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Garde hands Lyon captaincy to Gonalons

Lyon head coach Remi says Lisandro Lopez has been relieved of the club captaincy, allowing the striker to focus on playing.

French midfielder Maxime Gonalons will take the armband from Lopez after Garde accepted the 29-year-old Argentine’s request to be relieved of the responsibilities.

Lopez believed his form was suffering because of the pressure of being captain and, having scored just six goals in the opening half of the season, he is struggling to match his form over the past three seasons for Lyon.

“What I can tell you is that Lisandro came to me several times to ask me to be discharged of his responsibility as a captain,” Garde said on Thursday.

“He wants to just focus on his game.

“He doesn’t want to have this responsibility.

“I understand it wasn’t helping him to give his all on the pitch.

“I agree that it could help him. That’s the only reason why I accepted.”

Gonalons, 23, has played 120 games for Lyon across his four seasons since coming through the youth system.

The midfielder has been crucial in Lyon’s Ligue 1 title challenge, playing all but one league match in the first half of the season, with Garde’s side only goal difference behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

“Maxime Gonalons means a lot for the club,” Garde said.

“He is not a youngster anymore but he is not an old one either.

“He is now a regular international even though he knows he needs to keep working hard to stay where he is now.

“He was already vice-captain so it was a natural choice.”

Lyon travel to struggling Troyes on Saturday for their first Ligue 1 fixture since the winter break and Garde has warned his team they cannot afford to lose focus after being eliminated from the Coup de France by third-tier club Epinal last week.

“We are still feeling bad about the cup elimination to Epinal but we know what we have to do to bounce back,” Garde said.

“It’s the responsibility of the players to correct the situation before we take on Troyes.

“We expect a reaction.

“You can’t change what has happened in the past. You must act on it and move forward.”

Thu 10 January, 2013
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