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Lopez steps down as Lyon captain

Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez has asked to be relieved of the club's captaincy so he can focus more on his own game.

Lopez, 29, has scored six times in 14 top-flight appearances this season as his team enjoyed an excellent first half of the Ligue 1 campaign and reached the knockout stages of the Europa League.

However, the Argentina international forward has told coach Remi Garde he no longer feels he can lead the side.

"It's an important moment. Licha came to me and asked to be relieved of the job so that he can concentrate on his own game," Garde explained.

"I finally accepted after having tried to resist. I'm also here to listen, understand and help the players."

Defensive midfielder Maxime Gonalons, 23, a product of the Lyon youth academy who has emerged as an integral part of the first team and earned international recognition with France, is Lisandro's replacement.

"It was a natural choice. He represents a lot for the club. He's not a young player nor a veteran. He's an international and has not stopped improving," Garde said before adding that "there are several vice-captains".

Goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre, an established dressing room leader even before he stepped up to fill the void left by the summer departure of Hugo Lloris, shrugged off suggestions that a change of captaincy would disrupt the harmonious atmosphere at the Stade de Gerland.

"It's not a problem," he said, before adding that even the winter transfer window, in which club president Jean-Michel Aulas has vowed to sell at least one major player, was not causing a problem.

"It's nothing like the summer one. It's calm, and we're not even talking about it among ourselves," he said.

"I don't get the impression anyone wants to leave. We'll see. I don't think we'll bring anyone in either. The reinforcements will come in the shape of injured players getting fit again. Having said that, if the board decide to strengthen, why not?"

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