Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS/AFP via Getty Images

Lyon to rival Southampton for Randal Kolo Muani transfer as Ligue 1 giants eye Memphis Depay replacement

According to L’Equipe, Lyon have marked Southampton target Randal Kolo Muani as their priority option to replace Memphis Depay.

Lyon are set to lose Depay at the end of his contract next month with the forward receiving interest from Barcelona. He is yet to sign any deal with the Catalan outfit but has confirmed he will leave his Ligue 1 side.

Muani is now being lined up as the number one option to replace the Dutchman. Depay will leave big shoes to fill, having scored 20 goals and offered 12 assists in 37 games this season.

Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS/AFP via Getty Images

Lyon are pursuing Muani having been impacted financially by the pandemic and can only sign those available for low fees. They believe the FC Nantes forward fits their bill and have made initial contact with the 22-year-old’s agent.

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Lyon are prepared to wait until next January to reach an agreement with Muani if a deal is not secured this summer. The France U21 international will be a free agent in 2022 but has sparked European wide interest.

Southampton were recently linked with Muani by Foot Mercato, who claimed Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side had joined a six-way battle. Watford, Eintracht Frankfurt, Leipzig, Freiburg and Club Brugge were also credited with interest.

Nantes are expected to sell Muani for €5million (£4m), while Crystal Palace have also been linked by Le10 Sport. But in a blow to Southampton and the Premier League sides, L’Equipe claim he would prefer to stay in France.

Muani enjoyed his first full season as a first-team player at Nantes this term with 37 Ligue 1 appearances. Head coach Antoine Kombouare will hope he can add to his nine goals or eight assists when his side visits Toulouse in the relegation play-off first-leg on Thursday night.

TBR’s view: Lyon deal Southampton big Muani blow

Lyon viewing Muani as their priority target to replace Depay will come as a big blow for Southampton. Hasenhuttl may struggle to convince the Frenchman to move away from his comforts in Ligue 1 with one of the top French sides showing a keen interest in his services.

Muani would expect a leading role at the Groupama Stadium if Lyon were to agree a deal with Nantes, too. He would also back himself to fill the void Depay will leave after a strong return of goals this season.

But what could work in Southampton’s favour is that Nantes’ relatively cheap valuation will allow Saints CEO Martin Semmens to offer a lucrative contract. Lyon could struggle to match his offer given the French giants are having to target low-cost options this summer.

It remains to be seen if a better financial package is enough to tempt Muani to the south coast, however.

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