Tanguy Ndombele is set to make his second debut for Lyon this weekend after returning on loan following a frustrating spell at Tottenham, with the Ligue 1 club needing to replace the departed Bruno Guimaraes.
Lyon visit Monaco on Saturday, hoping to kick on after beating rivals Marseille and enjoying a strong transfer deadline day.
Peter Bosz also added winger Romain Faivre to his side in a 15-million-euro ($17.1 million) move from Brest, spending some of the reported 40 million pounds ($54 million) Newcastle paid for Guimaraes.
But a lot of the focus will be on midfielder Ndombele as he looks to prove a point after being repeatedly left out at Tottenham by Antonio Conte.
Ndombele has spoken of his desire to be selected for France’s 2022 World Cup squad and will also likely have to impress while on loan for Lyon to activate an option to buy of a reported 65 million euros.
“I’m happy to be here, I was struggling a bit at Tottenham,” Ndombele said.
“It was the right time for me to do something else. I know it here, adapting will be easier. I hope to repay the trust shown in me.
“There were discussions with other clubs. Coming back was a risk but I’m willing to take it.”
Lyon have missed out on Champions League qualification in each of the past two seasons and made a poor start to the current campaign.
But three successive wins have propelled them to within six points of third-placed Marseille, despite only sitting seventh in the table.
Ndombele says that he is fit and ready to play despite having not featured in a league game at all since December.
“I think I’m a better player today (than before he first left Lyon), I learned in England,” Ndombele, who made 96 appearances in his first spell with the club, added.
“I can bring my experience to the younger players in the dressing room. I stayed in contact with (Moussa) Dembele, (Jason) Denayer, (Maxence) Caqueret.
“It’s as if I’d never left… I’m ready, I don’t have time to acclimatise.”
Faivre could also make his debut against Monaco and will be looking to continue an excellent season in which he has already scored eight goals for Brest.
“I have ambitions and I set myself high goals,” said the 23-year-old. “Qualifying for Europe matters to me. I’m ready to play. I’m available to the coach.”
– PSG warming up for Real –
Runaway league leaders Paris Saint-Germain visit last season’s champions Lille on Sunday, looking to extend their 11-point lead at the top of the table.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men suffered a setback in midweek, exiting the French Cup with a penalty shootout loss to Nice in the last 16.
It will be that round of the Champions League that PSG already have one eye on, though, with Real Madrid set to visit the Parc des Princes later this month.
Kylian Mbappe was only used as a substitute in the cup and Neymar is still yet to reach full fitness after an ankle injury.
Elsewhere this weekend, struggling giants Saint-Etienne will hope that a busy transfer window can help provoke a change in fortunes.
The record 10-time French champions are rooted to the foot of the table and are four points from safety.
Saint-Etienne host Montpellier on Saturday, but will be without new signing Enzo Crivelli, with the striker — who has not scored a goal since 2020 — ruled out by a hamstring injury.
7: Saint-Etienne ended a seven-game losing streak in the league by beating Angers last month. They have since been knocked out of the French Cup by fourth-tier Bergerac.
8: Matches without defeat for Lyon, although the first five games in that run were draws.
Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated)
Marseille v Angers (2000)
Saint-Etienne v Montpellier (1600), Monaco v Lyon (2000)
Lorient v Lens (1200), Nice v Clermont, Reims v Bordeaux, Strasbourg v Nantes, Troyes v Metz, Rennes v Brest (1600), Lille v Paris Saint-Germain (1945)