City's reported £15m summer target will become a Premier League player in the future, Lorient president predicts
PUBLISHED: 14:04 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:04 01 October 2019
Lorient's president has predicted that Alexis-Claude Maurice will become a Premier League player in the future, following interest from Norwich City and West Ham this summer.
Reports from France suggested the Premier League rivals were competing for the 21-year-old forward during the closing stages of the summer transfer window, with some media outlets even claiming the Canaries had agreed a 'substantial' bid.
Eventually the forward, who usually plays on the left, joined Ligue Un club Nice for around £13m and is now playing regularly for Patrick Vieira's side in the French top flight.
However, Loic Fery, president of second-tier side Lorient, has been discussing Maurice's prospects following his move to Nice - who were bought out for £91m this summer by Britain's wealthiest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
The France U20 international scored 14 goals in 35 games in Ligue Deux last season to prompt his Premier League suitors, although its understood from sources close to City that a fee was never agreed, with other reports at the time suggesting West Ham had a £9m bid rejected.
"He felt that he needed a sort of intermediate step before going into the Premier League," Fery told Le Telegramme. "We had two firm bids from two Premier League sides, which I think is not a secret, West Ham and then Norwich later on, who basically made competing offers.
"So I guess, I don't want to speak for him, but he made the career choice to go through a club like Nice and feel that he would be able, especially with the ambition that the club has and the new owner (Sir Jim) Ratcliffe, he feels that that club will be in a position to compete at the highest level in Europe and he will pursue his development over there.
"I think of all the talents that we have seen and the efficiency that made him the best player in Ligue Deux last year, I wouldn't be surprised if you see him in the Premier League in the next few years."
The Canaries' interest in Maurice coincided with the signing of Ibrahim Amdou, who had made his name in France with Lille, with the defensive midfielder signed on a season-long loan from Spanish side Sevilla with a view to a potential £9m permanent deal.
It could have proved an extremely helpful transfer for Norwich, had it been completed, given that winger Onel Hernandez was ruled out with a long-term knee injury during the early weeks of the season - slipping on the stairs at home and being ruled out until after Christmas.