Lyon worried by Gourcuff injuries
Influential Lyon legend Bernard Lacombe has admitted Yoann Gourcuff is "a worry" to the Ligue 1 side while calling Lisandro Lopez "bloody annoying" at times.
Gourcuff, 26, was among France's brightest hopes when he was the creative inspiration of the Bordeaux team which won the Ligue 1 title in 2009. However, he has struggled to justify his €22 million transfer fee since moving to Stade de Gerland in summer 2010, with a series of injuries limiting him to just 47 top-flight appearances.
"Gourcuff is a worry. He came to us to add to something to the team, and he's had a lot of physical problems," Lacombe, who is currently special advisor to Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, told RMC radio. "It's always difficult to come back, and today he's finding it tough to recapture his best form. Let's hope that he can help us in the second half of the season, because we're going to need him, just as we'll need everyone else. He's an important player in our squad."
While Gourcuff was an unused substitute during Lyon's 3-1 defeat at home to Lille on Sunday evening, a result which leaves them six points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain, Lisandro, 29, was included in Remi Garde's starting line-up after returning from a fourth injury-enforced lay-off this season.
The Argentine international had been tipped to leave OL last month, but a calf injury during the warm-up ahead of his club's match at Valenciennes left him in tears in the dressing-room as it put paid to a loan move to Juventus, L'Equipe reports, while Aulas rejected a €6 million bid for the striker from Tottenham Hotspur on deadline day.
"He was disturbed, just like anyone can be when you see all that went on during the winter transfer window. He's not someone who talks a lot. He's less open than Bafé [Gomis]. He's a striker who's reserved," Lacombe, who was a prolific forward at OL in the 1970s before coaching them in the late 1990s, said. "At times, he's difficult. As a forward, he can be a little bloody annoying when he doesn't score. But that's normal, it's like a drug to him."
The ex-Porto man got his first goal of 2013 with a penalty against Lille, though may not have enjoyed his run-out in his favoured central role, a position he has only been used in sparingly by Garde this season. The OL boss has often opted to employ Lisandro wide on the left, a tactical switch the player himself has publicly declared his unhappiness with. Rather than hit back, Garde has shown empathy with his former captain's situation both on and off the pitch.
"I can imagine that he was hurt [by the transfer speculation], because Licha is a sensitive boy. Even if these situations are not easy to handle and get over, it's necessary to face up to reality, and look at what the future holds," Garde told the press before the Lille game. "I always need players who can make a difference, and who are looked up to as leaders. Lisandro is a player the squad needs."