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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr, 17, 2006

Lyon chairman fighting to keep players at champions

PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas says his priority is to keep his best players after the team won a record fifth consecutive Ligue 1 title.

'We have a group with a lot of experience and players living in harmony,' Aulas said after Lyon celebrated their title with a 1-0 away victory over Paris St Germain on Sunday.

'Players who win are a target for other clubs but our priority is to keep them by extending their contracts,' Aulas told Monday's issue of sports daily L'Equipe.

After they won their fourth title last year, Lyon sold Ghana midfielder Michael Essien to Chelsea for 38 million euros.

The players in the current squad most likely to interest top clubs are Brazil's Juninho and Mali's Mahamadou Diarra, both midfielders.

Aulas confirmed Lyon were interested in Anderlecht defender Vincent Kompany but denied reports the 19-year-old Belgium international would join for 16 million euros.

'It is possible that he will come to Lyon but we have not talked to his club yet and 16 million euros is not the right price for that sort of player,' Aulas said.

Lyon, who exited the Champions League in the quarter-finals for the third time in succession this season, are also likely to chase a world-class striker in an effort to make an impact in Europe at last.

Lyon were handed the title on Saturday after second-placed Girondins Bordeaux lost 3-2 at Lille.

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