Bernat Armangue/Associated Press
Coach: Sylvain Ripoll.
Another new coach, Lorient’s Sylvain Ripoll has replaced Christian Gourcuff, who took over Algeria after 11 years at the helm. The wily 59-year-old has enjoyed three different spells with Les Merlus, but opted to leave the club at the end of last season. Ripoll, his long time assistant, is now in charge and will hope to pick up where his mentor left off.
Last Season: 8th in Ligue 1.
Aside from a seventh-place finish in the 2009/10 season, the last two terms—both producing eighth-place finishes—rank as two of Lorient’s best-ever seasons in Ligue 1. For Gourcuff, the man responsible for all three of those excellent showings, he did not feel confident of being able to repeat the trick again this coming term. Considering the club’s frustrating habit of selling its best talents too early, Gourcuff's decision is perhaps understandable.
Key Man: Vincent Aboubakar.
The signing of Jordan Ayew from Marseille is a coup for Lorient, but the real transfer market success so far has been the Bretons’ ability to keep hold of last season’s star man Vincent Aboubakar. The Cameroon international bagged himself an impressive 16 goals and six assists in 35 appearances, brilliant when you consider that he arrived at Stade du Moustoir on a free transfer last summer.
Aboubakar will be central to Ripoll’s plans for the new, post-Gourcuff Lorient, and the 22-year-old will be expected to continue scoring and providing in equal measure.
Main Transfer Moves:
Benjamin Jeannot (Nancy), Jordan Ayew (Marseille), Walid Mesloub (Le Havre AC), Mathias Autret (Caen) and Vincent Le Goff (FC Istres).
Jeremie Aliadiere (Umm Salal), Gregory Bourillon (Stade de Reims), Maxime Baca (Guingamp), Kevin Monnet-Paquet (AS Saint-Etienne) and Larry Azouni (Marseille).
Although capable of aiming higher, Lorient’s primary objective will always be to secure survival as early as possible because of their relatively small size. If they can do that by early 2015, a European position could be a possibility. Much depends on how Ripoll takes to being the main man.