Free agent Emmanuel Adebayor has slammed Lyon and the club’s coach Bruno Genesio for pulling out of a move to sign him, describing their explanation as a “ridiculous excuse”.
The Togo striker, who last played for Crystal Palace, flew in for talks with Genesio on Friday after the boss at Parc OL had indicated a deal was close to completion.
However, Lyon announced they had decided to back out of the move on Saturday, citing Adebayor’s involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations next year and his ineligibility for the Champions league group stage as their reasons.
But the 32-year-old – formerly of Metz, Monaco, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Real Madrid – hit out at that statement, saying he felt shocked by his treatment and some strange questioning from Genesio at their meeting.
Adebayor was stunned by the alleged AFCON issue, telling L’Equipe: “They said that? That’s nonsense. They came to me after we had qualified, so they knew I was going to play.
“If they start looking for such excuses, they will kill themselves. I’m the captain of my country, so how could I not go? What if a Frenchman refused to play in the Euros?
“OL spoke to Claude Le Roy, my coach with Togo, and they didn’t ask for special treatment. This was absolutely never a reason there was no deal.
“I found out [they had pulled out] on Saturday morning. Claude Le Roy told me he had seen it in L’Equipe. I called my agent who more or less confirmed it to me.
“Terms were agreed on Tuesday. Lyon wanted to send me a private jet to Lome [the capital of Togo]!
“I couldn’t leave the same evening because Lome is not Paris – there are not flights every 30 minutes. I had things to sort on Wednesday, too. So I arrived on Friday morning at 10:30 to speak to the coach. I thought it was just a medical then to sign.
“Even if I wasn’t in the squad, I would’ve gone to Marseille to support the team and see how they play.”
Adebayor claims he realised the expected transfer was not a done deal when Genesio embarked on a strange line of enquiry about the player’s private life.
“The coach asked me surprising questions,” he said.
“He wanted to know if I was married, if I had a kid. But all he needed to do was look online.
“He asked me how I would speak to the young players in case they were struggling, in which role I saw myself. This is how I know there was not already an agreement on a contract.
“I’ve been playing at the highest level for 15 years and I have worked with some of the best coaches in the world – [Arsene] Wenger, [Jose] Mourinho, [Didier] Deschamps, [Roberto] Mancini.
“He asked me why it didn’t work at Crystal Palace. I told him that I’ve always played for teams aiming for the English title or a European title. It’s the first time I’ve been in a team battling relegation and the play didn’t suit me.
“What’s more, he’s scared of Florian Maurice [Lyon’s director of recruitment]. I asked to see around the ground to soak up the atmosphere but he said he’d have to speak to Florian. Imagine Wenger asking someone if he could give me a tour of the Arsenal training centre.
“I think the Champions League win against [Dinamo] Zagreb changed things. There’s a little disappointment obviously because I really liked Lyon, like I said to the coach. If they didn’t want me, why did they make a ridiculous excuse?
“But I’m stronger than that in my head. I could have died in 2010, so nothing can touch me today,” he added, referring to a terrorist attack on the Togo team bus at the AFCON in Angola six years ago.
“I will move onto something else, even if this was a really funny chapter.”