French giants Lyon are looking to new recruit Yoann Gourcuff to breathe fresh life into a team which has struggled since the departure of Brazil legend Juninho two years ago.
Last year's Ligue 1 runners-up have reached agreement with French first division rivals Bordeaux for France international midfielder Gourcuff in a deal worth €22m. The 24-year-old Gourcuff will sign a long-term deal after finalising details, Lyon said.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has high hopes for their new boy who he believes is of the same calibre as Sonny Anderson, bought from Barcelona in June 1999, and who helped spark Lyon to seven league titles from 2002-2008.
"We feel a great excitement everywhere which leads us to believe that we have achieved something extraordinary," said Aulas of the Brittany-born playmaker, who has played 22 times for France. "We're going to see what we can do to ensure that Yoann gets a welcome from the fans like at Barcelona or Real Madrid."
After a spell at AC Milan from 2007-08, Gourcuff achieved his top level the following season in Bordeaux, scoring 12 goals and making 11 key passes. And Aulas is counting on Gourcuff to lift a team hit by multiple injuries to the likes of Ederson, who has been ruled out for six months with a thigh injury, Cris, Michel Bastos, Aly Cissokho and Lisandro.
Lyon midfielder Jean Makoun admitted Gourcuff's arrival was eagerly awaited. "His arrival demonstrates all the club's ambition," he said. "He has a lot of technical qualities. He's a player who can be decisive in extra time and in the final pass. Sometimes we have trouble in these areas.
"He moves well and is intelligent in his passes. He knows how to keep the ball and makes the difference at key moments. With him we're hoping to get to the next level and recapture the title."