Scores Rennes en direct
3 September 2011 | à 01h03

Transfer window: a first assessment

The transfer window had shut yesterday at midnight, in a day where Rennes notably signed Youssouf Hadji. A look back at a much animated transfer market rich in rumours, arrivals and departures… and also in unexpected twists.

Transfer window: a first assessment

In the general opinion, and despite the departure of several key players, Rennes is coming out of the summer reinforced in comparison to last season, when the attacking line was clearly lacking depth. Frédéric Antonetti has obtained the signing of players at the positions he had pointed out, although the players recruited have not always been his first choices. Pierre Dréossi and the recruitment unit were indeed forced to go through a true obstacle course to finalise some transfers… while others eventually fell through.

Persistent rumours and aborted transfers

The first big story in this transfer window was the transfer of Jérémy Morel: although Rennes and Lorient had agreed on the conditions of the transfer, Marseille came back in the race during the week-end preceding the player’s signature in Rennes by proposing Morel a better salary. Morel ignored the agreement found with Rennes and eventually completed his move to Marseille, triggering the anger of Pierre Dréossi: “He missed to his word. This will remain as an unfortunate episode, especially for him”, Dréossi affirmed later.
The search for a left back proved tricky for a while, and multiple rumours did the rounds with the names of Marek Čech, Gaëtan Bong, Badr El Kaddouri, Hérita Ilunga and Mouhamadou Dabo successively appearing, before Chris Mavinga was eventually taken on board.

The other transfer saga of the summer was the search for a striker. This position has been problematic at the club since over a year, and the combined departures of Moussa Sow, Mickaël Pagis, Jimmy Briand, Ismaël Bangoura and Asamoah Gyan. Victor Hugo Montaño was therefore left alone at the front of the attack last season, with limited success in part because of the repeated effort he had to put in, with Frédéric Antonetti left without a decent back-up solution. Consequently, the Corsican manager decided to make the recruitment of a centre forward his priority. He describe the ideal player’s profile several times: “We lack a striker having the technical subtlety to force the tightest of defences, and we don’t have that sort of profile” as well as an “attacking leader who brings confidence within the dressing room”.

One of the first strong rumours was leading to Saint-Étienne’s Emmanuel Rivière. Although an agreement had been found with the club and the player in the first place, the situation changed when Toulouse, who had been following the player since months, entered in the negotiations and offered the player a salary twice as high as Stade Rennes’ offer. The Breton club had no other choice but giving up on recruiting the Saint-Etienne striker, being also put off by the player’s ankle injury, which is still keeping him off the pitch at this time.

Then, Stade Rennais have turn their interest towards Anderlecht’s Argentinian forward Matias Suarez, although he wasn’t initially considered as a priority. Not a true centre-forward, his profile of technical player interested Rennes however. After advanced talks with their Belgian counterparts, the Rennes management abandoned the case after the financial expectations from the club from the Jupiler League became too high.

Following these two failures, Rennes multiplied the offers for AS Monaco’s Korean Chu-Young Park. The player never really gave much attention to Rennes however, preferring bigger clubs and better salaries, as proved by his last minute departure to London as Lille were about to finalise his transfer.

But the strongest rumour was eventually the one leading to Paris Saint Germain’s Turkish striker Mevlüt Erding. At the beginning of the summer, L’Équipe mentioned a renewed interest from Stade Rennes for him. An interest already expressed in October 2010, when Rennes had made an offer of 15 million euros to recruit him. The bid was unsuccessful since, according to Frédéric Antonetti, «all the conditions weren’t there ».
At the beginning of June, Stade Rennes took information about the Turkish striker, but the cost of his transfer and his salary were considered as too high for the Stade Rennais, while the player didn’t seem sold to the idea of leaving the French capital. The player eventually changed his mind, and Rennes found an agreement with PSG and Erding, conditioned to the recruitment of an additional striker in Paris.
In the final days of the transfer window, another twist in the saga: Guillaume Hoarau’s injury led Kombouaré to bring Erding back in his squad for a game against Toulouse, the Turkish striker came in with five minutes left to play… and scored. This performance was enjoyed by the sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the club’s owner, who asked Paris SG’s director of sports Leonardo to keep Erding at the club. This decision ruined the hopes of Stade Rennes to attract Mevlüt Erding, even though he had decided to make the move to Brittany.

The situation of Yann M’Vila has also attracted much attention during this transfer window. Many great European clubs have showed their interest for the Rennes defensive midfielder. However, neither the club nor the player wanted to part ways this summer. This didn’t stop Arsenal from offering several offers up to thirty million euros (and even forty million according to Ouest-France). No effect, they will have to wait until next summer, when the French international is expected to be leaving the club.


Jérôme Leroy, an attacking midfielder trained at PSG, who played for numerous clubs such as Marseille, Paris, Guingamp, Lens, Jérusalem or Sochaux, had arrived at Stade Rennes in 2007. His passing ability, his vision, and above all his irreproachable character and his experience have clearly left their mark in the club’s history. He played 152 matches with the “Rouge et Noir” and scored 18 goals. Rennes is the club where he spent the most consecutive seasons.
To this day, Jérôme Leroy remains Rennes’ best goal scorer in the European cups, but he left the club on a free transfer despite his desire to stay for another year. His wish wasn’t granted by Rennes, who didn’t offer him a contract extension. He finally left to join newly-promoted Évian Thonon Gaillard.
Also read: Jérôme Leroy forever

Nicolas Douchez, a goalkeeper trained in Le Havre, was also a key member of the Rennes squad. Arrived from Toulouse, where he had taken the place of Christophe Revault, in summer 2008, he had gradually proved himself as one of France’s very best goalkeepers. After a very good first season, and a more mixed second, he became the goalkeeper of the best defence in France and one of the bests in Europe with the “best saving rate in Ligue 1” ".
Reaching the end of his contract in Summer 2011, Stade Rennes offered him a new contract early in the season, but he preferred to join the Paris Saint Germain for a salary inferior to what was offered to him in Brittany. Since then, with the arrival of Leonardo and of the Qatari investors at Paris Saint-Germain, he saw Salvatore Sirigu, the former Palerme goalkeeper, overtake him in the hierarchy.
Also read: Douchez, a departure and many questions

Sylvain Marveaux, an attacking midfielder trained at the club, played his first season with the “Rouge et Noir” in 2006-2007. Regularly included in the rotation after he signed his first professional contract, he managed a very convincing 2009-2010 season, taking on the role of technical leaded and becoming an essential member of the team. However, recurrent injuries kept on slowing down his progress. Despite this, the club refused to let him go last summer, accepting the possibility to see him leave for free. The Vannes-man eventually played no more than ten games in 2010-2011 and hasn’t played since his last injury in autumn 2010. Marveaux has finally signed with Newcastle after an aborted transfer to Liverpool.

Samuel Souprayen, a left back also trained at the club, was offered his first professional contract in 2008. A year later, he was loaned to the Dijon FCO, the in Ligue 2, where he became a regular first team starter under the management of Patrice Carteron, the former Stade Rennais player. Frédéric Antonetti then included him in the professional squad where he became the substitute of Kévin-Théophile Catherine, but his season was rather average. He was sold to Dijon for 700,000 euros, as the Corsican manager decided not to keep him in the team.

Fabien Lemoine is yet another home-grown player leaving the club. Having been offered his first professional in August 2007, it took him only a few months to take the place of Étienne Didot at midfield, even pushing the latter towards the exit. An indisputable key-player under Guy Lacombe’s management, he kept his place in the squad at the arrival of Frédéric Antonetti, until he lost a kidney in August 2010. After scares that his career could be over, he returned within four months with incredible courage and determination.
However, he didn’t manage to return to the starting eleven, and his suspension for the first two game of the 2011-2012 league season accelerated his departure, with the manager wanting to try other options. He then decided to leave, and the Breton club, not really wanting him to leave, didn’t do much to retain him. As a loan in Évian Thonon Gaillard seemed on the books, he betrayed his agreement and favoured a definitive move to Saint-Étienne for a fee of about 1.5 million euros. He will be remembered at Stade Rennes for his generosity, his fighting spirit, and the strong bond he created with his supporters.
Also read: Lemoine, the fairy tale comes to an end

Other news:

Johann Carasso, the goalkeeper, second to Douchez last year and to Costil this year, has been loaned for one year to AS Monaco, who play in Ligue 2 this season.
John Verhoek, striker and missing playing time, has been loaned for one season to the ADO Den Haag, in the Dutch first division.
Frank Julienne, striker, has been loaned for one season to Le Havre, in Ligue 2.
Lhadji Badiane, another forward, has been transferred to Laval, also in Ligue 2.
Aboul Razzagui Camara, a left winger, left out of the squad by Frédéric Antonetti, has been sold for about 1.5 million euros to FC Sochaux.
Bira Dembélé left to CS Sedan-Ardennes on a free transfer.


Benoît Costil, the goalkeeper signed early June with the difficult task to succeed to Nicolas Douchez. Trained at SM Caen, he played his first professional game in August 2005. He was loaned for a season in Vannes, where he met Christophe Revel, then a professional keeper and now the goalkeeping coach in Rennes. Second to Vincent Planté, he moved to Sedan in 2009. Nominated for the award of best goalkeeper in Ligue 2 after his first season, he was awarded the distinction the following season. After a good start of the season, despite conceding eight goals in four games, he saved his team many times and managed a great performance against his former team, Caen.
Also read : Costil, a gamble and an upset hierarchy

Julien Féret,the attacking midfielder trained at Stade Rennais was the second player to join the Breton club during this transfer window. Although he failed in getting his first professional contract with the “Rouge et Noir” in 2003, this return is a sweet revenge for him. He played for Cherbourg, Niort, Reims before settling at Nancy, where he scored 21 goals in 120 games and delivered scores of assists. The man from Saint Brieuc was bought for 4 million euros and it has to be admitted that he fit in the team very well at the playmaker position. He comes with his passing quality, technique and vision to open-up a Rennes playing style that needed it.
Also read: Julien Féret returns to Stade Rennes to “improve”

Jonathan Pitroipa, looking at his beginning of the season, is another great pick for the Satde Rennais. A winger from Burkina Faso, trained in Ouagadougou, he moved to Germany and SC Freiburg in 2004 before signing for Hamburger SV, where he played 105 games for 6 goals. With his incredible dribbling ability (his agent compares him to the “African Cristiano Ronaldo”), he is also known for his inconsistency. However, Pitroipa calmed down all the criticism early in the season, immediately setting himself up as a key player with his talents in provocation, defence slaying and his ability to score. He certainly is one of the revelations of this beginning Ligue 1 season.
Also read: Pitroipa arrives to “make a mess”

Chris Mavinga, left back, a U20 French international, was trained at Paris Saint Germain but, coveted by many clubs, he signed his first professional contract for Liverpool in summer 2009. He never managed to gain any playing time with the English club’s first team however. In December 2010, he was loaned to KRC Genk (Belgium), where he played nine games and won the Jupiler League. The Parisian then joined the Vilaine banks, after Liverpool sold him for one million euros. Described by his national coach Francis Smerecki as a « modern defender, strong, astute and aggressive”, he had a few chances to show his ability so far this season because of the rotation organised by Frédéric Antonetti. For his first games, the full back played well against Belgrade, was average against Caen, and failed like the rest of the team against Montpellier.
Also read : Mavinga, the left man for the job?

Youssouf Hadji, striker, a Moroccan international, was trained at AS Nancy Lorraine where he started his career in 1998, playing no less than 112 games in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. Looking for a way back in the first division, he moved to Bastia then to… Stade Rennais. Left without much playing time in a really strong attacking line at Rennes, he didn’t really leave a big impression during his spell at the club from June 2005 to January 2007. He then returned to Nancy when he came back to a more central position and played mainly as a centre forward. He played 169 games there for 45 goals.
Having become an essential player for his club, he improved with time and showed his ability as a technical striker, versatile and gifted with a very good heading ability. His arrival, finalised on the last day of the transfer window, closed the saga of the striker search and will certainly bring variety to the attacking line with a profile different to Montaño, as well as his experience and his character known as irreproachable. The very complementary pair he was forming with Julien Féret in Nancy is also recomposed.
Also read : A Plan B named Hadji

Other News:

Vincent Pajot came back fron his loan in Ligue 2 to Boulogne-sur-Mer, where he played 38 games and scored 6 goals.

A recruitment to reach a new step?

Stade Rennais didn’t go for the bling in this transfer window, finally spending little money. But although some recruits are second choice, especially at the centre forward position where Frédéric Antonetti certainly hoped for a player with a stronger potential, the arrivals allowed the club to reinforce the squad where there were gaps, especially in attack, providing the Breton club with a really interesting squad in a qualitative and quantitative way. The integration of the new players was fast, and the fact they are all French-speaking is probably part of it. The departure of some key player has been more than compensated. Also, and may be the most important point, Kader Mangane et Yann M’Vila who are the backbone of the team, have been kept despite the pressure of many teams to try and sign them. However, it will take a bit more time before being able to make a complete assessment of this Rennes squad. The ability of the Rennais to play good games in the Cups and in the league will tells us whether these recruitment helped the club to reach another step.

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