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Friday, October 22, 2021

Aulas fears losing Depay after Lyon miss out on Champions League following Ligue 1 abandonment

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L’OL will not play in Europe for the first time since 1997 after finishing seventh in the truncated 2019-20 French top flight, and may lose a top star

Memphis Depay could leave Lyon this summer because they have not qualified for European football, according to owner Jean-Michel Aulas.

Lyon have been one of the biggest losers in the decision to abandon the Ligue 1 2019-20 season because of coronavirus, finishing in seventh place and missing out on European qualification for the first time since 1997.

Aulas has been one of the most outspoken critics of the decision to finish the French season early and says the decision could have a major impact on Lyon’s ability to keep their star players, including Netherlands international forward Depay.

“I’m going to do everything to keep the players, but players programmed to play European competitions may want to look elsewhere because we are deprived of the Champions League“, he told Le Progres.

“I have no news for now. Memphis tells me that he is ready to discuss [a new contract] when he returns. His agents say that he rather reflects on a leaving opportunity if we don’t play in Europe.”

Depay scored 14 goals in 18 appearances for Lyon before a serious knee injury in December ended his 2019-20 season early. It had looked set to rule him out of the 2020 European Championships, however the coronavirus pandemic has caused the tournament to be delayed until 2021 and means the Dutchman has the chance to regain fitness.

His contract expires in 2021, meaning Lyon have the added consideration of whether to cash in on the 26-year-old this summer, or persuade him to try and fire them back into the Champions League but lose him on a free next summer.

Aulas meanwhile has continued to try and persuade the French authorities to restart the season, with other European leagues such as the Bundesliga looking to restart in the coming weeks.

“We are on the wrong path, it may not be too late to try to imagine, in the light of what is happening everywhere in Europe, something that is politically coherent: we had until late August and maybe even early September to finish,” the Lyon chief explained to L’Equipe. 

“Until I receive the transcript of the minutes from the board of directors which decided to stop – I haven’t had it since April 30, and it’s strange.”

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