Sheffield Wednesday manager Stuart Gray is looking forward to a healthy relationship between his club and French Ligue 1 side RC Lens, after the successful takeover of the Owls by Hafiz Mammadov, according to BBC Sport.
Mammadov, who already owns RC Lens, became owner of the Sheffield based club earlier this month. Gray is hoping that his side will be able to benefit from the link and bring over players that could have an impact in the Championship.
RC Lens gained promotion back to Ligue 1 after coming second in Ligue 2 last year, having been edged out of top spot by FC Metz. Mammadov took over the club in 2013, making it his second club. He also owns FC Baku in the Azerbaijan Premier League, as well as having shares in Atletico Madrid and FC Porto.
Whilst Lens have struggled to reach successful Ligue 1 status in the last few years, they have become well known due to their successful academy which has produced the likes of Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, QPR and former Tottenham left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto as well as teammate Abel Taarabt, who had played at AC Milan since January on loan. Jimmy Kebe of Crystal Palace came through the academy as well as Serge Aurier, who is currently a target for several Premier League clubs including Arsenal and Manchester United.
Promising up and coming players include Gael Kakuta, currently at Chelsea as well as Thorgan Hazard, the younger brother of the Blues' Eden Hazard.
The transfer of players between clubs with joint ownership is quite common in the Championship, with the latest club to benefit from it being Charlton, who signed five players in the January window from several clubs that their owner, Roland Duchatelet, currently has control over.
Sheffield Wednesday will be looking to add to their squad after struggling with the fixture list towards the end of the season, with a depleted squad and several players over 30. Gray is hoping that Lens will provide a couple of their young promising stars to add the quality and aspect of youth to his squad.
It will also provide some of the promising academy players at Lens a chance to play in English football and give them the opportunity to showcase what they can do, which could lead to a move to a bigger club. The link could see young players from the Sheffield club move in the opposite direction to experience top level French football.
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