Jacky Lorenzetti has admitted defeat in Racing 92’s ambitious plan to secure the services of Maro Itoje next season. With Saracens set for demotion to the Championship for repeated breaches of the Gallagher Premiership salary cap, Racing made a play to bring the England and Lions second row to the Top 14 for a season.

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The reported seven-figure loan deal sparked a row among other Premiership owners who were unwillingly to allow Itoje play for a club abroad and still represent England. 

This was despite national team coach Eddie Jones being apparently amenable to allowing his star lock spend a year in the French league and still be available to play for the 2019 World Cup finalists during the 2020/21 Test calendar window. 

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Ellis Genge takes on Denis Buckley in the quarter-finals of the RugbyPass FIFA charity tournament

The loan deal report first emerged on March 13, the same weekend England were due to play away to Italy in the now deferred conclusion to the Guinness Six Nations. 

Now, nearly four weeks later, Lorenzetti has accepted that his bold attempt to sign one of the stars of the world game has been scuppered. 

“We saw it, yes. It makes you dream,” said the Racing president in the latest edition of Midi Olympique, the French rugby bi-weekly publication. 

“We are very close to the ceiling of the salary cap. And then, we are already very well off in the second row with (Donnacha) Ryan, (Dominic) Bird, (Boris) Palu… finally, there were complex agreements on this file with Saracens.

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“I do not say that the club who signs Itoje next year will not respect the salary cap but hey… the conditions were special. In any case, he will not be with us.”

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