Northampton Saints blow as Louis Picamoles signs pre-contract to rejoin Montpellier after France's summer tour
Northampton Saints No 8 Louis Picamoles has signed a pre-contract agreement to rejoin Montpellier after France's tour of South Africa this summer, according to the Top 14 club's owner Mohed Altrad.
Picamoles, who joined Northampton from Toulouse on a three-year contract in 2016, played at Montpellier for five years until 2009 and Altrad is keen to ensure the 31-year-old France international returns to his former club.
"We have signed what we call a pre-contract so Louis Picamoles should join us after France's summer tour." Altrad said in a television interview with France 3. "It's important for the national team to see France players play in the Top 14."
Montpellier will have to pay a hefty fee to prise the Frenchman away from Franklin's Gardens, with Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder previously stating that Picamoles, who was voted the club's player of the year, has no release clause in his contract and will not be sold.
"Louis Picamoles signed a three-year contract, he has just done the first year and he has no get-out clause so there is no reason why Louis would be anywhere else (next season)," Mallinder said. "I don't think Northampton have ever been a selling club... I am sure that is the way we will be. We want to keep all our good players."
Media reports also suggest the French Rugby Federation (FFR) is eager to sign Picamoles on a special central contract.
South Africa will host France in a three-Test series starting on June 10 in Pretoria, followed by matches in Durban (June 17) and Johannesburg (June 24).