 fans signed an online petition in an attempt to convince Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas to change his mind, yet Garde, who gave Martial a brief taste of first-team action last season, told the media that financial obligations meant the club had little choice.
"It all happened quickly. No one thought that he would leave as there were other players on the transfer list,” Garde said at the club’s pre-season training camp at Tignes. “But there are imperatives with regards to the end of the financial year on June 30. The president explained the need to me. It was necessary to accept this transfer as no one else had left.
“Martial is a very, very young player. He had taken part in some first-team training sessions this season. I would have liked to have worked with him longer. But that's the life of a club."
Aulas was unrepentant, however, responding via his official Twitter account to criticism of his decision, which he insisted was entirely justified.
He said: "If it allows us to keep Clement [Grenier], Max [Gonalons], Samuel [Umtiti], Alexandre [Lacazette], Gueida [Fofana], Yassine [Benzia] and the others. You have to be lucid and choose."
He tweeted to another critic: "I think that I've shown in the last 26 years [since taking over as president] that the mistakes were rare and the success recurrent. I'll thank you to trust me."