PSG brings in new signing, other clubs seek loans

On a slow-moving last day of transfers in the French league,

Paris Saint-Germain predictably stole the headlines by signing

midfielder Thiago Motta from Inter Milan to take its season’s

spending spree comfortably over ?100 million ($143 million).

Other clubs, meanwhile, were scratching around trying to bring

players in on loan and could only dream about having the seemingly

bottomless funds that PSG’s ambitious Qatari owners, QSI, are

providing the ambitious French leader with.

No financial details were given, but reports in France and Italy

estimated Motta’s transfer at ?10 million ($14.3 million). Motta,

who previously played for Barcelona and has played six times for

Brazil, also brings valuable experience to a PSG team chasing its

first league title since 1994 and which has not played in the

Champions League since 2004.

He is new coach Carlo Ancelotti’s third signing of the January

transfer window – all three are Brazilians, with central defender

Alex joining from Chelsea last week, and left back Maxwell arriving

previously from Barcelona.

Motta’s signing will be a relief to PSG’s Brazilian sporting

director Leonardo, and help soften the blow of missing out on an

even bigger name after deals for strikers Carlos Tevez from

Manchester City and Alexandre Pato from AC Milan fell through. PSG

also missed out on former England captain David Beckham when he

decided to stay with LA Galaxy.

”It’s normal that it’s more difficult to sign someone in Ligue

1 than in Spain or in England, but things can change,” Leonardo

said recently.

Far away from the French Capital, PSG’s bitter southern rival

Marseille could not afford to sign anyone, let alone someone of

Motta’s caliber, and preferred to balance its books by selling one

of its best players.

The day after offloading midfielder Lucho Gonzalez to FC Porto,

Marseille coach Didier Deschamps ruled out any last-minute

signings. Selling Gonzalez saves Marseille ?400,000 ($570,000) per

month, as he was the club’s highest earner, and helps the team hold

onto star striker Loic Remy, who has been closely watched by

Tottenham coach Harry Redknapp.

”We won’t sign anyone. We don’t have the capacity to invest, I

wasn’t expecting anything,” Deschamps said. ”I’m sad he

(Gonzalez) has left us.”

Last season, Marseille spent nearly ?30 million ($42.8 million)

on strikers Andre-Pierre Gignac and Loic Remy but failed to retain

its league title.

Seven-time French champion Lyon was for many years one of the

biggest spenders in France, but under new coach Remi Garde the club

is trying to bring through youth players rather than splash out on

big names.

Lyon spent ?22 million ($27.8 million) on signing Yoann Gourcuff

from Bordeaux last season, but such has been his lack of form that

the playmaker is now a reserve and has lost his place in the France


Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas is now trying to bring money

in, rather than spend, as he tries to fund a new stadium.

Lyon cut its payroll in the offseason by selling Bosnia

playmaker Miralem Pjanic to Roma for ?11 million ($15.5 million)

and France international Jeremy Toulalan to Spanish side Malaga for

?10 million ($14 million).

Big names like Michael Essien, Eric Abidal and Karim Benzema no

longer grace Lyon’s Stade Gerland.

However, on the positive side of things, that means players like

18-year-old defender Samuel Umtiti; 21-year-old midfielder Clement

Grenier and 20-year-old forward Alexandre Lacazette are all getting

their chance.

They all played under Garde when he was Lyon’s youth team


Elsewhere, Brest signed Issam Jemaa on loan from Auxerre until

the end of the season.

The 24-year-old striker, who has two league goals this season,

has scored 27 goals in 60 games for Tunisia and is playing for his

country at the African Cup of Nations.

Brest sold star striker Nolan Roux to defending French champion

Lille last week and acquired forward Alexandre Alphonse last week

from FC Zurich.

Lorient president Loic Fery tried unsuccessfully to sign Gignac

on loan. The former France international, who previously played for

Lorient, has struggled for form since joining Marseille two seasons


”We would have been glad to welcome Gignac here until the end

of the season,” Fery told RMC radio on Tuesday. ”Unfortunately we

couldn’t do it. The player wants to establish himself at


Auxerre, which is struggling in 18th place in the first

division, boosted its midfield by signing Georges Mandjeck from

Rennes for a reported fee of ?1.5 million ($2.1 million).

The Cameroon midfielder fell out with Rennes coach Frederic

Ancelotti after he was substituted after only 36 minutes in a match

against Brest in December. Antonetti picked him to play just once

more, in the Europa League.

Saint-Etienne signed left back Jonathan Brison from Nancy on a 3

1/2-year deal.

Jerome Pugmire can be reached at