- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

PARIS (AP) - Under new ownership and banking on rebuilding the club with talented young players, Lille signed six players aged 23 or under on Tuesday’s final day of the transfer window.

While most French clubs were quiet, with little notable transfer activity, Lille had a very busy day freshening up its squad with some promising players.

Dutch strikers Anwar El Ghazi, Paraguay left back Junior Alonso and Brazilian defender Gabriel all joined on 4 1/2-year deals. Attacking midfielder Fares Bahlouli joined from Monaco on a 3 ½-year deal, while Portuguese midfielder Xeka and Dutch forward Ricardo Kishna joined on loan until the end of the season. Both loan moves, however, are with an option to buy.

El Ghazi, who can either play in a lone striker’s role or wide, joined from Ajax. Financial details of the deals were not disclosed, but sports daily L’Equipe said El Ghazi was bought for 7 million euros ($7.4 million).

Lille, which is in 11th place and has one of the worst attacks Ligue 1 with only 21 goals in 22 games, made the 21-year-old El Ghazi a priority. He is likely to team up with Yassine Benzia in a young and promising attack.

The 23-year-old Alonso has nine international caps, and joins from Paraguayan club Cerro Porteno, while the 19-year-old Gabriel signed from second division Brazilian club Avai. The 21-year-old Bahlouli came through Lyon’s reputed youth academy before joining Monaco last season, but he made only eight league appearances.

The 22-year-old Kishna joins from Lazio, where he scored twice in Serie A last season, while Xeka - who is also 22 - joins from Portuguese club Braga.

In the past, French league leader Monaco has earned significant sums in transfer fees by drawing on a vast scouting network that targets young players with a potential sell-on value.

That focus on young players also seems to be shared by Lille’s new owner Gerard Lopez, the president of the finance group Genii Capital and formerly president of the Lotus Formula One team.

Lopez recently took over from Michel Seydoux, a French businessman and film producer, who had been the club president since 2002.

Lille qualified six times for the Champions League during Seydoux’s tenure and clinched the league and cup double in 2011. But results have dropped and the club’s youth system - which produced players such as Chelsea star Eden Hazard and France midfielder Yohan Cabaye - has not been so successful in recent years.

To make way for the four new arrivals, Lille offloaded two players.

Veteran Mounir Obbadi has left on a free transfer to Nice, which did not specify the duration of the 33-year-old Morocco midfielder’s contract.

Forward Ryan Mendes joined Turkish club Kayserispor on a 3 ½-year deal.

The biggest signings during the French transfer window were made by Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Marseille.

PSG signed Germany winger Julian Draxler from Wolfsburg earlier this month; Lyon got Netherland winger Memphis Depay from Manchester Unied, while France playmaker Dimitri Payet forced a move from West Ham to re-join his former club Marseille.

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