Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has defended his treatment of Newcastle United target Bafetimbi Gomis as well as the club’s decision to keep hold of Lisandro Lopez instead of the France international.
Following protracted negotiations, Newcastle have agreed a fee with Lyon to sign Gomis, 27, who scored 16 goals in Ligue 1 last season.
The striker, who has one year left to run on his contract, has already rejected several chances to move to another club, and Aulas has admitted that recent events have strained relations.
“Bafe gave me a commitment to either leave for a fee or to sign a new contract with us,” Aulas told Le Journal du Dimanche. “His agent Etienne Mendy - but is he really an agent since he doesn’t have a licence? - questioned the word that was given.
“The situation is certainly difficult to live with for a player whose ambition is to play in the World Cup. But it’s not easy for us either.
“We were very close to him when he experienced some difficult moments. I have a lot of affection for his family. But for the club, it’s an obsession to settle this difficult case successfully.”
Aulas said he was hurt by Gomis’ decision to watch local rivals and former club St Etienne in Europa League action on Thursday, but that he could forgive him for his actions.
However, the Lyon chief also sought to justify the club’s decision to keep Lopez, 30, another striker in the final year of his contract, over Gomis.
“It’s first of all a financial decision,” Aulas said. “Then it’s a sporting one, which [Lyon coach] Remi Garde is responsible for.
"Lisandro has a charisma and a relationship that’s extremely pure and strong. Of course, there are Bafe’s statistics but there’s also the collective life, the dressing room [to think about].”
Meanwhile, another striker linked with Newcastle this summer has dismissed talk of a move to England.
Andre-Pierre Gignac has two years left on a lucrative deal at Marseille and has said he has not thought about leaving the club this summer.
“I’m coming out of a season that could be considered a good one after two that were very difficult,” he told L’Equipe. “I scored 18 goals in all competitions. Do you think that I’m saying to myself, after reversing the trend, that I’m going to leave? Then you don’t know me well. I never intended to leave. Never.
“Newcastle and all the rest, it’s rubbish. These rumours don’t unsettle me. There was talk of Newcastle but if it was Real Madrid, it would be the same. I want to do better with Marseille.”