Right thing to do, Steve

Wednesday 29 August 2001

French National Team Coach Roger Lemerre has applauded Steve Marlet's decision to quit the Championnat for the Premiership.

Lemerre believes the move can only enhance the striker's already blossoming career saying: "He will progress at Fulham"

Critics in France suggested Marlet might be taking a risk leaving Lyon and swapping Champions' League football and a chance to win the French league for the rough and tumble of the English Premiership.

But Lemerre gave Marlet the go ahead from Santiago where Jean Tigana's latest addition is due to join up with France squad on Wednesday for the friendly with Chile on Saturday.

"For me it's a plus for Steve, even though he continued his progression at Lyon," Lemerre said.

"I have been aware of the situation for a while, and I talked to Steve and to Jean Tigana about it. The move doesn't open the door to the France team any wider, but it doesn't close it either."

In the past, Lemerre has suggested that players' chances of earning international recognition would be enhanced if, like Sabri Lamouchi and Claude Makelele, they decided to play abroad.

Former Auxerre striker Marlet will consider Fulham as the perfect stage from which to add to his five caps and win a place in the France squad for the World Cup finals next summer.

The £11.5 million capture of Marlet, follows the earlier recruitment of Steed Malbranque from the Stade Gerland.

Despite attempts to keep Marlet at Lyon general manager Bernard Lacombe said it was not possible to hold on to the striker, who had been made an offer that was difficult to refuse.

"You can't keep a player against his will," Lacombe said. "Juventus let Zidane go."

"It's a good move for Steve," Lacombe added. "By the time he is 31 he will be set up for life. It's hard to refuse."

To replace Marlet, Lyon, who also signed Nantes playmaker Eric Carriere on Tuesday and loaned out Vikash Dhorasoo to Bordeaux, are expected to turn to Strasbourg striker Pegguy Luyindula.