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Lyon sporting director Juninho has slammed Barcelona leaving star Memphis Depay for wanting the Ligue 1 team to revolve around him like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Depay will be leaving Lyon for a free transfer this offseason and La Liga giants Barca – led by former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman – have been asked to sign the Dutch forward.
The 27-year-old Depay, who arrived from Manchester United in 2017, has been involved in 32 Ligue 1 goals this season (20 goals and 12 assists) – tying his best score in a single campaign with the French side (19 goals and 13 assists in 2017-2018).
Only Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe scored more Ligue 1 goals (27) than Depay in 2020-2021, but Juninho had strong words for the outgoing Lyon captain.
“Memphis Depay just wanted a team for himself,” Juninho told OLTV. “It’s not a criticism, I had a good relationship with him.
“But on the other hand, the whole team had to revolve around him and it’s very difficult. Everyone should feel like they are working the same way.
“There are only four players in the world where you have to do everything for them: Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Mbappe. If you have one, the team can turn around them.
“Sorry, I think Depay is strong, but he’s not up to them. And I think he has to work harder without the ball.”
Juninho also responded to the staggering criticism of outgoing head coach Rudi Garcia.
In an interview with L’Equipe, Garcia said: “I was not well received by some people but I thought that after the cups and being at the top of the standings at the halfway point, things were going to change.
“There are fiery minorities but in the city the messages I received were really nice. I also have the satisfaction of having France’s second team in terms of more playing time for young players. C ‘was one of the objectives, to give chances. for and favor those who have a market value but also to play the Brazilian recruits and after a while, there is squaring of the circle …
“…he [Gerard Houllier, who died in December] was critical in the balance of the club. He knew how to grease the wheels. It was he who was able to explain the role of sports director to Juninho who lacked experience. It is essential in a club that everyone is behind the other as we saw in Lille. Here there was too much dissonance in my relationship with Juni.
“Things went well at first. Things started to go wrong without me noticing. After two or three wins in November, the sporting director didn’t come to congratulate me again. I noticed that when the Brazilian rookies weren’t playing, he wasn’t happy, he would have preferred to win with his players.
“He puts a lot of effort into it, and that’s a quality, but I certainly think he had to promise them that they would start. We talked about it, he told me that if it had to be done again, he wouldn’t grow. not. those things. But it has slowed the emergence of some young players like [Maxence] Caqueret in particular. Juni’s opinion was that Jean Lucas was doing better. The problem must come from there at the beginning. And things quickly deteriorated. “
In response as Lyon tried to replace Garcia, Juninho said: “I was surprised. I knew he was going to do something like that because that’s his character. He chose an experienced journalist and the statement seems to have been prepared a long time ago. It’s a long interview, but I don’t feel like I was betrayed, we are betrayed by friends and we have worked together as professionals.
“One of the problems I had with Rudi was the way he treated the players in the locker room. He was strong with the weak and weak with the strong. It created problems in the locker room and the players came to me. Rudi Garcia wanted to loan Jean Lucas because he wasn’t playing him, we didn’t necessarily agree on that. He was complaining that he wasn’t progressing tactically, and I thought maybe it was his fault. He took certain things personally but the player has nothing to do with that, in the end he was loaned, maybe I insisted too much but I have the right to ask questions.
“I think he lacks self-confidence. It bothered him too, my way of behaving with the players and the rest of the staff. During the transfer window, it is true that I did not let him choose the players But that’s it, my role, I made my choices. [Lucas] Paqueta, for example, I made the effort to bring him in. He wasn’t necessarily used to it; he likes to impose his choices and that is understandable. But I defended Rudi on several occasions, it was not necessarily easy but he was doing a good job. “