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Big-spending PSG seek statement of intent

Big-spending Paris St Germain will be aiming to make an early statement of intent when the Ligue 1 season kicks off this weekend but much-hyped Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore is unlikely to make his debut.

A modest Lille side stunned French football last season by winning the league and cup double and though they too have spent heavily, the rise of PSG after their purchase by Qatari investors promises a much tougher fight this time round.

Other recent Paris signings such as Jeremy Menez, Mohamed Sissoko and goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu could start on Saturday at home to Lorient with striker Kevin Gameiro also set to face his former club.

Pastore, though, may have to wait as he completes his reported French record 43 million-euro ($61 million) deal from Palermo and gets used to his new team having chosen under-achieving PSG's ambitious plans to transform French football rather than joining a bigger European club.

"The sporting project is very important to me, we have talked a lot about it," Pastore told his own website (http://www.javierpastore.com).

"I am very anxious to start this new chapter."

Lille visit Nancy on Saturday hoping to quickly forget last week's 5-4 Trophy of the Champions defeat by Olympique Marseille having been 3-1 up with five minutes left.

Marseille, outstripped by PSG and Lille in the close-season transfer market despite bringing in the likes of midfielder Alou Diarra, take on Sochaux at the Stade Velodrome buoyed by beating Lille.

The other great French powerhouses, Olympique Lyon, have been relatively quiet in their dealings during the break but novice coach Remi Garde will hope to make a good impression at Nice as the side get used to life without the sacked Claude Puel.

Lyon's aim to sneak up on the rest of the pack with a refined version of last season's strong-looking side which ultimately flopped will be one of the key features of the early part of the campaign.

Evian, the highest-profile promoted club who have signed France striker Sidney Govou, travel to Stade Brest for their Ligue 1 bow.

Source: Reuters