Struggling Nantes lure Barthez from retirement

December 16, 2006

PARIS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Former France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez will join Nantes to help them in their bid to escape relegation, the Ligue 1 strugglers confirmed on Saturday.

'He has not signed yet but it is something that will happen in the next few days,' Nantes president Rudi Roussillon said.

Barthez, 35, had announced his retirement in October.

A prominent member of France's 1998 World Cup-winning side and the team who reached the final in Germany this year, he has been without a club since leaving Olympique Marseille at the end of last season.

'Fabien Barthez has a strong wish to return to competitive football,' Roussillon said. 'This is a great challenge for him and for us. To have somebody like Fabien Barthez joining us is a fantastic opportunity'.

The former Manchester United goalkeeper was expected to sign a six-month contract.

Nantes have however dismissed media reports they had asked former France defender Laurent Blanc to become their coach.

'I don't know where this false information came from,' Roussillon said. 'I have never contacted Laurent Blanc, nor has anybody at the club.'

Nantes are second from bottom in Ligue 1. They drew 0-0 with Girondins Bordeaux on Saturday.