Christophe Galtier and Nice have strongly condemned chants from their supporters about the late Emiliano Sala.

Former Nantes striker Sala died in a plane crash in January 2019 as he travelled from France to the United Kingdom having signed for Cardiff City.

Sala was a hugely popular figure at Nantes, and supporters of the Ligue 1 club sang his name as they won the Coupe de France on Saturday. Nantes beat Nice 1-0 in the final.

But in Nice's first match since their defeat, sections of their home crowd in a 4-2 win over Saint-Etienne could be heard directing derogatory chants towards Sala.

Head coach Galtier was shocked by the abuse, revealing it was the focus of he and the Nice team after the match.

"I don't have words to describe what I heard," Galtier said. "One of the first reactions in the dressing room was not our songs, shouts of joy or relief. It was to talk about what the players heard.

"On behalf of my dressing room, my technical staff, my medical staff, the players, we would like to apologise to the family of Emiliano Sala and FC Nantes."

A Nice statement read: "OGC Nice condemns in the strongest terms the chant about Emiliano Sala heard on Wednesday evening at the Allianz Riviera.

"The club does not recognise its values or those of the entire red and black family in this unthinkable and abject provocation of a minority of its supporters.

"OGC Nice extends its support to the family and loved ones of Emiliano Sala."

Nantes, who beat Rennes 2-1 on Wednesday, also responded to news of the incident.

"I'm outraged," said coach Antoine Kombouare. "These people have no place in stadiums. They should be banned.

"It's shameful, I feel sorry for the family. I knew the fans could be stupid, but these are donkeys."

A Nantes statement added: "FC Nantes has discovered with horror the content of the chants of some OGC Nice supporters and can only strongly condemn such acts degrading the memory of Emiliano Sala.

"At the same time, FC Nantes would like to thank OGC Nice and its coach Christophe Galtier for their support and their firm condemnation of such remarks.

"FC Nantes as a whole supports Emiliano's family and loved ones."

Dante says Nice's 1-0 Coupe de France final defeat to Nantes on Saturday will "hurt for a long time".

Ludovic Blas scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the first minute of the second half at the Stade de France.

Blas emphatically drilled home his spot-kick after Hicham Boudaoui handled and that was enough for Nantes to win their first major trophy for 21 years.

Nice were left to rue their lack of a cutting edge as they failed to end a trophy drought that stretches back to 1997, when they lifted the Coupe de France for a third time.

Captain Dante was left to reflect on a painful missed opportunity and warned Christophe Galtier's side must respond when they face St Etienne in Ligue 1 on Wednesday, with European qualification not secured.

The Brazilian defender said: "A lot of sadness. We are very disappointed because we really wanted to give this to our supporters and the people that have been waiting for this for so long, but we didn't manage to do so.

"It will hurt for a long time but we need to quickly lift our heads. We have a very important match on Wednesday."

Nice boss Galtier felt his side did not do themselves justice in Paris.

He said: "My feeling is disappointment. When you reach the final and you play for this magnificent trophy, you do everything possible to try to win it. 

"The big regret I have is about our technical quality on an offensive level. We had very little success in what we undertook. We showed too much haste in the game."

He added: "It is a great regret, a very great disappointment."

Mauricio Pochettino has suggested Paris Saint-Germain's defeat against Nice came down to misfortune more than anything else, after Andy Delort struck late to sink the Ligue 1 leaders.

The title frontrunners came up short against Christophe Galtier's hosts at Allianz Riviera thanks to the Algerian striker's late finish.

With the suspended Kylian Mbappe's absence leaving Les Parisiens short in attack, they have now lost consecutive league games on the road for the first time since April 2019.

Pochettino admitted that his side had not done enough to claim victory, but maintained Nice had not earned their three points either, chalking it up as something of a sporting incident.

"We thought it was going to end in a draw because neither of them had done enough to win," the Argentine stated in his post-game news conference.

"We had control of the game, especially in the second half, but we took a goal in transition and we lost. There's not much to analyse. There are times when if you cannot win, you mustn't lose."

With a Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid to come, Pochettino was keen to re-focus thoughts towards the future, rather than dwell on Saturday's result.

"We are preparing for a competition that everyone in Paris is waiting for and that everyone dreams of," he added. "Wednesday will be a different game, a different opponent, a different competition. I have no doubts that we will play the game that we have to do".

Having guided Lille to the top-tier crown last term before a shock exit, Galtier has set about returning Nice to the upper echelons of the domestic pyramid in the south of France.

His win over PSG notched his fourth consecutive clean sheet as a manager against Saturday's opponents, while match winner Delort was one of his major signings last summer.

Speaking to Canal+ after the match, the Algeria striker was quick to heap praise on his coach too, stating: "He's the best coach in Ligue 1 and I hope he'll stay with us for a long time."

Christophe Galtier guided Nice past the minnows of Versailles and into the Coupe de France final, before declaring: "I can't wait to see the Stade de France in red and black."

A first appearance in the competition's final for 25 years awaits Nice now, with Nantes and Monaco going head to head on Wednesday for the right to join them in Paris on May 8.

Nice are owned now by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and have big ambitions they are moving towards fulfilling. A trophy is now in their sights, while they sit third in Ligue 1, which meant they began as overwhelming favourites against fourth-tier Versailles.

Goals in the second half from Amine Gouiri and Kasper Dolberg did the job, earning a 2-0 win for the home side as an initially nervy Nice stepped up the pace once they edged ahead.

"There was a lot of pressure before this match," head coach Galtier said. "People wanted to see the amateurs beat the pros. The joy was not the same with us as it was after the successes against PSG or Marseille. It was more relief and satisfaction."

PSG and Marseille were beaten by Nice in the previous two rounds, and it will be the Parisians who are next to come to the Allianz Riviera on Saturday for a Ligue 1 assignment.

"We have to recover quickly to play a big match against Paris," Galtier said. "But there is a lot of joy and relief. I can't wait to see the Stade de France in red and black."

More joy for Galtier could come at the national stadium, as the man who won the Coupe de la Ligue with Saint-Etienne nine years ago and the Ligue 1 title with Lille last season attempts to complete the set of French football's major trophies.

"It would be great as a treble with three different clubs," Galtier said. "I've already won the Coupe de France as an assistant with Alain Perrin at Sochaux and Lyon, but as a head coach it would be extraordinary. However, we are a long way from that."

Goalkeeper Marcin Bulka said Nice were good value for their place in the trophy match.

Bulka told Nice's official website: "There are thousands of teams who take part in this competition, and we have qualified for the final! We are very happy with this qualification. It's well deserved, because we eliminated strong teams like Paris and Marseille.

"It is no accident, no coincidence that we are here. The team deserves this victory and those before and to be in the final. Now we have one last step. We want to win and I hope we will achieve our goal."

Nice must build on their 4-0 thrashing of Ligue 1 champions Lille, Christophe Galtier demanded after triumphing over his former club.

Galtier led Lille to the title last season, as Les Dogues edged out Paris Saint-Germain.

While PSG have added more remarkable talent to their already world class squad, with the arrivals of Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi and Gianluigi Donnarumma topped off by the signing of Lionel Messi, Lille have had to contend with the loss of their coach, who left the club to join Nice in the off-season.

Galtier and Lille hardly parted on good terms internally, despite the 54-year-old delivering the club's first title in a decade.

There have also been rumblings of discontent at Nice, with tensions reportedly appearing between Galtier and sporting director Julien Fournier as they aim to bolster the squad.

A disappointing 0-0 home draw to Reims started Galtier's tenure, but Nice put that well behind them with a thrilling showing against the champions on Saturday.

Kasper Dolberg got the ball rolling inside 57 seconds after Amine Gouiri had caused havoc in the Lille defence – that was the earliest Ligue 1 goal scored by the club since April 2013 (32 seconds).

Gouiri then teed up Hichem Boudaoui for a fierce effort four minutes later to make it 2-0. The former ensured Nice were 3-0 up at the break for the first time since October 2014 as he converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Dolberg completed the scoring just past the hour, with Gouiri denied a second of his own soon after due to offside.

It was the first time since September 2017 that Lille had conceded four goals in a single home league match and Galtier basked in the achievement.

"It's a great victory," he told Nice's official website.

"We knew that we were going to face a side that has been in place for a certain period of time and that our first match against Reims wasn't good enough.

"Against Reims, we were missing a lot of things. The players did well [against Lille]. It's their victory because they have come a long way."

Asked what it meant to defeat his old side in such an emphatic manner, Galtier explained: "I haven't had the time to reflect on that yet. It's always good to keep your feet firmly on the ground and to remain vigilant after this kind of victory, which seems easy when you look at the score.

"But it's a victory that required a lot of commitment and energy. We can't ease our feet off the pedals throughout the week or allow what we are demanding in training to drop off."

The defeat means Lille are still waiting for their first win of the season. It is the third time they have failed to triumph in either of their opening two matches of a campaign in which they have been defending champions.

Jocelyn Gourvennec was quick to share the credit for Lille's historic Trophee des Champions success with predecessor Christophe Galtier.

Former head coach Galtier steered Lille to a first Ligue 1 title in a decade before departing for Nice, with new boss Gourvennec masterminding a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in Sunday’s curtain-raiser for the new domestic season.

Xeka's first-half strike from long range was the difference between the teams, ending PSG's eight-year spell of dominance in the competition, while it also secured Lille's first ever triumph at the third attempt.

"When you play a trophy, what matters is the title," Gourvennec told the media after the game. "We suffered in the second half because there was a high technical quality in front of us.

"We went through a lot but the players are used to it. There were also moments like that last season, and we were able to stay strong.

"It is not easy to take over from Christophe [Galtier]. I say it very simply: I share this title with him because he has done a remarkable job with his staff. It's kind of his title. 

"It's good to start on a positive note. There is collective strength in this team, and talent too. We found that tonight."

Pochettino's men were dethroned in Ligue 1 last term by Gourvennec's new side, who denied the former Tottenham boss a third domestic trophy at the French giants, with the hard-fought win an early psychological blow ahead of the new campaign.

However, Julian Draxler, who was denied by Lille goalkeeper Leo Jardim in the first half and volleyed wide in the second, insisted the result would not impact PSG's Ligue 1 preparations.

"It's hard to accept losing a final but we didn't play badly when we were missing players," the attacking midfielder said after the final loss. "It wasn't perfect, but in the second half we were the best team.

"Congratulations to Lille. We are sad and disappointed for our supporters, but we gave everything until the last minute. We'll be ready for Ligue 1."

PSG had a number of first-team regulars absent, including Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

Gianluigi Donnarumma was also not involved, though fellow new recruit Achraf Hakimi started and Georginio Wijnaldum was introduced as a second-half substitute.

Everton continue their search for Carlo Ancelotti's replacement.

One emerging candidate has plenty of familiarity with Liverpool. 

Could the Toffees turn to a former rival? 

 

TOP STORY – BENITEZ IN MERSEYSIDE RETURN?

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has emerged as a strong contender to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, the Daily Mirror and other outlets report. 

As the Merseyside club's interest in former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has faded, majority owner Farhad Moshiri apparently plans to speak to the 61-year-old Benitez. 

The Spaniard was Liverpool's manager from 2004-10, winning the Champions League title in 2005. He spent 18 months in charge of Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional before leaving by mutual consent in January. 

Others under consideration include Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter, former Lille coach Christophe Galtier and former Toffees boss Roberto Martinez

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have matched Paris Saint-Germain's offer of about €65million (£56.1m) to Inter for Achraf Hakimi, according to Sky Sport Italia, though Inter value the 22-year-old at €81m (£70m).

- Barcelona see Manchester City's Raheem Sterling as a potential replacement for Ousmane Dembele should the France international depart, according to Sport, and Marca says PSG have interest in Dembele. 

- David de Gea seems inclined to extend his stay at Manchester United and expects to be the first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Dean Henderson, The Sun reports. 

- Atletico Madrid rejected United's £10m bid for England right-back Kieran Trippier, according to Football Insider. 

- Roma are close to completing their long-rumoured signing of Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

- West Ham would like to sign Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard on a permanent deal, The Sun reports. 

- Tottenham have had discussions with Borussia Monchengladbach winger Marcus Thuram, RMC Sport reports, and The Athletic says Spurs could also be eyeing RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer

- Former Roma coach Paulo Fonseca has emerged as Spurs' preferred option to replace Jose Mourinho and the sides have discussed a three-year contract, the Guardian reports. 

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could be in the mix for the Crystal Palace opening, the Daily Mirror reports. 

Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge?

Lukaku's first taste of English football was with Chelsea between 2011-14.

He could be set for a Chelsea return amid doubts over his Inter future.

 

TOP STORY – TUCHEL WANTS LUKAKU

Chelsea are planning a move for Inter star Romelu Lukaku, according to The Guardian.

Lukaku, who joined the Blues in 2011 before leaving in 2014, is reportedly considering his future after Antonio Conte quit Inter amid the Serie A champions' troubled financial situation.

Inter quartet Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Achraf Hakimi – linked with Paris Saint-Germain – and Alessandro Bastoni could be sold by the Nerazzurri.

Chelsea are now eyeing a reunion with Real Madrid and Barcelona target Lukaku after winning the Champions League, while Tottenham's Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland are also on their radar.

 

ROUND-UP

Gianluigi Donnarumma is prepared to join Juventus on a worse contract than he rejected at Milan, reports Corriere dello Sport. Donnarumma is available on a free transfer and the Italy international has been linked with Barca, Manchester United and PSG. Mundo Deportivo says Barca consider Donnarumma a good market opportunity.

- Bild reports Florian Neuhaus will remain at Borussia Monchengladbach, despite interest from Bayern Munich.

Olivier Giroud will join Milan as a free agent from Chelsea, claims Calciomercato. Giroud is available after his contract was not renewed at Stamford Bridge.

- Lille's Christophe Galtier is the latest candidate to replace head coach Simone Inzaghi at Lazio, joining Maurizio Sarri, Andre Villas-Boas and Sinisa Mihajlovic, according to Tuttomercato. Inzaghi is poised to succeed Conte at Inter.

Lille will demand compensation from Christophe Galtier's next club after the coach behind the stunning Ligue 1 title success announced his departure.

The northern side pulled off a remarkable championship success by pipping big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, with Galtier a man in demand following that achievement.

Lyon, Nice and Napoli are said to have made contact with the 54-year-old former Saint-Etienne boss, who could have his choice of jobs.

Olivier Letang, the Lille president, said he gave his blessing for Galtier to leave after being unable to talk him around.

But given that Galtier had 12 months remaining on his Lille deal, the club have a claim on him.

"There's still a year on Christophe's contract with LOSC and in the first instance we will have to discuss the terms of his departure with the club that he chooses," Letang told Lille's website.

"While waiting to find an agreement with this club, we are going to calmly begin to discuss with several coaches of a high level, always with the best interests of the club, namely sporting ambition and competitiveness. Christophe has said he'll always remain a supporter of LOSC; in the same way and in all friendship, I wish him a lot of happiness for the rest of his brilliant coaching career."

Lille clinched the French league title on Sunday and it was Tuesday when Galtier made his desire to leave formally known.

"I obviously showed him my willingness to continue with him, because he is someone for whom I have a great deal of friendship and esteem, as a coach but also as a man," Letang said.

"We spent five months together. They were intense and formidable, on a human and professional level. But Christophe made the decision to leave LOSC. I respect him and have to accept it.

"I naturally tried to convince him [to stay], but I think his decision had already been taken. Everyone at Lille will keep great memories of his time at LOSC, with the peak of this title of champions of France. We can only thank him for what he brought here."

Christophe Galtier has announced he is leaving his role as Lille head coach after guiding the club to a shock Ligue 1 title.

The 54-year-old says he has had contact from fellow Ligue 1 sides Lyon and Nice as well as Serie A team Napoli.

Galtier joined Lille in December 2017 after having an eight-year run in charge of Saint-Etienne.

"I simply have the deep belief that my time is up here," he told L'Equipe on Tuesday.

"I've made up my mind. I informed my president, Olivier Letang, after listening to him a lot this morning that I was going to leave LOSC.

"This four-year cycle is long enough for a coach. I feel inside that this is the time to leave this beautiful club, this magnificent club."

Lille defeated Angers 2-1 on Sunday to ensure they finished one point clear of a usually dominant Paris Saint-Germain side in France's top flight.

It was just the club's fourth league title in the professional era and their first since 2010-11, when Eden Hazard was part of a star-studded squad.

Lille's points tally of 83 was the best in their history and they only lost three matches all season, the last of which was in March against Nimes.

Their success was only the second time in nine seasons that PSG have not been crowned champions, with Monaco also having lifted the trophy back in 2016-17.

Galtier, who replaced Marcelo Bielsa when he took over at Lille, saved the club from relegation in that 2017-18 season.

He then led them to a second-place finish in 2018-19 and to fourth last season, which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Veteran striker Burak Yilmaz was one of the stars of a Lille squad who upset the odds in 2020-21 and ensured the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe missed out on Ligue 1 silverware.

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