Scotland (Glasgow), England (Norwich) the Netherlands (Almelo, Alkmaar), Belgium (Genk, Bruges), Italy (Milan), Argentina (Cordoba), Morocco (Casablanca) or even Qatar (Doha). This list is neither a recommended itinerary for a “road-trip” nor the international tour of a rock band. This list of countries and cities is none other than the representation of the international development of recruitment in Brest over the past year. Returned to Ligue 1 three seasons ago, Stade Brestois concluded 24 transfers in the direction of arrivals between June 2019 and January 2021 and only three players came from abroad. Since June 2021, Brest have registered 14 recruits and only three players have come from the French championships.
“In the locker room, everyone adapts, testifies captain Brendan Chardonnet. The steward gives his instructions in several languages, we make the effort to speak English and those who arrive learn French like Jere (Uronen) and Marco (Bizot), even if we don’t give a damn about their accent”. As it settles in the elite, Stade Brestois diversifies its transfer window. For what reasons ?
“Ligue 2 has become very expensive”
The first is financial. Grégory Lorenzi notes that “players with high potential in Ligue 2 have become very expensive and are no longer necessarily accessible”. The sports director in office since 2016 takes the example of midfielder Johann Lepenant, 19 years old and recently sold by Caen to Lyon six million euros. In search of a central defender, Stade Brestois had also inquired about Formose Mendy (21 years old) but the more than five million requested by Amiens quickly cooled Brest’s ambitions.
“Inevitably, we are forced to go to different markets,” continues Lorenzi who says he bought Achraf Dari from Wydad Casablanca for a sum of around “two million euros. That’s why it makes me laugh when I hear that I made an offer for Rassoul Ndiaye (Sochaux). He is a player that I find very good but with the 18 Ligue 1 budget, I cannot afford to offer more than four million when we are in a transfer window where I have to recruit 7-8 players ”. For the moment, and while there is still at least one striker or even a defensive midfielder to be recruited, Stade Brestois has signed six players for an envelope somewhat over five million, excluding bonuses.
Three in the recruiting cell
If the French market is tense and the competition fierce, that does not mean that Brest is turning its back on it. Mathias Pereira Lage arrived free from Angers and Simon Banza, Evan Guessand or Jonas Martin, to name a few, were tempted during this transfer window. But to survive, and because the big teams in the championship also less easily let go of up-and-coming players like Ibrahima Diallo, Romain Faivre, Romain Perraud and Irvin Cardona, the Breton club must look elsewhere. And has therefore developed its skills abroad. How ? “It’s word of mouth,” explains Lorenzi. You have to know the right people and create a network. I prefer to have a smaller but more reliable network. Serious agents are not there to make a hit but to create a long-term relationship”.
A year ago, it was through this that he was made aware of Marco Bizot’s desire to change scenery and leave the Netherlands. A policy that inevitably has its share of risks, like the failures of Heriberto Tavares and Youssouph Badji. “But the risk is everywhere, even in France”, cuts Lorenzi, at the head of a recruitment unit made up of three people: him, his brother Yannick and the former professional Thierry Bonalair. “We shoot in the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Scandinavia, details Lorenzi. Three isn’t a lot. There is a deficit that will have to be improved to be more present in other championships”.