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Aug 12, 2013

Bafetimbi Gomis row continues

The fallout over the botched transfer of Bafetimbi Gomis from Lyon to Newcastle United has continued, with Marseille president Vincent Labrune denying accusations that his club had scuppered the deal.

Two weeks ago, Lyon agreed to sell Gomis, 28, for an initial fee of €8 million -- but after the move fell through, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas blamed agent fees and behind-the-scenes intervention by Marseille.

Aulas reported Marseille to the league over an alleged illegal approach for the player, saying he had only done so after Labrune refused to heed a warning.

"We saw Vincent on August 2 and I asked him to stop his manoeuvres," Aulas told Le Journal du Dimanche.

"But Marseille continued, and it was only after I verified that they didn’t want to invest the sum that was demanded that I asked for an explanation from the league’s Commission for Legal Affairs."

Labrune hit back in the same paper, saying: "As I said to Jean-Michel Aulas, I’m not going to shoot myself in the head because players are interested in the sporting challenge at Marseille. Our strategy is good."

It now seems likely that Gomis will stay at Lyon after they sold Lisandro Lopez, another striker, last week.

Aulas said on Monday that both parties need to soften their positions before Gomis could regain a place in the side.

"Obviously the departure of Licha [Lopez] is a new problem for us." Aulas told Lyon's official website. "I hope to get everyone around the table to discuss it.

"There are no offers for Bafe [Gomis]. I’m ready to move to discuss things with Bafe. You have to show humility, myself first of all. Bafe needs to play. I say to myself that it would be an error to stay firmly settled in our positions.

"We’ll have to work with his agent to find something that suits him so that he can stay at Lyon with relations in good condition."

Marseille have also been criticised by Lille over their pursuit of attacking midfielder Florian Thauvin, 20, this summer.

They are still interested in Thauvin, who missed a public training session on Thursday and was not in the stands for the weekend win over Lorient, ostensibly because he did not want to face flak from supporters.  

Marseille have already had one offer for Thauvin rejected and, according to L’Equipe, would have to increase that bid to €7.5 million to have any chance of signing him.

Marseille’s three summer signings -- Giannelli Imbula, Benjamin Mendy and Dmitri Payet -- all started in Sunday's opening-day win over Guingamp.

Payet scored twice and Labrune said Marseille would continue to sign the best French players on the market -- making no apologies for targeting Gomis and Thauvin.

"We were already the French people’s favourite club," he told the JDD. "We’ve also become the players’ favourite club."

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