Ten Ligue 1 players who could move in January transfer window
Striker Andre-Pierre Gignac has become a malcontent at Marseille
Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff is a known target for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal
Uruguay captain Diego Lugano could be offloaded by Paris Saint-Germain
Ten Ligue 1 players who could move in the January transfer window:
Price: €9 million ($11.8M)
Interested clubs: Udinese
The Frenchman hit the headlines early in the season after making himself unavailable for selection in the week before the August transfer window closed, so keen was he, along with striker Modibo Maiga, to push through a move away from Sochaux. Since returning to the first team, he has played well but Sochaux is still keen to offload him and are close to an agreement with the Italian title contenders.
Price: €8M ($10.3M)
Interested clubs: Fulham, Wolfsburg, Trabzonspor, Galatasaray
Gignac was Ligue 1's top scorer in 2008-09 but since then has failed to reach double-figures. He almost moved to Fulham on Aug. 31, but Marseille's inability to sign Amauri as his replacement scuppered that move. Instead, he has been quietly sulking on the Marseille bench, until he erupted dramatically with an offensive outburst at coach Didier Deschamps before a recent Champions League match. Refusing to apologize the next day did him no favors. Marseille wants him out, but a recent groin injury has ruled him out until February, which adds even more risk to his purchase.
Price: €3M ($3.8M)
Interested clubs: Aston Villa, Bolton, Rubin Kazan, Galatasaray
Lugano was signed by PSG sports director Leonardo to bring leadership and a winning mentality to this squad. As captain of Uruguay's Copa America-winning side, the rugged center back is only one of two first-team members to have won major trophies (Momo Sissoko, whose last trophy was the 2006 FA Cup with Liverpool is the other). It hasn't quite worked out like that, though: France Football rated Lugano the worst of PSG's nine signings, writing, "This Diego is dizzy, slow to react and needs to visit an optician." His performance ratings, according to L'Equipe, average only 4.8 out of 10, and the same paper reported that the club is looking to move him on quickly. He's just turned 31 and has not become a bad player overnight: he could prove a canny short-term signing for the right team.
Price: €14M ($18M)
Interested clubs: Arsenal
Arsenal scout Gilles Grimandi confirmed on French TV show The Specialists that the Gunners had tried to take Gourcuff on loan from Lyon during the summer, but were turned down. Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas was hopeful that under new coach Remi Garde, Gourcuff could rediscover the form that inspired Bordeaux to the 2009 title, but the €23.5M ($39M) playmaker, recently back from injury, has shone only occasionally. Aulas has insisted Gourcuff is not for sale but after his miserable 18 months at the club, would be tempted to accept a deal if the money is right. "If Gourcuff moved to Arsenal, it would be great for him, he could get back to his best form, and his style of play is perfect for Arsenal," former Arsenal winger Robert Pires told The Specialists. "It could suit everyone."
Price: €5M ($6.4M)
Interested clubs: Schalke, Stuttgart, Wolfsburg, West Bromwich Albion
Left midfielder Sako has a contract until 2014 but has lost his place to August deadline-day signings Max Gradel and Banel Nicolita, Their partnership in the side has coincided with an upsurge in results, with Saint-Etienne winning four of its last five games before the winter break. Coach Christophe Galtier wants to keep him but Sako is desperate for game time and was reported to have had a tour of Stuttgart last week.
Price: €8M ($10.3M)
Interested clubs: Arsenal, Roma, Napoli, Lazio, Inter, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid
The Argentine was robbed at gunpoint in his house last March and has wanted to leave Marseille ever since. Marseille negotiated with Roma over the summer, but the two clubs were too far apart on their valuations (Marseille wanted €12m, Roma offered €5m). The player then told Radio Rivadavia in late-August that talks had started with Arsenal. "I identify with their way of football and I think I could fit in perfectly," he said, but that never happened either. Marseille coach Didier Deschamps still picks the playmaker even though his performances continue to divide opinion. Confronted with the right offer, Marseille would be happy to sell.
Interested clubs: Fulham, Valencia
It's hard not to feel sorry for Douchez: within weeks of joining Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent after an outstanding season with Rennes, Leonardo was installed as sports director, and promptly demanded the signing of Italian stopper Salvatore Sirigu from Palermo. Sirigu has been superb, voted the best of PSG's nine summer signings, and left Douchez kicking his heels on the sidelines, with eight appearances (seven in Europa League, one League Cup -- PSG are now out of both competitions) this season. Douchez is a good goalkeeper and was in the running to be third-choice in the France squad for Euro 2012. That now looks impossible unless he moves fast.
Price: €10M ($12.9M)
Interested clubs: Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica, Manchester United
M'Bia made a rod for his own back when Marseille coach Didier Deschamps moved him to emergency center back in the 2009-10 season. He played so well that, after Marseille was crowned champions that season, he was stuck there, despite preferring a midfield berth. The 25-year-old, a gentle giant off the pitch but tough as nails on it, has this season lost his place at the back to star of the future Nicolas N'Koulou, and has made no secret of his desire to move to England. "When I was at Rennes [from 2004-09], I said that one day I would play for Manchester United," he told L'Equipe last year. "That was a dream but it's now become something realistic, thanks to my performances and those of my team."
Price: €7M ($9M)
Interested clubs: Borussia Dortmund, CSKA Moscow
Left back Cissokho was a target for Newcastle and Liverpool last summer, but Lyon's refusal to accept an offer below €10M ended his hopes of a move. The former Porto player, who was a dental check away from joining AC Milan in 2009, has been an ever-present this season, but Lyon is ready to sell as it bought Mouhamadou Dabo, who can play at fullback on either side, from Sevilla last summer.
Price: €12M ($15.5M)
Interested clubs: Fulham, Newcastle, Roma, Sevilla, Hamburg, Schalke
The 23-year-old Gabon international was bought from second division Angers to replace Arsenal-bound Laurent Koscielny in summer 2010, and within six months, was being linked with moves to PSG, Lille and Lyon. He recently extended his contract at Lorient until 2015, and the club is thought to have upped his buyout clause to over €10M. Playing for Gabon at the Cup of African Nations might make a January move tricky, but a decent performance in the tournament could expedite a departure from Britanny.
Ben Lyttleton has written about French football for various publications. He edited an oral history of the European Cup, Match of My Life: European Cup Finals, which was published in 2006.