Full transcript (~40k characters, you've been warned) of Juninho's 2 hours interview on RMC (DeepL translated). But it's Juni, so it's always worth it to read and listen to him (don't expect ground breaking transfer news though) (And the audio version, for the french speakers. Juni starts at 15:35 and talks until the end. So more like 70 minutes of interview and not 2 hours, sorry). Special and exceptional guest of Top of the Foot this Tuesday on RMC, the director of OL Juninho delivered as he rarely did. Juninho, how do you see your role in relation to the media?
I left in 2009, there were a lot of expectations, there were doubts. I came back 10 years later, the club has grown a lot, it played a European Cup semi-final in 2010 as well. In the first season, I was a little naive, I was a little bit naive at the beginning, maybe I was talking a little too much. Then I thought about how to behave right away to show the players that I came back. I chose not to talk too much, the first three months Sylvinho came with me, unfortunately we didn't get the results we had hoped for. Changing coaches after 3 months put even more pressure. I chose not to talk too much outside to gain the confidence of the players. Do you totally want to act with your principles and ideas, put your touch ?
We ended the first season with a group that was short of things, 10 days and 30 points to go. Of course we weren't going to finish second and third, it was going to be very hard. In the end it's the coach who decides the team but today I'm back home, I feel at home as before. I get along well with Rudi, it makes things easier. In the end it's the results that count and this year we are not in the Europa League or the Champions League. We start the season with one goal in mind: to qualify for the Champions League next season because that's what the fans are waiting for.
Does your relationship with Rudi Garcia correspond to your expectations about the team's play?
I had a closer relationship with Sylvinho, we came together. We had to choose another coach, we chose together with the president. Rudi has a lot of experience, I felt that he made a lot of effort to settle in as soon as possible. I explained to him at the time that he lacked discipline, which he managed to change. Concerning the game, we never played with 3 defenders, we played in 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, it was a bit like the DNA of the OL. Sometimes you have to take a step back, you have to accept that it doesn't work as well, you try to play with 3 defenders and it gives satisfaction. For me, it's better to play in 3-5-2 to play with 2 forwards than in 4-4-2. Today we're more of a team that leaves the ball to the opponents, tactically well set up to save the season. If I'm looking for a great team that plays in 4-4-2 today, only Atletico comes to mind. Perhaps Atletico Madrid is suffering a little when it comes to confirming, without criticizing Simeone who for me is one of the best coaches. The system that Rudi has found in our team is good, we play 3 behind but it is Maxwell (Cornet) who plays left lane. That is to say that we can change during the game, go to 4-3-3, with the departure of Marçal we have to discuss a little bit about that. But with Marçal for example, if you want to change the 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 during the game, you can make Maxwell pass to the right, Memphis pass to the left and Moussa or Karl pass to the center forward and play with the three midfielders. Today, is it worth changing the system we have to start League 1 in a different way? For me, I would say no. Rudi decides. Maybe with the passing season, with the departures, the arrivals, we'll think about it. But Rudi now has a system in hand, and the players also understand how it works. Marçal is gone, who are you going to put on the left side when it works well with Maxwell? Do you have to pass Jason on the left, do you have to play Marcelo on the right? Are you going to recruit someone in place of Marçal?
For the moment I would say no because we have Joakim (Andersen), Marcelo and Jason (Denayer) and we have Sinaly Diomandé whom you will soon get to know. I believe very much in this young player, to play left and right even if he doesn't have the experience. With Bruno Cheyrou, we've already worked and we have 2-3 names coming up already. If we are able to make the investment, we will do it. Wasn't the decision to fire Sylvinho a bit too fast?
I don't know. There's a lot of pressure in soccer when there are no results. We discussed it together and we thought it was better for the OL. There are times when you have to make decisions so you never know if it's the right one or not. I would say in retrospect that it was the best decision. It took a little more discipline, a little more experience. I thought that with Sylvinho's way of working and his tactical ability, we would be able to put something in place right away, but there was also a locker room that demanded a lot, there were certain moods, you had to explain to the players without being aggressive. That's not how it works, today it's changed a lot. I think Rudi had the experience to do that, he succeeded quickly. We scored 8 points in the first part of the C1 with Sylvinho, normally you don't qualify but it was a very balanced group. Luckily we moved up to second place but in the last match we could finish fourth as first. Sometimes this happens also in C1. I think Sylvinho has the ability to be a good coach but at the time we had to make decisions and I think the best thing was to change. Have you ever thought of leaving OL or doubted because of the remarks of the supporters or the media reception?
Honestly, I'm a human being so I'm afraid. If I say no, that I am brave, I am not afraid, it is not true. We have feelings, desires, dreams and we have weaknesses. I am afraid at times. But it is not fear that will make me stop. Of course it happens when you have doubts, when you ask yourself questions, is it good to continue or not? It happens to everyone, even if some will say no. Do you sometimes tell yourself that it's not for you, that there are too many emotions or too much harshness?
It's not that it's not for me. I think I'm capable, I'm honest, I work, I've played 20 years in football, in the United States, in Asia, in Brazil, in the Champions League, in the World Cup. So I have a background as a player, I've come from very far away, I've known all the levels, the lower levels in Brazil too. But it's human, there are a lot of expectations, the fans can't think, put aside that it's over, I'm no longer a player. Maybe I brought a little bit of luck when I arrived, the fans think that it was my arrival that changed everything. No, it was a long-term job that the president was doing at the OL. Before me they were almost champions too so it's a bit of a coincidence too and I arrived at the right time. It's this waiting that disturbs you a bit, sometimes you wonder. When did you have the most doubts, when Sylvinho is thanked?
I asked myself the question too, you start to get a little scared several times. But there are also happier moments when you say to yourself, 'OK, we've found a plan, it's going to work'. Finally, I think the ideal is to think about it in the medium term, 2-3 years minimum, so that you can analyze what you are doing. When I left, I discovered a club with 50 employees and today there are 500. That's also important. There is also the president's speech, today he is the boss. He wanted to put me on an easier situation and then maybe it was a bit harder. He is always there, I need him, the OL needs the president, all of this makes you ask questions but things that make you say "it's over". I have a family, I have moved, my wife is very happy in Lyon. I also think about my family, I have to fight for them too but it is not my story that will keep my place. After 2-3 years we will all be judged and I hope with good results. What ingredients do you use to challenge yourself and add value knowing that you are dependent on results?
The best thing to do at this time is to talk less, observe things, breathe, take the time, talk one-on-one with the players. Today, I can say that honestly, maybe it's going to be a bit of an exaggeration, but I get along well with all the players, I manage to have personal relationships with all of them. I see them often, not the whole squad and every week. This afternoon I'm going to see Jeff again, we're going to talk, we've already exchanged messages. I have a different relationship with the coach, that's good too. That's how I do it when it's hot, observe things, see how it works, take a step back, talk to Rudi, give my opinion, ask questions, and then let Rudi work quietly. I also have a relationship with the staff. It was a bit more difficult, I arrived there was a staff in place for a long time. Today I get along very well with Gerald Baticle too, Claudio and I have been together for a long time, so we have kept a friendship, it's easier with me. There was the departure of Greg, the arrival of Christophe Revel with whom we already get along very well. All this took a long time and today things are working naturally. The staff knows how I think, I know what the staff needs too but when it's so hot it's better to take a step back, observe things, not let indiscipline bother everyone. I'm pretty open, listening to the players but of course there is a limit to what I can accept. You have often heard you say that some players don't have the high level requirement or a lack of regularity. What can you say about that? Are things changing?
Yes, they have changed quite a bit. The first thing that surprised me was the intensity of training. For me and for all ambitious players, training is already a game. You can't afford to train with 60% intensity and then want to play 100% during the games. When I saw the first training sessions, some players would take hits and stop for two or three minutes. I was a little surprised with that. I figured if you had that intensity in training you weren't going to make it. I was a little surprised. Afterwards, I found that there were no bad guys in the locker room. Most of them were really nice kids. Too nice?
I would say they are nice. But there was a lot of selfishness. That selfishness exists, it's logical to have personal plans but from the moment you are a team what is your goal. In a team you are not necessarily a friend but you have a common goal with OL is to succeed and win. If the moods come before the team you cannot succeed. That's why we were a good irregular team. The training intensity was not ideal, today it's totally different. The intensities are perfect in training. It's embarrassing to talk about it because it doesn't go into my head. If you arrive in Liverpool, Real or City and you train at 60% or 80% of your level on Saturday, without your coach saying anything, you're in the stands. I'm not saying we're being held hostage, but... Yes because the players have a value and it's difficult to put them in the stands...
That's it. That's a little bit of that. Maybe with Rudi Garcia we are able to do certain things but we have to step back and explain, kiss, laugh a little. Is it difficult for you to manage this different generation? Have some players evolved?
Yes, there have been changes. The way I talk is the same as when I talk to everyone. I asked them what they wanted and why we were there. The goal is to get OL as high as possible. If players want to leave, what are the bigger clubs? Apart from the world's top... The OL pays good salaries. When you are young you learn but when you have signed your contract you are able to meet the demand. It is an exchange. The club recognizes the value of the players, and after signing an important contract the player is obliged to give everything on the field. I'm not saying he is obliged to win, nobody is obliged to win. But a player is obliged to prepare himself during the week to give his maximum every time during the weekend. That's what was missing. If in the squad you have three or four players, and important players, who slow down in training, you're going to have a very irregular season. Instead of scoring 25 goals, I prefer the forwards to score 12 or 13 but make defensive efforts, have the attitude, make forward calls to relieve you when the team suffers. If you have guys who are always positive, I think you'll make it through the season. Focusing on personal stats is going to be good for them, it's even going to fool the press analysis. I'm not here to be mean, to take money away from them or give them a smaller contract. Or ask them to leave. If we are all here, it is to have the same goal. Is there a mental or technical problem in your opinion?
It's not necessarily a lack of desire. I would rather say it's the lack of responsibility for the high level. It's a lack of ambition. It's not understanding what your profession is. It goes by too fast. For me, the thing that gave me the most pleasure was playing soccer. Until today, I have never found the same pleasure. Soccer is a profession that passes quickly. Sometimes you don't get a second or third opportunity. That was more the problem. When you don't have enough leaders in your squad, it's maybe even harder. That's why I spoke openly with you journalists and with the players. Did the C1 run make you want to build a more defensive team with a transitional game rather than a possession-based playstyle ?
The truth is that it took humility to accept that we could play against better teams. We played Juve and if we passed we had Manchester City and then Bayern. Why not accept that they were a bit stronger and that we had to adapt to these teams. But now League 1 is starting again and we will have the possibility to have more possession. We will never forget that the most important thing is the ball. If we have the ball, we have more opportunity to score. Naturally, we have a technical team and we are able to keep the ball. But during the Champions League, I would say it was an adaptation. Maybe it was also a change in the mentality of the team. The players proved that this was the best way. We often talk about tactics or a club's DNA... The truth is that soccer has changed in fifteen or twenty years. I started my career in 1993 or 1994 when Brazil won its fourth World Cup. Most of the teams were playing 4-4-2 with two midfielders who were only playing 4-4-2. Afterwards, with the evolution, the players went faster and there were fewer spaces so we moved back the number 10's like Luka Modric or Toni Kroos. They are ten but they are slower players in a faster soccer so we moved them back a notch so that they could see the game in front of the game and have a better possession. Since 2013 or 2014, there are other changes. Why do we have goalies like now? Guardiola did that first. Before, when we gave the ball to the goalkeeper, he would close his eyes and release it right away. Nowadays, to have possession, you have to be able to get out of the dry cleaners. Now you give the ball to the goalkeeper and he clears it away and you have a chance to play but it's dangerous because it's close to your goal. Today when you come out from behind you have to have a goalie who has the courage to play. The coach has to tell him that it's not his fault if he misses. In Lyon, Anthony Lopes has already made a lot of progress in this respect. The defenders are going to play too. Today when you attack and you lose the ball, you shouldn't be in a state of mind. It's right away, the one who lost and the two or three players next to him must try to get the ball back immediately. Otherwise you have to rebuild from behind each time. It's something you don't do because it's hard to do. If you are a second late or a partner doesn't recover, your opponent gains confidence and you are forced to run 60 meters behind. Today, it's still not ideal. We need to do more about that. Another important thing is on the stopped balls and we are weak on that. It's not only a problem of the shooter but also the synchronization with the players in the surface and the desire to win the duels. This sector proves that we are too nice because we have to have the desire to win the duels to score. Will Memphis Depay go to Barça?
We haven't officially received anything for Memphis. So far we haven't received a proposal for Memphis. Before his cruciate ligament injury, President Jean-Michel Aulas made a lot of effort and made him a proposal to extend his stay. But we have respected Memphis' wishes, who said "I have a headache, I want to concentrate on my recovery, I want to play the Euro". There was no Covid yet, so those were his plans. We respected, we chose to wait a little before seeing. But you know how soccer is and when a 26-year-old player is at the end of his contract and there is a club like Barça behind it, one of the biggest teams in the world, it makes a player dream. I would say that today, Memphis Depay is in a strong position because he is at the end of his contract. If a proposal arrives from Barcelona, we will have to think about it. But today we're also able to keep Memphis sporty and use him until the end of the season before losing him free because he won't want to prolong it. This is what is in the balance now. Do we keep Memphis until the end of the season and he helps us as the captain and the talented player that he is? He brings us to the best possible position in the championship. Or do we accept a transfer and take the money to make other investments? These are the questions we ask ourselves but we don't have the 100% answer. There is no chance that it will be extended?
For us there is the interest to extend it. The president is capable of making the effort. But what I sense from Memphis is that it's going to be difficult. That's my feeling after talking with him. Has Memphis Depay asked to open the door or to negotiate a departure to Barça?
He hasn't asked for anything. Before he left for the national team, I asked him about Barça. I asked if he had received any calls, he said no. He said no, no calls. But well...it speaks. Koeman is the coach so maybe it's going to happen. We don't know. It's not easy. It's not Barça's question because the president is ready to face it and that reassures us a little bit. But hey...of course the player is in a position of strength. Have you made any progress on the departures of Aouar and Dembélé?
We haven't received anything officially. They are players from whom we have received calls but no official offer. They are very valuable players. Houssem knows the house well, he's been with us for a long time, we saw at the Final 8 what he was able to do when he's really focused on the game. I wouldn't say the door is open, but we risk losing Houssem and Moussa of course. But for sure we're not going to lose all three at the same time. We already have files behind us, I'm open to explain everything in the best possible way. I'm not going to give names behind, we have players of the same level or maybe who are more ambitious to continue at home.
We have 28 players today to play in League 1 and it's not easy to manage all that. We play next Friday in Bordeaux, we have the match on Tuesday in Montpellier, we receive Nimes on Friday. We're going to have three games in one week, so Rudi will rotate the squad. From the moment you play one match per weekend for 38 days, you'll have a typical team. We need others to make the difference, we have 5 changes, but we need a state of mind, players who are there for that. But 28 players is too many. So they won't be replaced?
Some won't. Marçal is gone but we have Joakim (Andersen), Jason (Denayer), Marcelo and Sinaly (Diomandé). There is Cenk (Ozkacar) which is a project that Bruno Cheyrou presented to us. We don't know if we'll keep it but it's a player with a future. There is Leo Dubois on the right side, Rafael and Tete (Rafael left the club this Tuesday afternoon). On the other side, we have Youssouf Koné, Melvin Bard and Maxwell who gives satisfaction. The middle is Bruno, Thiago, Jean Lucas who didn't have much opportunity but Rudi believes in him. There is Maxence who is a very important player, Jeff despite all his problems last year, we believe in his talent. We must not forget that we recruited Tino Kadewere, we believe in him a lot and we have Moussa in front, there is Karl, Rayan. I don't think that's going to happen (to lose the 3 players). But if it happens, we will replace them. If there is only one start or two, we don't know yet. An offer from Arsenal with Guendouzi for Aouar?
I get along very well with the sports director. We spoke on the phone. He is really appreciated by Arteta. There have been some discussions for Matteo who is also a good player. He was mentioned during the discussion. But it's not the profile we need, we were very clear. If it's like that, we're not interested in it at all, that's what we stopped.
After that, I called his agent, we talked, I called Vincent Ponsot too, I explained everything. That's where it stopped. I also called Houssem's brother with whom I get along well. I called them both to explain my exchange.
Houssem is younger than Memphis, he's from the house, his entourage knows all about Olympique Lyonnais. I get along very well with his brother Brahim. With his agent they told me 'we leave him alone, he's still young', we don't talk too much with him about that, I help him with his game like Rudi and the staff do. For the transfer you speak with us directly. With Houssem, I talked very little about leaving.
Marçal was at the end of his contract, he came to see me, he came to see the coach. He told me 'Juni, it's an opportunity, I'm not going to extend my contract because you didn't offer to extend it, it's an opportunity for me'. Finally we discussed with the president and we reached an agreement.
(Houssem) He has a very important contract with us, we have to think about that. It's not the OL of 20 years ago, today the club has the capacity to make good contracts, it's one of the best contracts in the club. It is respectful towards the institution also because this is where it started. It is intelligent, it is rather easy to settle. But maybe in a couple of weeks, I'll tell you differently with the deal coming to an end, maybe he's going to have his head spinning. My concern with him is that he's keeping his mind set for the games that are coming up, that's the most important thing. He's got Covid, he's going to start again in 12 days with the squad because of the quarantine. There is an interest from Manchester City and the PSG?
I think it went directly to the agents. We haven't been contacted directly. Maybe Vincent Ponsot was contacted with Manchester City, I'm not sure. It's like that with these two teams, they are two huge teams that play to win the C1 every year, they have the capacity for that and that makes every player dream. I don't know if Houssem is ready to change his plans for a big League 1 team like PSG; for City, of course Guardiola likes the player but is this the profile they are looking for today? We don't know either and we haven't received an official offer. What about Moussa Dembélé?
Moussa is young, he still has room for improvement, he has an enormous physical capacity. He's someone who is really attracted to goals, he's capable of scoring a lot of goals but he sometimes lacks a little bit of concentration. We will have to improve at this level, he dreams of making the national team. He has been pre-selected several times, I think he will make it, with Giroud it's a possibility for Didier Deschamps. He's a forward in the profession, he's easy to manage so far. For me, it's interesting from a sporting point of view that he stays with us, that he continues to progress, that he puts himself at the disposal of the staff, without a ball a little more than what he used to do before because he's capable of doing it. If he progresses, perhaps his value will be greater than it is now. Can we imagine a return of Umtiti?
That's not our level of contract. Most of these players... In January, I called Alexandre Lacazette to discuss a little bit with him because he had some problems with Arsenal and I said: 'Why not a six-month loan with us where you will have fun, play every game and score goals like you know how to do? And then you go back to Arsenal or somewhere else. But from the moment you look at the contract level of these players, like at Juventus or Barça, it's not for us today. Today, we have to tell the truth, we can't pay the salary of an Umtiti. But if the player is looking for a project, if he makes an effort with perhaps a longer contract, if he wants to go home, then I'll go and look for him right away. Can he be receptive to that? Have you presented this project to him?
We haven't gotten that far. Have you tried Thiago Silva?
I dreamed. (Laughs.) I tried to reach him several times. I talked a little bit with his agent at first but I understood right away that it was impossible. For me, Thiago Silva is still one of the best defenders in the world, we saw it with the final he made, and I dreamed about these players. I could tell him: 'Play 22 games, stay with us for two years and then maybe we can find something for you here to start a new life'. I thought about it and I talked to President Aulas about it and told him that maybe such a project could be interesting for him because he is passionate about soccer. But it was not possible for us. The supporters sometimes think that we don't do things but we tried because I thought it could really do us good. What is the situation with Jeff Reine-Adélaïde after his interview where he complained?
First of all, it was a surprise for us because we had never discussed these things with him before. If we thought that Houssem could leave and we had Jeff in our squad who wasn't playing with his crusader injury, you don't need to go looking for someone else. You have Maxence Caqueret who can also take over from Houssem and become a more offensive player than what he is for the moment, what he is capable of being. So it wasn't planned and we were surprised. But when things like that happen, you have to breathe, you have to analyze things. I spoke with his brother again yesterday and I think it was an incredible lack of experience. You can talk and say you're not happy, it happened to us when we were gamblers, but that's the way to talk... You can criticize something at a time but you can't touch the institution. You can criticize something at one moment but you can't touch the institution. From the moment you criticize the institution, more important things happen behind it, with the supporters who are not happy and put even more pressure on you. Jeff is not a bad person, not at all, and I had a very good relationship with him. We exchanged messages this morning and we'll see each other this afternoon. I think it's easy to work it out. He himself knows that he went a bit far, that he was angry because Houssem was not ready to play against Dijon, he thought it would be him but Rudi decided to play in 3-4-3, to change a bit to play with three forwards. Just needed a little more patience. Sometimes, especially nowadays, players think that being a substitute in two or three games is a bit humiliating, as if you lose a bit of your value. But that's really not it. Mentalities are changing, young people see themselves as better than those around them...
That's just it. That's exactly what it's all about. You have to be calm, you have to know how to choose the right words to speak. As I say, and it's true, it doesn't bother me. I've already said this: if you don't want to say hello, that's fine, but never forget that we both have the same goal, which is to win in the end. We have the same goal. Even if we don't get along very well together, from the moment you put on the jersey and go out on the field, you forget everything and you give everything for the club. Especially after having spent a lot of money on him and having given him a substantial salary .
That's it. I spoke with his brother about that. Why would we invest 25 million on a player and not believe in him? It doesn't make sense. The objective is that he stays? We saw an interest from Rennes...
Yes. It can happen. From the moment a player says he wants to leave, I'm honest, there are calls, even if there hasn't been a concrete proposal. But his departure is not planned. He is under contract. He's been here for a year, but how many months has he been playing with us after all? Four months. Then he had his injury and the Covid. Now he's coming back. It wasn't planned. I don't want to advance myself 100%, not to be accused of lying afterwards, but letting him go is not in our heads. We feel anxiety among the supporters who hear about many departures but no arrivals. Are there going to be arrivals and how many?
It's not about arrivals because when you say you want to buy a player, other clubs come behind and the price goes up. Of course we already have files, I wouldn't say advanced but...
*Like Facundo Pellistri, the Uruguayan prospect? *
Him, I can talk about it because it's already too much out there. I like this player, I like his profile because he's 18 years old, he's a young Uruguayan with a European passport, which means he doesn't take a place as a non-EU player. I also like the state of mind of Uruguayans and I'm looking for profiles like that. He's a corridor player but also works defensively, he already has experience because being a regular at Penarol at 18 is not easy. I've played there several times and it's a very violent championship. And at 18, he's a great player. But it's not an easy case because there are a lot of clubs behind it. Penarol doesn't give up easily. Instead, they're looking for a partner who will sell the player. Maybe we're in a strong position because it's more interesting to sell to a club like us, where the player has the possibility to be sold afterwards, whereas if he goes directly to a club like City or United... In fact, Diego Forlan was the coach before, and since he played at United, there were apparently discussions with Manchester. In any case, it's a profile that I like very much, yes, even if today we have a lot of players in this position, including Rayan Cherki, but it's a bit like the DNA of the OL to invest in young people like him. We continue to talk about him but we don't know if it will happen. OL sold Gouiri to Nice, Kalulu too, and OL is looking for a central defender and an offensive player. Do you regret it? Do you understand the regrets of the Lyon fans?
There are no regrets now, but maybe in a year's time we will have some. These are two different issues. Amine was compared to the new Benzema and we believed in him because of his talent. But he got his injury at the crusaders and it took a little time for him to recover his place. Afterwards, in the big teams, there is always a lot of competition in attack. There was a lot for him and he didn't have a lot of playing time so we thought about lending him out. A lot of clubs were in the ranks. We thought he would be able to play, show what he can do and then come back to us and win. That was our idea. But Amine was a little disappointed, a little vengeful, and he told us: 'I don't want to be loaned out, you transfer me for good or I won't leave'. We were in a bit of trouble and we didn't want to hurt the player, who grew up with us. You have to have respect too. The fans sometimes saw him playing with the reserves and scoring two or three goals, but you can't compare him with the pros, even though he started the season well. In any case, he has everything he needs to have a great career. People don't necessarily understand, we often talk about a player's lack of respect towards a club but not enough about the opposite, there the respect is mutual...
That's what it's all about. Amine is a little shy but we talked several times. He's a very nice person, polite, and he said he didn't want to be lent. That put us in a bit of trouble and after the Covid, Nice arrived and made a proposal. We knew that the supporters were not going to be happy with this decision to let him go but we are also there, unfortunately for some, to make decisions. Did we take the right one or the wrong one? We'll know in a few years from now how he's progressing. And I hope that we will say yes. Because if we say that we took the wrong decision, it is because Amine will have succeeded and that is what I wish him. For Pierre, I assume that maybe it was a mistake on our part. Maybe we took too long to sign his first contract. We had to sign Pierre at the same time as we signed Melvin Bard or Maxence Caqueret, they were a bit of the same generation, but for Pierre there were discussions between the reserve coaches and us to find out what his position really was. In the end, I had a doubt about defence, also because he was too nice. A defenceman who is too nice, either you're Thiago Silva or you're not going to play. It's not going to work unless you're huge like Thiago Silva or Marquinhos, even if Marquinhos is not a nice guy like Thiago. (Laughs.) Afterwards, we said to ourselves: 'Maybe Rafael and Kenny Tete will leave because they are in their last year of contract, so we have the solution: Kalulu replacing Léo Dubois in the position of right-back'. We called his daddy, I talked a lot with him, Tony Parker intervened, the president too, and we made a better proposal than Milan but once again, the player was spiteful. It's the young people. Because we didn't value him enough, he didn't want to step back and say he wanted to stay. We tried a lot but he decided to go to Milan, which is a very great team. But I don't know if it was the right decision for him. Will Lyon continue to train quality young people so that it can continue to prosper economically, since the salaries of the big players are unattainable?
We have to, yes. That's one of the first things the president told me. I know that it is also what made the club grow. But it's impossible to bring out two or three regular players to your club every year. There are two stages in a career, that's what I tell the young people I have the opportunity to talk to. The first is to succeed in signing your first pro contract and make it to the first team. And some of them stop there after that. The second step is the hardest one, which is to settle down with the pros, to be a really important player in a team that you're on as a pro. That's the hardest step because there's pressure all around. The fans judge you differently when you're with the youngsters than when you're with the pros. The same goes for the media. Some of them are very strong with the youngsters but they can't do it with the pros. Others are not so good with the youngsters but manage to play with the pros. There are no rules or anything you have to do to make sure you can train the kids well. In our country, we always have to think about training young people. We need that and that's what our supporters are asking for, so we're going to continue to do it. Now, there is another generation coming up behind us. It's hard to name names because sometimes you forget one and it will affect a little one who will not be motivated afterwards. But we will always think about that, of course. If Léo, Rafael and Kenny leave, we will see if we have options at home, because we know we already have some. We're always going to think about that and invest in it. There's Maxence who's starting today, Melvin and Rayan who played . Do you have the idea of bringing Benzema back with a project in the coming years?
It's our dream to see Karim finish with us. Today, he is still very successful. It's interesting, even for him, if he agrees to come back, not to really reach the descending phase, but I think he's someone who pays a lot of attention to him physically and who has important physical capacities. It's everyone's dream here to see him come back to us to do maybe two seasons, play the Champions League with us, score goals, help us get good results, be a leader, wear the armband, bring all his experience with his four wins in C1, of which he is one of the top scorers. Are we going to succeed or not? I don't know. Of course, we'll have to make an effort because we can't pay the salary he earns at Real Madrid. We are waiting for the right moment. We played together, I met him when he came to the pros at the age of 17, we got along very well unlike what people thought at the time and I think I helped him a lot with the discussions we had at the time. He's someone with incredible talent. With his whole history, it's a dream for us. Do you have a career plan for the position of sporting director, like a player can do?
That's a good question. My daughter asked me last night if I would see myself afterwards in another city. My plan, honestly, is to spend a minimum of five years here and succeed in helping the club to have good results, to get more young people out and to have a team where many of them play, but especially to be able to play several seasons in the Champions League and dream of being able to win a trophy. Today, the closest one, even if it is difficult, is the French Cup. This year, and the players know about it, the goal is to come back to C1, so you have to finish in the first three. You're arguing this with Lille, Rennes, Nice, Marseille or Monaco, opponents who are also capable of finishing in the top three even if I leave Paris aside. The goal is this: to help the club to continue to grow and to be able to do a job in the medium and long term. Maybe it won't last long, but I also hope that it may last longer. The goal is to settle down for the long term.