England midfielder Joe Cole is moving to French Ligue 1 football champions Lille on a season-long loan from his current club Liverpool.

"/> England midfielder Joe Cole is moving to French Ligue 1 football champions Lille on a season-long loan from his current club Liverpool.

" />


French champs Lille seal Joe Cole loan deal

England midfielder Joe Cole is moving to French Ligue 1 football champions Lille on a season-long loan from his current club Liverpool.

French champs Lille seal Joe Cole loan deal
Kevin Walsh

Lille chairman Michel Seydoux said in a press conference at the club’s Camphin-en-Pévèle training ground on Wednesday that it was a “huge honour” to have such a talent join the club.

“It’s rare in the history of football to see a transfer going in this direction across the Channel,” he said. 

A large number of French footballers currently play in the English Premier League including two players from Lille, Yohan Cabaye and Gervinho, who moved to play at Newcastle and Arsenal this summer.

Cole is the first player to move in the opposite direction since Trevor Steven left Rangers for Marseille in 1991.

The player told local newspaper La Voix du Nord that he had been wanting to play abroad for some time.

“I’m coming to a good club that plays great football and is very friendly,” he told the newspaper. “I’ve been here since yesterday and everything is positive and the place itself is magnificent.”

He praised the Lille team as a sort of “little Barça”, a reference to current European and Spanish champions Barcelona, saying they “pass the ball quickly and well.”

The move could give the 29-year-old more action on the pitch since his move to Liverpool on a free transfer from Chelsea last summer. He has had a difficult time at Liverpool’s home in Anfield, battling with injury and only managing nine Premier League starts.

Another bonus for the midfielder could be Lille’s closeness to Cole’s native London. The travel time is just 1 hour and 20 minutes on the Eurostar.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Row over French stadium accident that left 29 hurt

The owner of French top-flight club Lille hit back at his rival at Amiens SC on Sunday, suggesting safety lapses were to blame for the collapse of a stadium barrier which left 29 fans injured during a game between the teams.

Row over French stadium accident that left 29 hurt
Photo: Francois Lo Presti/AFP

The chairman of Amiens, Bernard Joannin, initially blamed hundreds of “hardcore fans” among Lille supporters for the shocking scenes during Saturday's Ligue 1 encounter in Amiens in northeast France.

“They surged forward, chaotically, more than 500 people, against this barrier, which was in perfect condition,” Joannin said after the accident which led the game to be abandoned.

Most of the victims were discharged from hospital on Sunday morning except six people who sustained serious injuries when the pitch-side barrier gave way, sending dozens of people tumbling on top of each other.

The Lille supporters – no more than a few hundred – pressed against the barrier early in the first-half as fans moved forward to celebrate their team's opening goal against newly promoted Amiens.

Gerard Lopez, the chairman and owner of Lille, told AFP he was “shocked” by Joannin appearing to blame hooligans for the accident.

“What's serious is that supporters are celebrating a goal and at the end there are injured people. It's very serious to talk about aggressiveness,” he said in a an interview on Sunday.

He also raised worries allegedly mentioned by supporters from Strasbourg, Marseille and Nice who had claimed the stadium was “not very solid”.

“I've seen photos of the stadium, the supports for the barriers,” he added.

Joannin said on Sunday he regretted his initial reaction.

Stop the arguments

Referee Thomas Leonard suspended the match in the 16th minute as Red Cross and emergency workers rushed to help the injured, while prosecutors have since opened an investigation.

“It happened all of a sudden. I don't even know who scored. It just suddenly fell on me. I couldn't hear anything, I couldn't see anything and then the emergency workers took me away,” said Georges Penel, a 21-year-old Lille fan who suffered injuries to his leg and back.

Built in 1999, the Stade de la Licorne (“Stadium of the Unicorn”) is the smallest of the 20 French Ligue 1 clubs, with a capacity of only 12,000.

Renovation work is taking place throughout the 2017-18 season, but chairman Joannin ruled out any link between improvements to the stadium and Saturday's accident.

“We shouldn't mix up work being done on the roof and the rest of the stadium, which has been checked and approved by all of the security commissions,” he told a press conference on Sunday morning.

In May, local politician Alain Gest had suggested that upkeep of the stadium had been neglected by previous local administrations but was now “perfectly in line with regulations” and “up to standards for playing in Ligue 1”.

The mayor of Lille, leading Socialist party figure Martine Aubry called for calm on Twitter, saying: “Let's stop the arguments. Think about the victims first and let's wait for the enquiry results.”