Paris - Barring a last-minute surprise, the winter transfer window will close on Monday without a major signing as French clubs remain cautious in tough economic times.
Even big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, whose ambitions are slowed by Financial Fair Play sanctions, did not invest a single euro on new players after selling midfielder Clement Chantome to Bordeaux for a reported fee of €750 000.
French league leader Lyon, who has been relying on its reservoir of homegrown players to climb to the top of the standings this season, bet long term with the purchase of up-and-coming Metz forward Maxwel Cornet.
The 18-year-old striker signed a four-and-a-half year deal worth €200 000, plus a percentage of any future transfer fees.
After investing more than €400 million in its future stadium, Lyon's main task was to retain striker Alexandre Lacazette, the league's top scorer with 21 goals.
The France forward's strong performances have prompted interest from big European clubs such as Manchester City and Arsenal, but Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas convinced him to stay at least until the end of the current term.
"We have invested more than €400 million in a new stadium," Aulas said.
"Selling our best players, who could help us play the Champions League in this stadium, would be the negation of our strategy."
With French clubs struggling to attract the biggest names and putting the brakes on their spendings, the arrival of Hatem Ben Arfa at Nice grabbed the spotlight, but the former France midfielder has to wait until next season to start playing under FIFA's transfer rules.
Ben Arfa joined the southern club last month, but FIFA refused to give him clearance to play because a player cannot appear for more than two clubs in the same season.
The 27-year-old Ben Arfa played for Newcastle in an under-21 match in August last year before moving to Hull on loan.
Monaco, who let its star players Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez leave during the 2014 summer window in a dramatic change of development strategy, signed on a permanent deal the 20-year-old Bernardo Silva, who had spent the past six months on loan in the Principality.
Monaco also secured the arrival on loan of Brazilian striker Matheus Carvalho from Atletico Barra da Tijuc.
Monaco, which is also facing a UEFA probe for overspending on player transfers and wages as part of the Financial Fair Play, sent defender Borja Lopez on loan to Deportivo La Coruna and remained in talks with Marseille over the possible departure of winger Lucas Ocampos.