Former Lyon manager Rudi Garcia has said he was close to being appointed manager of Manchester United earlier this season.

The Red Devils eventually opted to hire Ralf Rangnick as interim manager in November following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The club is expected to hire another permanent manager at the end of the season, which will end without a trophy after they were knocked out of the Champions League round of 16 by Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, losing the second leg 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Garcia has managed several clubs throughout his career, including Lille, Roma and Marseille, but the French coach has been out of work since leaving Lyon at the end of last season.

Speaking to Le Figaro, Garcia revealed he had offers from several clubs across Europe, but United was the closest he came to being appointed.

"I had several offers, in England, Spain and France, but the most advanced, and which almost went as far as the end, was with Manchester United," he said.

"I saw John Murtough (United's director of football) and Darren Fletcher (technical director). I told them that I had to work on my English and Darren, who is Scottish, had a joke telling me that I didn't have the level yet with the Scottish accent to answer, but that was fine."

The club's form has been up and down since Rangnick arrived, and they currently find themselves one point off the top four in the Premier League, but having played three games more than fourth-placed Arsenal, and have been knocked out of both the FA Cup and the Champions League.

Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag have both been strongly linked with the permanent job at Old Trafford at the end of the campaign, though both were also knocked out of the Champions League at the round of 16 stage, with Paris Saint-Germain losing to Real Madrid and Ajax being eliminated by Benfica.

Garcia has said he would like to return to management soon and is not putting too many limits on where he is willing to work.

"I would like to find a club that plays in the Champions League or has the capacity to qualify for it," he added "I have a preference for England or Spain, but I'm not saying no to Germany, France or Italy.

"If it is, you will find me in an exotic country in a few months, because I won't have found anything that lived up to my expectations. But today, I want to find a club again next season, because after almost twelve months off, I'm itching."

Mauricio Pochettino remains Manchester United's top target, according to reports.

It may be some time before the Paris Saint-Germain boss ends up at Old Trafford, though. 

United appear set to finish this season with an interim manager before making a permanent move for the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's long-term successor.
 

TOP STORY – UNITED FOCUSED ON INTERIM MANAGER OPTIONS

All indications are that Mauricio Pochettino will end up at Manchester United eventually, but it could take several months.

The Daily Star reports Pochettino will have to wait six months – through to the end of this season – before jumping from Paris Saint-Germain to Old Trafford.

The report says United have not made any official overtures to PSG and are focused on finding an interim boss instead, with hopes of appointing one by mid-December.

Julen Lopetegui and Ernesto Valverde are among the candidates for that role, claims the Daily Star, while the Mirror says Ralf Rangnick, Paulo Fonseca, Lucien Favre and Rudi Garcia also are in the mix, along with caretaker manager Michael Carrick.

ROUND-UP

- United and Newcastle are the top contenders to sign Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid, according to The Sun.

- Liverpool and Barcelona are eyeing a move for Christian Pulisic, reports El Nacional, but Chelsea's €50million price tag would be too much for Barca and the Blues prefer not to sell the USA international to another Premier League club.

- Chelsea are interested in adding defender Attila Szalai from Fenerbahce, says Football Insider.

- Adama Traore could be on the move in January as Wolves are prepared to listen to offers for the 25-year-old, Football Insider reports.

Peter Bosz has vowed to bring "attacking and attractive football" to Lyon after signing a two-year deal to become the Ligue 1 club's head coach.

The former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund boss was most recently with Bayer Leverkusen and replaces Rudi Garcia at the Lyon helm.

He takes over a club that finished fourth last season, just missing out on Champions League qualification, and the 57-year-old is eager to make his mark at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

"I am very happy to be here, in a great club," he said at a news conference on Sunday, with his appointment having been confirmed the day before.

"I have a philosophy: to produce attacking and attractive football, because we play for the supporters, not for ourselves. But obviously, it depends on the players in the squad. I prefer technical and intelligent players."

Bosz leant heavily on youth talent at Ajax, where he reached the Europa League final in 2017, and would not hesitate to take a similar approach in his new role, which will formally begin on July 1.

"At Ajax, like at Lyon now, it was important to play the youngsters," he said. "But it does not just depend on the age: I am not scared to give young players a chance and to put faith in them. They have the qualities. At Leverkusen for example, I gave Florian Wirtz a chance when he was just 16.

"In the Netherlands, it was said that the team started seasons slowly and finished strongly. In Germany, I was told that the team started strongly and finished slowly. What I want, in France, is to start and finish strongly.

"I am heading back for two more weeks of holiday, but I will of course remain in contact with Juninho to talk about the players, pre-season, the way of working. I will be thinking a lot about Lyon."

Bosz was sacked by Leverkusen in March and replaced on an interim basis by former Stuttgart boss Hannes Wolf, having endured a run of four wins in 18 matches in all competitions.

Peter Bosz has signed a two-year deal to become Lyon's new head coach after the departure of Rudi Garcia.

Former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund coach Bosz was most recently with Bayer Leverkusen and will take the reins at Lyon on July 1.

The 57-year-old fills the void left following Garcia's decision to leave the Ligue 1 club this month, having guided them to fourth spot this season.

Bosz led Ajax to the Europa League final in 2017, beating his new employers in the semi-final, before a brief and disappointing spell with BVB.

He was sacked by Leverkusen in March and replaced on an interim basis by former Stuttgart boss Hannes Wolf, having endured a run of four wins in 18 matches in all competitions.

Lyon lost to Nice on the final day of the French season to miss out on Champions League qualification.

The club confirmed the appointment on their website, adding that club president Jean-Michel Aulas, football general manager Vincent Ponsot and sporting director Juninho would join Bosz in a news conference on Sunday.

Lyon said the quartet would "clarify the new parameters of the team's technical organisation and explain what they will expect from the entire first team, as this commencement of a new cycle will give an added dimension to Olympique Lyonnais' ambitious project, both domestically and in the Europa League".

Lyon sporting director Juninho slammed departing Barcelona-linked star Memphis Depay for wanting the Ligue 1 side to revolve around him like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Depay will leave Lyon on a free transfer this off-season and LaLiga giants Barca – led by former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman – have been tipped to sign the Dutch forward.

The 27-year-old Depay, who arrived from Manchester United in 2017, was involved in 32 goals in Ligue 1 this season (20 goals and 12 assists) – equalling his best tally in a single campaign with the French side (19 goals and 13 assists in 2017-18).

Only Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe scored more Ligue 1 goals (27) than Depay in 2020-21, but Juninho had strong words for the outgoing Lyon captain.

"Memphis Depay just wanted a team for himself," Juninho told OLTV. "It's not a criticism, I had a good relationship with him.

"But on the other hand, the whole team had to revolve around him and that is very hard. Everyone should feel like they're working the same.

"There are only four players in the world where you have to do everything for them: Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Mbappe. If you have one of them, then the team can revolve around them.

"Sorry, I think that Depay is strong, but he's not at their level. And I think that he has to work harder without the ball."

Juninho also responded to departing head coach Rudi Garcia's stunning criticism.

In an interview with L'Equipe, Garcia said: "I was badly welcomed by certain people but I thought that after the cups and being top of the table at the half-way point, things would change.

"There are some fiery minorities but in the city the messages I received were truly nice. I also have the satisfaction of having the second team in France in terms of most playing time for young players. That was one of the objectives, to give chances to and favour those who have a market value but also to play the Brazilian recruits and after a while, there is the squaring of the circle…

"…he [Gerard Houllier, who died in December] was critical in the balance of the club. He knew how to grease up the wheels. It was he who could explain the role of Sporting Director to Juninho who lacked the experience. It is essential in a club that all the people are behind each other as we saw in Lille. Here there was too much dissonance in my relationship with Juni.

"Things went well initially. Things started to go wrong without me noticing. After two or three victories in November, the sporting director no longer came to congratulate me. I found that when the Brazilian recruits weren't playing, he wasn't happy. He would have preferred to win with his players.

"He invests himself a lot, and that is a quality, but I certainly think that he must have promised them that they would start. We spoke about it, he told me that if it had to be done again, he would not push on these things. But it slowed down the emergence of certain young players like [Maxence] Caqueret in particular. Juni's opinion was that Jean Lucas was better. The problem must have come from there initially. And things quickly deteriorated."

In reply as Lyon try to replace Garcia, Juninho said: "I was surprised. I knew he was going to do something like this because that's his character. He chose an experienced journalist and the statement looks like it was prepared a long time ago. It's a long interview, but I don't feel like I'm being betrayed. We are betrayed by friends, and we worked together as professionals.

"One of the problems I had with Rudi was the different ways he treated players in the locker room. He was strong with the weak, and weak with the strong. It was creating problems in the locker room and the players came to see me. Rudi Garcia wanted to loan out Jean Lucas because he didn't play him, we didn't necessarily agree on that. He was complaining that he wasn't progressing tactically, and I thought maybe it was his fault. He took some things personally but the player had nothing to do with it. Eventually he was loaned out, maybe I insisted too much but I have the right to ask questions.

"I think he has a lack of self-confidence. It also bothered him, my way of behaving with the players and the rest of the staff. During the transfer window, it's true I didn't let him choose the players. But that's my role, I made my choices. [Lucas] Paqueta, for example, I made the effort to bring him in. He wasn't necessarily used to this; he likes to impose his choices and that is understandable. But I have defended Rudi on several occasions, it was not necessarily easy but he was doing a good job."

Neymar's injury is "a real hard blow" to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the Champions League resuming, Lyon coach Rudi Garcia said.

The Brazil forward was ruled out for up to four weeks after suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France clash with Caen on Wednesday.

Neymar will miss Tuesday's trip to Camp Nou to face his former club Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, while he is also in doubt for the return clash.

Garcia, whose team are second in the Ligue 1 table ahead of PSG by a point, said the injury was a major setback for Mauricio Pochettino's men.

"It would be good if the two French teams could represent us with dignity and go as far as possible in the European Cup. It's a real hard blow," Garcia told a news conference on Friday.

"I've always said, the greatest players we want to see on the pitch rather than in the infirmary. It is a great pity that Neymar was injured.

"Nevertheless, PSG are not lacking substitutes."

PSG were runners-up in the Champions League last season, while Lyon reached the semi-finals.

In what is a tight top part of the Ligue 1 table, Lille (54) are two points clear of Lyon (52) and ahead of PSG (51) and Monaco (48).

Only PSG star Kylian Mbappe (22) has been directly involved in more goals than Lyon captain Memphis Depay (19) in Ligue 1 this season.

Garcia, whose team host Montpellier on Saturday, praised Depay and while he said Lyon were in a strong position, his target remains a top-three finish.

"He sets an example as a captain whether on the pitch or in the changing rooms. Memphis Depay and Lyon have the same goal – that the club be in the top three and qualify for the Champions League," he said.

"If the situation allows us to finish in a better position than third or second place, we will talk about it again. But for the moment it's like that, I'm not going to repeat myself."

Ronald Koeman has hit back at Rudi Garcia after the Lyon head coach accused his Barcelona counterpart of being a hypocrite.

Barca boss Koeman last week admitted to being unhappy with "disrespectful" Paris Saint-Germain after a number of their players and staff members discussed transfer links with Lionel Messi.

However, speaking to beIN SPORTS at the weekend, Garcia pointed out that Koeman publicly stated earlier this season that he wants to bring Memphis Depay to Camp Nou once his Lyon contract expires at the end of the season.

"I read that Koeman was a bit offended that PSG talked about Leo Messi before the Champions League match between PSG and Barcelona," Garcia said. 

"He was not shy about talking about Memphis Depay even after the transfer market. It is called the water sprinkler and the sprinkler has been sprinkled."

Koeman, who is preparing his side for Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final first leg with Sevilla, responded to Garcia's comments at a news conference on Tuesday.

"The Lyon coach likes to speak to the press a lot. For me he is not an important man," the former Netherlands boss said.

"For me I just have to prepare for the next games and then we will see."

Messi is into the final four months of his Barcelona contract and has been strongly linked with a high-profile switch to PSG at the end of the season.

Speculation over Messi's future rumbles on, as does the discussion over whether the six-time Ballon d'Or winner can be considered the greatest sportsman of all time.

The debate reopened on Sunday after Tom Brady won his seventh NFL championship ring by helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Asked where Messi ranks on the list of the world's all-time great athletes, Koeman said: "It is always difficult because there are different periods to consider.

"But what Messi has done is something incredible - the number of goals and titles with Barca. I did not see the Super Bowl but Messi is the best in the world at what he does.

"It is difficult to compare him with [Johan] Cruyff and Pele, but what I have seen of Messi is something special."

Messi is expected to return to Koeman's starting line-up for the trip to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, with Barcelona aiming to extend their six-game winning run in all competitions.

Koeman has a tough selection call to make at the other end of the field, however, as Ronald Araujo has joined fellow centre-back Gerard Pique and right-back Sergino Dest on the sidelines.

Frenkie de Jong filled in alongside Clement Lenglet after Araujo limped off in the 3-2 win over Real Betis, but Koeman is still undecided on who will start at the back against Sevilla.


"It is true that if we put Frenkie as a centre-back then we are missing something in the centre of the pitch," he said. 

"If we can choose a recognised centre-back, it is better to play with him there. Without Frenkie in the middle, we lose something."

Oscar Mingueza can potentially shift into the middle, though that leaves a gap at right-back, while Samuel Umtiti is also in the squad but has struggled for fitness.

"Oscar is with us and he has improved a lot," Koeman said. "He has taken the opportunity to be with us. He knows how to play in different positions and has grown thanks to the help of his team-mates. 

"I have no fear of putting a young man into the side. He has taken the opportunity with both hands. You must improve when you have to press. He has room for improvement, but he is doing things very well.

"As for Samuel, physically he is fine at the moment. He's on the squad list and we have the option to play him. If not, we would not name him in the squad. 

"With his history, we are always aware of his physical condition. We are still thinking about his condition but in the many games he has played he has shown his quality."

Barca are in good form but Sevilla are on an even better run, winning each of their last seven matches in all competitions ahead of Wednesday's first leg.

"They have a good team, are very organised and have good individual quality," Koeman said. "That is why they are up there.

"We will have to be good with the ball because they are going to put pressure on us. But if we are at our top level, we can hurt even a team like Sevilla."

Rudi Garcia says it is vital Lyon replace Moussa Dembele if the striker joins Atletico Madrid.

LaLiga leaders Atleti are reportedly closing in on signing Dembele on loan for the rest of the season following Diego Costa's departure.

The former Celtic frontman scored 24 goals last season but has found the back of the net just once in the current Ligue 1 campaign and is currently sidelined after suffering a broken arm last month.

Lyon head coach Garcia does not want the 24-year-old to leave the Ligue 1 club, but expects to be given the green light to go into the transfer market if he does move to the Spanish capital.

Garcia said: "He is an important player. We prefer to keep him, but we would need to replace players who leave, Moussa included if that is the case. It is logical."

Although Dembele was expected to be out until February, Garcia says he may be cleared to return earlier.

"Usually the type of injury he had means he could not play for six weeks. I think it was on the 22nd of December before we played Nantes [when he suffered the injury], so there is still time," he said.

"It is always all about what the doctor says and also the surgeon who performed surgery on him. Let's see if it could be less. We will see how Moussa reacts."

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