The Paris-Lille axis has been operating well for several seasons.
Among the staff of the Mastiffs, they are four this season to have gone through the training center of the club in the capital.
They are goalkeeper Mike Maignan (25), defensive midfielder Boubakary Soumaré (22), attacking midfielder Jonathan Ikoné (22) and striker Timothy Weah (21).
They will undoubtedly be several to participate, this Saturday at the Park, in the clash between the Lille dolphin and the Parisian leader, the two clubs being just separated on goal difference.
This interest of the northern club for Parisian nuggets dates back to the mid-2010s. At the time the reserves of Lille and PSG were often found in the same group of CFA (4th division).
"We started from the observation that there were very good players at the PSG training center, some of whom might never play in the pennant team," said Jean-Michel Vandamme, the former sports director of Lille.
We established a relationship of trust between Paris and Lille and we made sure to have loans and if possible loans with option to buy.
We didn't have the budget for the last three years at Losc.
We positioned ourselves on young people and their agents felt the interest of placing them with us in order to benefit from more playing time.
The proximity between the two cities also allowed young people to keep the link with their families.
Strong added value in perspective
In 2013, Mike Maignan signed his first pro contract with PSG.
He multiplies the good performances with the reserve but he does not manage to take the post of holder in the pennant team then held by Salvatore Sirigu, nor that of understudy occupied by Nicolas Douchez.
“At the time I called Olivier Létang
(Editor's note: deputy sports director of PSG)
to tell him that we were looking for a number 2 goalkeeper capable of becoming number 1, says Vandamme.
Mike was a keeper in the making.
He was not going to immediately debunk our holder Vincent Enyeama, as we knew, but his qualities were already clearly visible.
Today he is a great goalkeeper in northern goals.
For me, he will be Lloris' successor for the Blues.
Lille had bought it in 2015 for an amount of one million euros and it is currently worth at least 20 times as much.
In 2017, the Portuguese Luis Campos became sports advisor to the northern president Gérard Lopez.
With a huge network, he too looks to the Parisian training.
In 2017, Boubakary Soumaré, trained at PSG, refused to sign his first professional contract with his training club to join Losc.
After three months in reserve, the powerful defensive midfielder climbs into the pro squad before playing fairly regularly since the 2018-2019 season.
Campos also decides to recruit Jonathan Ikoné in 2018 for a transfer of 5 million euros, then Timothy Weah the following season for 10 million euros.
Choices paying since the four are holders or play fairly regularly.
They are also all international, except Soumaré currently with the Espoirs.
The transfer, this summer or later, of one or more of the musketeers, is the assurance for the club chaired by Olivier Letang to achieve a strong added value.
In the meantime, the four "Ch'Titis" could cause some misery this Saturday to their former club in this crucial meeting in more ways than one.