PARIS: Paul Le Guen has stepped down as coach of Olympique Lyon, a day after leading the club to a fourth consecutive French Division One title.
I have decided not to extend my contract with Olympique Lyon, Le Guen told a news conference yesterday.
I was offered the chance to stay for three more years but I decided not to carry on here, said Le Guen, whose current deal ends on June 30.
The 41-year-old joined Lyon in 2002 after the club had claimed the first title in their history, taking over from Jacques Santini who was appointed France coach.
Le Guen, who coached Stade Rennes between 1998 and 2001, led Lyon to three Ligue 1 titles, including the one they clinched on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over AC Ajaccio.
Im leaving this club happy and proud of what we have achieved, Le Guen said. I want to thank the chairman Jean-Michel Aulas, the entire staff and the players with whom I have spent three wonderful years.
I wish all the best to this team. And if they can do even better in the future Ill be sincerely pleased and happy for them.
I could have stayed for a fifth title but its the life of any sportsman to set himself new challenges.
Le Guen said he had no plans for the immediate future.
Media reports have linked him with Paris St Germain but he has clearly said he would not return to his former club. He said he would be interested in coaching abroad.
I dont know what Im going to do next, said Le Guen. The only thing Im certain is that Im not tired of soccer. Im open to any offers.
Former Nantes and Real Sociedad coach Raynald Denoueix, Lazlo Boloni of Rennes and Lilles Claude Puel are among the favourites to take over at Lyon.
We want to hire someone like Paul. Someone who is highly experienced both as a coach and as a player, club chairman Jean-Michel Aulas said.
We are looking for someone who has played in the Champions League because it is one of our aims for next season. We want someone ambitious as Lyon are a club with great ambitions.
Aulas confirmed that Lyon, who signed a deal with Korean technology giant LG on Sunday, are going to increase their budget for next season.
He said his club aim to win the Champions League after reaching the last eight twice in a row.
I can understand Pauls decision, said Aulas.
We are now going to try and bounce back. Its quite stimulating for the whole staff as we will have to find new solutions to carry on.
Before the news conference, Le Guen had summoned his players to tell them personally that he had decided to leave.
The decision may be regarded by some as a blow for the team.
Goalkeeper Gregory Coupet, who has been part of Lyons four victorious campaigns, last month ran a petition asking for Le Guen to stay. Reuters