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Winter transfer market remains flat in France on last day

February 2, 2015

PARIS (AP) — Marseille strengthened its attacking options by finalizing the loan of Monaco winger Lucas Ocampos on the final day of Europe’s winter transfer window, which closed on Monday without any major signing in France.

Even big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, whose ambitions are slowed by Financial Fair Play sanctions, did not invest a single euro on new players after selling midfielder Clement Chantome to Bordeaux for a reported fee of 750,000 euros ($851,000).

Marseille, which is locked in a three-way battle for the French title with Lyon and PSG, said it has an option to buy Ocampos but did not reveal the financial terms of the deal.

French league leader Lyon, which has been relying on its reservoir of homegrown players to climb to the top of the standings this season, made a long-term investment with the purchase of up-and-coming Metz forward Maxwel Cornet. The 18-year-old striker signed a four-and-a-half year deal worth 200,000 euros ($230,000), plus a percentage of any future transfer fees.

After investing more than 400 million euros ($474 million) in its future stadium, Lyon’s main task was to retain striker Alexandre Lacazette, the league’s top scorer with 21 goals. The France forward’s strong performances have prompted interest from big European clubs such as Manchester City and Arsenal, but Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas convinced him to stay at least until the end of the current term.

“Selling our best players, who could help us play the Champions League in this stadium, would be the negation of our strategy,” Aulas said.

With French clubs struggling to attract the biggest names and putting the brakes on their spendings, the arrival of Hatem Ben Arfa at Nice grabbed the spotlight. But the former France midfielder’s stay in France might already be over because of FIFA’s transfer rules preventing him from playing.

Ben Arfa joined the southern club last month, but FIFA and French football authorities refused to give him clearance to play before the next season because a player cannot appear for more than two clubs in the same campaign. The 27-year-old Ben Arfa played for Newcastle in an under-21 match in August last year before moving to Hull on loan.

After a French court confirmed the French league’s decision Monday, Ben Arfa’s lawyer Jean-Jacques Bertrand told TV channel Infosport Plus that his client would not stay on the Riviera and was even thinking about ending his career.

“He is obviously very affected, he fought during a month and everything is coming to an end today,” Bertrand said.

Monaco, who let its star players Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez leave during the 2014 summer window in a dramatic change of development strategy, signed 20-year-old Bernardo Silva, who had spent the past six months on loan at the club.

Facing a UEFA probe for overspending on player transfers and wages as part of the Financial Fair Play, Monqco also secured the arrival on loan of Brazilian striker Matheus Carvalho from Atletico Barra da Tijuc and offloaded defender Borja Lopez on loan to Deportivo La Coruna.

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