January Transfer Window: 7 Must Sign Ligue 1 Players
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Forget Eden Hazard, Yann M'Vila, Loic Remy, Marvin Martin, and other widely touted Ligue 1 players on the move—the guys on this list are the real must-sign players from France's top-flight.
The list does feature an FC Sochaux player apart from the one above, as well as a left-back good enough to fix Arsenal's problems, and a defensive midfielder worthy of filling Lucas Leiva's boots at Liverpool.
It also includes a star striker who would delight Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur, a genius in-form playmaker that would solve Manchester United's creativity crisis, a hardened up versatile defender to replace Steven Taylor at Newcastle United, and a man linked with a switch between Chelsea and Dijon who isn't Gael Kakuta.
These players would be suitable not only in the Premier League, but in Serie A, La Liga, the Bundesliga, or any other world football league operating within a January transfer window.
So here are the seven must-sign Ligue 1 players.
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Ryad Boudebouz has emerged as one of the most exciting wingers in Ligue 1 this season—yes, even as exciting as Eden Hazard.
A very fast player, the 21-year-old Sochaux midifelder has huge potential, and is starting to show it this campaign after scoring five goals, making four assists, and winning three man of the match awards from the wing.
He's an excellent dribbler of the ball, and given that he creates at least two direct goalscoring chances for teammates every game, his assist tally would be much higher if he played at a better club, meaning the Algeria international is a talent crying out to be tried at a higher level.
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Another less-celebrated North African star, Aymen Abdennour has long since been attracting interest from Arsenal and Stoke City.
The 22-year-old Toulouse left-back has been in great form this season for both his club and country (Tunisia).
Whilst he's not the best full-back defensively, Abdennour is one of the best in Ligue 1 at being strong in the air and clearing his lines, the two most important things for any Premier League defender.
But what really sets this man apart is his playmaking ability from left-back, as he hits at least three accurate long balls per game, making him able to set his wingers free for a cross, run into the penalty area, or shot on goal.
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Maxime Gonalons is another Ligue 1 player long since linked with Arsenal. However, given Lucas Leiva's injury, he'd be a great addition at Liverpool.
A darling of the Lyon academy, Gonalons has finally emerged as an established player for the club, with the 22-year-old being the midfielder that holds the team together.
So far this season, the steel-edged France international has stopped opponents getting into his final third on over 100 occasions, i.e. he makes on average four tackles per game and three key interceptions.
He makes a bigger defensive contribution combined than most in the Premier League or Serie A, and that combined with his ability to spread the play like butter (85 percent pass success rate, five accurate long balls per game), makes him a must-sign player.
Olivier Giroud is scoring in the places where goals have dried up for others in Ligue 1 this season.
The 25-year-old striker is having his breakout season on a Montpellier team which is also having theirs.
He's scored 13 league goals and made five assists this term, meaning he's made a direct contribution in almost half the goals his team has scored this season, and has technically made a 100 percent goalscoring contribution relative to the matches he's played (Giroud has 18 appearances this season).
A very tall and strong striker, he's also statistically one of the best in Europe in the air, and has proven his huge importance to Montpellier by winning five man of the match awards this campaign.
Forget that alleged £40 million price tag, Giroud is a must-sign man and could be on the move if a decent offer comes in.
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Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is other must steal player from Montpellier.
The 22-year-old no-nonsense defender is tough but largely accurate in the tackle, and cuts out opposition play better than most defenders in Europe.
He may not be the strongest in the air, but he's able to clear his lines quickly, and more often than not with great efficiency, turning a simple request to "kick it out!" from a teammate to an accurate long ball for another.
Linked with a move to Newcastle United, and it could happen given what he's told the media.
"Newcastle United are interested? Well it means my performances have crossed the country.
"My dream league has always been the Premier League, so you never know."
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Benjamin Corgnet has been the reason why AC Ajaccio and not FCO Dijon are rooted to the bottom of the Ligue 1 table.
Corgnet, who has been linked with Chelsea, has been in sensational form this season, scoring seven goals and making an assist from central midfield.
The 24-year-old isn't the best passer around, but is one of the strongest midfielders in Europe in the air, and often uses his stellar aerial ability, combined with his excellent dribbling skills, to drive the play forward and start wave after wave of attack.
A player in the mould of Frank Lampard with his direct approach to playmaking, Corgnet could even be the man to replace him at Stamford Bridge.
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Mathieu Valbuena is entering the athletic and performance peak of his career, and it shows.
The 27-year-old Marseille magic midfielder has scored four goals, made nine assists and won four man of the match awards in 13 starts, and is currently the best in Ligue 1 at creating direct goalscoring chances for teammates, hitting 3.2 key passes per game.
Everything he touches seems to be turning to gold at the moment, and if only the Marseille forwards were any good at finishing, Valbuena would have easily doubled his assists tally.
Such is his playmaking form right now, he should be snapped up immediately by a big club with great forwards who just need a playmaker to start it all off.
Hint hint, Manchester United.