Following a cataclysmic 2021-2022 season, the Greens returned to the antechamber of Ligue 1 which they had left in 2004 under the aegis of Frédéric Antonetti. Due to this upheaval in the landscape of French football, the club embarked on a new project, headed by coach Batlles.
A two-year project
Upon his return to the Maison Verte, Laurent Batlles kept repeating that his project ran over two years. In one of the worst contexts that the club has known in its prestigious history, it was indeed necessary to wash heads and avoid haste.
The results of the start of the season quickly proved the new Saint-Etienne coach right, with a first leg significantly reminiscent of last season, which ended with a descent to the lower level. Indeed, after 19 games, the Stéphanois point to a worrying 18th place, with three points behind on maintenance.
It is indeed coherent that a game project as ambitious as that of Laurent Batlles takes time before really being set up. Players need to be able to immerse themselves in the tactics and take the time to get to know each other perfectly, especially in the case of ASSE where the workforce was almost entirely reshaped during the off-season.
A turbulent summer transfer window
Indeed, the club has gotten rid of the majority of players who have experienced the descent into Ligue 2. Denis Bouanga, Wahbi Khazri, Arnaud Nordin, Timothée Kolodziejczak, Yvan Neyou and others have sailed towards other horizons, the main idea being to manage to turn the page of a painful episode for all lovers of the Greens.
As a replacement, the Saint-Etienne management was able to count on several reinforcements: Chambost, Briançon, Giraudon, Cafaro, Lobry, Pintor, Bouchouari, Dreyer, Wadji, Pétrot and Monconduit came to strengthen the ranks of the professional team.
Despite a plethora of recruitment, few players have given complete satisfaction. Among them stand out Benjamin Bouchouari, Victor Lobry and Anthony Briançon. For the rest, the work had to be started from scratch during the winter transfer window in order to fill the various gaps.
Rebelote in January
This time, the management decided to put their hands in the wallet. No more dubious bets, it’s time to find the means to get out of this situation in which the club has been mired since the departure of Jean-Louis Gasset (perhaps even Christophe Galtier).
To do this, Gaëtan Charbonnier, Dennis Appiah, Gautier Larsonneur, Kader Bamba and Niels Nkounkou came to strengthen the ranks of Saint-Etienne. In addition, Lamine Fomba should be the sixth recruit of the winter transfer window… but not the last. Indeed, several sources attest to the probable arrival of a right winger by January 31 at 11 p.m. In addition, we can note that the club avoided loans as much as possible during this transfer window.
With the exception of Bamba, Nkounkou and Charbonnier (who would have an extension clause if they stay), the new recruits have signed a contract for several seasons, a sign of their long-term involvement in the new Saint-Etienne project. .
In addition, the staff has targeted profiles, most of whom have solid professional football experience, both in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. Above all, the various profiles attracted during this window transfers seem to have a common denominator: their consistency with the game system desired by the Loire staff.
From contract ends
In addition to the loan returns (Cafaro, Bamba, Nkounkou) and the particular case of Gaëtan Charbonnier who could well come back in the event of maintenance, the club will not be faced with a significant loss of players at the end of their contracts. Among the holders, only Jean-Philippe Krasso, for whom the club has begun discussions for an extension, is concerned. What to start on a solid basis next season? The future will tell…
In addition to the players mentioned above, Palencia, Namri, Saban, Ab. Sidibé and Calodat will also be in contract at the end of the season.
Maintenance to be ensured as a priority
The club may want to capitalize for next season, the priority is in maintaining. Despite a happier first half of January than in previous months, ASSE absolutely has to take points. Indeed, the project put in place would be null and void if the club does not remain in league 2 at the end of this season. In addition, it should be remembered that the position of Laurent Batlles has recently been weakened internally. An eviction of the tactician would call into question all the steps put in place since the summer of 2022.
Will ASSE manage to hold its own and get off to a good start next season, despite a catastrophic start to the season? Start of response tomorrow evening, after the meeting against Sochaux…
Article written by Cédric D