Montpellier keen to lure Picamoles back from Northampton
May 16 (Reuters) - Northampton Saints back row Louis Picamoles has signed a pre-contract agreement to rejoin Montpellier after France's tour of South Africa next month, the Top 14 club's owner Mohed Altrad has said.
Picamoles, who joined Premiership side 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 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."
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder previously stated that Picamoles, who was voted as the club's Player of the Year after recording a competition-high 40 offloads, had no release clause in his contract and would 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 told British media earlier this month.
"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) were 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). (Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien)