Matic in, Doku out for the visitors?

RC Lens – Stade Rennais FC


– Kick-off: 18:45 GMT




It has been a busy summer of transfers at both clubs, with hosts Lens losing last season’s top scorer Loïs Openda to RB Leipzig and captain Seko Fofana to Al-Nassr in recent weeks, with Morgan Guilavogui (from Paris FC) and Andy Diouf (Basel) signed to replace them.


They both started last Sunday as Lens kicked off the new campaign away to Stade Brestois 29, but despite racing into a 2-0 lead, they were ultimately beaten 3-2 with former Rennes man Romain Del Castillo scoring a pair of penalties either side of a Kenny Lala strike.


New ownership?


A consortium of local investors are reportedly ready to inject significant sums into les Sang et Or ahead of what will be a first UEFA Champions League campaign in 21 years, but manager Franck Haise has warned that his side won’t have things easy, even if there are more reinforcements to come.


Watch: Highlights of Lens’ 3-2 loss to Brest


“In the eyes of other clubs, we’re no longer the side that was promoted three years ago,” he said. “But we don’t say to ourselves that because we finished second last season that everything’s going to go our way this. We’re not playing with medals around our necks.”

Haise will have to introduce some new players to his line up on Sunday whether he likes it or not. Jonathan Gradit pulled up with a hamstring injury against Brest and Massadio Haïdara, his replacement at the Stade Francis-Le Blé, should start from the off. Adrien Thomasson, another second-half substitute, was sent off and is suspended.


Matic leads midfield reinforcements


Rennes have pulled off a coup ins signing Matic, meanwhile – a two-time Premier League winner with Chelsea who most recently played under Jose Mourinho at Roma. He is joined by Enzo Le Fée (formerly FC Lorient) and Ludovic Blas (FC Nantes) Roazhon Park this summer.


With Lesley Ugochukwu and Lovro Majer leaving for Chelsea and Wolfsburg respectively and Doku potentially joining them in leaving, for Man City, midfield reinforcements were needed. Le Fée made his debut against FC Metz last Sunday, and hit the ground running in a 5-1 win.


Watch: Highlights of Rennes’ 5-1 win over Metz


“I’m very happy the team played with goof attacking intentions, movement and variety in the game,” said Haise’s opposite number Bruno Génésio. ” And scoring five goals is always very satisfying. And winning the first game too, because it doesn’t happen often.


Doku deliberation


“It all depends on the bid,” he said, turning his attention to Doku. “Some offers are hard to turn down, and that’s true for everyone in football. We’re not there yet, though. I have no news. He is a Rennes player, and until proven otherwise, we can use him.”


If Doku does leave, Blas will compete with star academy graduate Désiré Doué for the right to join Arnau Kalimuendo and Amine Gouiri in the final third, but Martin Terrier – so prolific for Rennes two seasons ago – remains sidelined with an ACL injury. Full-back Adrien Truffert has a twisted ankle, meanwhile.


Matic could take Baptiste Santamaria’s place at the base of midfield, but Génésio is unlikely to change much after Rennes’ impressive start to the season.


Possible teams


Lens: Samba – Haïdara, Danso, Medina – Frankowski, Abdul Samed, Diouf, Machado – Sotoca, Fulgini – Guilavogui


Rennes: Mandanda – Assignon, Omari, Theate, Belocian – Bourigeaud, Matic, Le Fée – Blas, Kalimuendo, Gouiri

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