Skip to content

Between youth and experience, LOSC must find its balance

For more than 15 years, LOSC has constantly had to reinvent itself in order to exist at the highest level on the national scene. With each new project, more or less success.

Ride youth!

In its recent history, the LOSC has often had, by financial obligation, to oblige itself to give pride of place to young people, from training or from elsewhere. The project led by Claude Puel in the 2000s is the best example of this: each season, a number of young unknowns arrive in the first team, before taking a more important place in the team in the following years.

Strategically, the “construction” project wanted by Claude Puel and Michel Seydoux should have gradually given way to the recruitment of more expensive players. But the failures of LOSC in the league and the casting errors of the last mercatos of the Garcia era will drag the finances of the Lille club into the red, forcing it to turn again to young people with high potential. In the summer of 2015, this new strategy was fully assumed by management. After the arrival of Sofiane Boufal, Michel Seydoux slips to Jean-Michel Vandamme: ” We move on: now I’m going to recruit hopefuls “.

To set up this new project, Hervé Renard joined the North, and the LOSC recruited in turn Sehrou Guirassy, ​​Mike Maignan, Yassine Benzia, Junior Tallo or even Ibrahim Amadou. Conversely, the big salaries (Nolan Roux, Simon Kjaer) are leaving. In the reserve team, the Lille club gives a chance to Adriel d’Avila Ba Loua, Patrick N’Goma and a certain Patson Daka, who has since become a recognized striker in the Premier League.

This new strategy quickly leads LOSC to a dead end: almost all young people discover Ligue 1, and adapt neither to the intensity required by the championship, nor to the tactics of coach Renard, dismissed after 13 days. In the winter, the workforce rejuvenation project is already coming to an end: When I leave, a month and a half later, Lille recruits three more or less confirmed players: Rony Lopes, Eder and Morgan Amalfitano. It was no longer the same project remarks the current coach of Saudi Arabia for RMC Sports.

The Seydoux era ended, it was under Gérard Lopez that LOSC returned to a project mainly focused on youth. Once again, this choice is essentially linked to the difficulties of the northern club on the financial level, with a structural deficit which continues to widen each season. The resale of young players in full development should allow Lille to fill this gap at the end of each season, while reinvesting in other players supervised by Luis Campos. The ” Loco “ Marcelo Bielsa agrees for his part to lead an extremely young group (the youngest in Europe) to the top 5, developing an attractive game focused on attack.

But as with Hervé Renard earlier before him, the mayonnaise does not take and the LOSC sinks to the bottom of the Ligue 1. With no framework in the team, the young Dogues are without solution against teams accustomed in games of the highest French level. At the same time, the financial situation of the Lille club is worrying, and the club finds itself deprived of recruitment in the transfer window. The leaders of the northern club end up learning from their mistakes, and will never let such an inexperienced group be aligned in Ligue 1 again in the following seasons.

Twice over the last ten years, the French championship has therefore brought Lille leaders back to the harsh reality: launching young people is one thing, but depriving – or almost – of its executive team is another.

Experience above all?

Conversely, LOSC has sometimes wanted to rely on more experienced players rather than young players in the making. Under Rudi Garcia, young people trained at the club or spotted by the Lille recruitment unit must be content with crumbs, in favor of experienced players and regulars in Ligue 1. This strategy, although successful on the sporting level (four qualifications in a row in the European Cup and a double remembered) is nonetheless a terrible financial failure.

Indeed, experienced players cost the club more, in terms of salary and recruitment allowance. Garcia’s strategy condemns the club to failure when it does not qualify for a European Cup. In 2013, the Lille coach joined Roma, leaving behind a club in financial difficulty. For several years, LOSC had to tighten its belt following this project which was far too costly for its finances at the time.

A few seasons later, in the winter of 2015, Frédéric Antonetti rushed to Lille to save a club on the edge of a precipice. The team, far too young to compete in Ligue 1 (see above), must strengthen in the winter transfer window. The leaders understand that their plan to rejuvenate the workforce is not working. Change of course therefore, with the arrival of confirmed players like Morgan Amalfitano and Eder. Winning “coaching” for the leaders and for the Lille team, which finds the top 5 and the Europa League at the end of the season.

In line with this successful season, LOSC is continuing in the sporting direction it has just adopted with the arrival of Frédéric Antonetti. Now, the average age of Lille recruits is around 26 and a half. Most are Ligue 1 connoisseurs, with Sankharé, Palmieri and de Préville each having more than 110 Ligue 1 games before arriving in the North. A far cry from the many inexperienced recruits from the previous summer transfer window.

This new sports policy almost seems to “sacrifice” the future of certain young players, such as Benjamin Pavard (not retained by his coach) and Sehrou Guirassy, ​​who are finally guided towards the exit. Sofiane Boufal (22 years old in 2016) and Djibril Sidibé (23 years old at the time) are sold for financial reasons, while the non-performing youngsters fly away on loan to the four corners of France.

The new workforce of LOSC is therefore the opposite of that of the previous season. Much more experienced, the Lille group will not however succeed in their start to the season. Like the previous year, the northern club is in great difficulty in the league and is eliminated in August from the European Cup. The arrival of Gérard Lopez sounds the death knell for this project which only lasted a few months.

Finally, the conclusion is clear: LOSC is having the best seasons in its recent history when it manages to build a “mixed” group, made up of both experienced players and young players in the making. Favoring a surplus of experience or youth almost always leads to the same result: to sporting or even financial failure. It is up to the Lille leaders to maintain this balance in the coming years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.