Belgian top-flight club KAA Gent generated €31.5 million in the past winter transfer window, with around €29 million of that coming from Olympique Lyonnais for the transfers of Malick Fofana and Gift Orban. According to Gent CEO Michel Louwagie in an interview with the newspaper “Nieuwsblad,” Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt also made a strong effort to sign Orban until the very end.
The Hessians reportedly made three offers for the 21-year-old center forward between October and the end of the year. Orban was one of the most prolific goalscorers in 2023 with 32 goals in 51 appearances.
“We didn’t sell him last summer, even though I think we could have gotten 25 million at the time. But we set the price at over 30 million, which we couldn’t reach,” Louwagie told the newspaper. Orban’s agent informed him of the Bundesliga interest, and the player regularly inquired with the club management about the possibility of a winter transfer.
“Frankfurt offered us thirteen, fifteen and eighteen million euros including bonuses one after the other,” said the Gent boss. Louwagie himself also realized at some point that they could no longer avoid selling the attacker in the winter. “At some point Lyon came along and they offered 15 million plus 5 million bonuses plus 20 percent on a resale.” Everyone in the business understands the decision to let the player move there in such a case, “maybe only the fans a little bit.”
Instead of Orban: Eintracht Frankfurt signed Ekitiké and Kalajdzic
Orban had increased his market value to €15 million over the course of the past year and was voted player of the season in Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League by the TM community. He remained scoreless in his first two Ligue 1 appearances for Lyon. Meanwhile, Eintracht Frankfurt brought in two players for the offensive center on loan: last-minute transfer Hugo Ekitiké and ex-Stuttgart player Sasa Kalajdzic. In addition, they signed left winger Jean-Mattéo Bahoya from Angers for €8 million. In total, the Hessians spent €14.5 million in the winter transfer window.