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Roker Roundup: Current Lille owner & ex-F1 chief talks about his failed takeover of Sunderland

Gerard Lopez - the current owner of French club Lille, and former owner of the F1 team Lotus - has spoken out about how he previously had an opportunity to buy Sunderland.

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President of Ligue 1 club reveals Sunderland opportunity

The owner of Ligue 1 side Lille has revealed that he had the opportunity to takeover Sunderland while the club were under the ownership of Ellis Short.

Gerard Lopez was giving an interview to La Journal du Dimanche and when asked whether he would eventually liked to own an English club, he claimed he had the chance to buy Sunderland from Short but decided to instead purchase Lille due to a belief France has the best talent pool in the world:

I had the opportunity to buy Sunderland, then in the Premier League, which I knew the owner.

I did not do it because, in terms of project construction, I prefer to work in France, the best talent pool in the world.

No regrets.

In suffering with LOSC, I fell in love with it. I’m not Lillois, but for me it’s not a normal box, not an investment in a refinery. So much so that I could not consider another club. Some people will smile while reading this, but I do not care.

The Luxembourg-born businessman took over Lille in 2016 and was also the owner of Formula One team Lotus.

Paris Saint-Germain v Lille OSC - Ligue 1 Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Target only ever wanted to stay with Bolton

Sunderland were interested in signing Bolton Wanderers defender Harry Brockbank during the summer, with the player’s future uncertain due to the financial situation of Bolton.

The 20-year-old instead signed a new deal with Bolton and captained the team at the weekend during their 0-0 home draw with Coventry City.

Despite the interest in his services, Brockbank said that he only ever wanted to stay with his boyhood team:

My focus was on getting back here, working hard, Bolton are the only team I want to play for.

I was so happy I could sign the deal and push on for the next two years.

I wanted to stay at Bolton. I’ve been here since I was eight years old, it means everything to me.

To be captain…I wouldn’t have thought that could happen for 10 years. To have my family in the crowd to see it happen, that’s just a dream come true.

I can’t count my friends because they’re all Bolton fans who were going to be here anyway.

Bolton Wanderers v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Former Sunderland scout joins Wolves

Former Sunderland player and scout Ian Atkins has joined Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers as their European scout.

Atkins held the same role at the Stadium of Light and at one point wanted the club to sign current Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

The Croatian international was just making a name for himself at Schalke in the Bundesliga when Atkins agreed a £380,000 compensation deal which would have seen Rakitic join Sunderland, only for the board to put a stop to the transfer.

Leon Barwell Foundation Charity Football Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Another former scout in demand

Another former member of the Sunderland scouting set-up is in demand with Monaco considering Massimiliano Mirabelli for their vacant Sporting Director role, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Monaco parted company with former Chelsea Technical Director Michael Emenalo at the weekend and Mirabelli in the frame to take over.

The Italian has the support of Jorge Mendes, who has close ties with the Ligue 1 club.

Mirabelli worked at Sunderland during the ill-fated Roberto De Fanti era and has since been the Chief Scout at Inter Milan and the Sporting Director of AC Milan.

Massimo Mirabelli
Massimo Mirabelli

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