Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughBig summer for: Lille - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Big summer for: Lille - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Big summer for: Lille

Lille OSC are expected to undergo a major revamp this summer. Having secured a third place finish, just a year after their Ligue 1 win, a place in next year’s Champions League is guaranteed. The participation in Europe’s elite competition for the new campaign will boost the recognition of the club around the world.

However, will it be enough to convince the big name players currently plying their trade with club to remain in France? If their latest transfer dealings are anything to go by, it’s unlikely. Gervinho left last summer for Arsenal, Moussa Sow moved to Fenerbache whilst Eden Hazard recently confirmed he is to move to Chelsea.

On top of that, Adil Rami moved to Valencia, Yohan Cabaye joined Newcastle United, Joe Cole is expected to return to Liverpool following the culmination of his loan spell this summer and Mathieu Debuchy is a reported target for a host of clubs across Europe. The loss of key players and star performers will undoubtedly hamper Les Dogues and is set to leave manager Rudi Garcia with a tough summer on his hands.

The Hazard factor

Once Gervinho and Sow had departed the club, Hazard was expected to quickly follow suit. A January exit had been mooted, but after confirming he would remain with Lille until the summer, the Belgian international conceded he would be leaving at the end of the season. Having finished the season with 22 goals, which included a hat-trick in the last game of the season against Nancy, and 16 assists, it was hardly surprising to have seen Hazard touted around Europe.

Yet, the way he has gone about deciding which team he is set to play for next season has already seen a number of fans turn their back on him. Confirming his intention to play in England earlier this season, the race started to bring in one of the game’s highest rated youngsters. Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, briefly, and Chelsea all emerged as favourites to secure his signature ahead of the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

As the months have dragged on, the front-runners began to reveal themselves; City with their billions and Premier League title win, United with their star name and Chelsea with the financial backing of owner Roman Abramovich and their recent Champions League win over Bayern Munich. These three were the teams that, as confirmed last week, would be where Hazard’s future lays, with the latter being the team he chose.

In his exit, Lille are to lose one hell of player. Hazard is one that will light up the Premiership for years to come and when, as expected, it was confirmed that he is to join the Champions League holders, their strength in firepower breaking forward is one to rival any team in the world. One man who knows best about him is Andrew Gibney, the chap who runs French Football Weekly and his thoughts on Hazard are unparalleled. All I can tell is that Lille are going to lose a player of immense quality and replacing him, unlike Gervinho and Sow who made up the attacking three that made them so dangerous breaking forward, is going to be an almighty task.

The new stadium

The 4-1 win over Nancy also signalled the end of another era for Lille; it was to be the last game they played at the Stade Lille-Metropole. Since 2004, LOSC have considered 18,000 seater stadium their home and after winning their first championship since 1954 in 2011, the time is right to move to a bigger home to ply their trade.

The Grand Stade Lille Métropole is nearing completion and set to be opened in time for the new season as the club look to reclaim the Ligue 1 crown they lost to Montpellier. At 50,000, the stadium will match the club’s ambitions to become one of France’s biggest teams whilst aiding in attracting possible targets to the club.

Coupled with the Champions League football set to be on show, it will bolster the coffers for Garcia to help improve the squad. With Hazard and Debuchy just two players set to depart over the summer, the Frenchman will have the opportunity to utilise the increase in budget from the sale of the Belgium international, whilst the increase in TV revenue from the Champions League will aid in paying off the new stadium rather than eating into the money that can go towards transfers.

Either way, despite losing Hazard to Chelsea, the future is bright for Lille. Jires Kembo-Ekoko of Rennes has been heavily linked with a move to the club and is believed to be the perfect player for Garcia to mould. The new stadium and the prospect of Champions League football to look forward to is one that will certainly appeal to the fans.

Replacing Hazard may be an uphill challenge, but, as clichéd as it sounds, no player is bigger than the club. In Garcia, Lille have one of the finest managers in France and whilst reshaping his squad to accommodate the lack of the Belgium winger may be difficult, it isn’t impossible. But, bringing in the right player’s will be important for the club this summer if they are to continue the progress they have been making since the 48-year-old took over in 2008.