The 2011-2012 season was a magical run for Montpellier. Everything aligned for them to beat Paris Saint-Germain to the title. Montpellier reached the top of Ligue 1 through a combination of young talent, experience and club stability. With their goal achieved, Montpellier now faces a summer of transition as their top players are being pursued by some of the top teams in Europe.
Reports are linking Montpellier’s scorer supreme Olivier Giroud with a move to Arsenal. Giroud led Ligue 1 with 21 strikes during a run of tremendous form. His physical size and style of play is seen as a perfect fit for the Premier League. With Arsene Wenger’s track record for bringing in French players, and several French players at the club, Arsenal appears to be ahead in the race for his signature.
Losing Giroud is inevitable for Montpellier. The buyout in his contract will easily be met by one of the clubs chasing him. Besides Giroud, Montpellier has other talented players who are being sought after as well.
Midfielder Younes Belhanda has been the creative force in the center of the pitch for Montpellier. His skill set has been likened to Chelsea FC’s Eden Hazard. The Moroccon international has tremendous vision and technical ability. Despite some moments of losing his cool on the pitch, Belhanda has drawn interest from Manchester City among others. Montpellier coach Rene Girard has stated they will try and hold onto Belhanda this summer.
Montpellier Captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is the heart of the defense. The center-back has been the center of several transfer rumors. Manchester United, and Arsenal are two of the teams rumored to be tracking the talented defender. Mbiwa can play anywhere on defense and was one of the last cuts from the French team for Euro 2012.
Despite their efforts, Montpellier may possibly lose all three of these key components this summer. Despite the blow to the strength of the squad, there are still solid players in the lineup. With the money received from these transfers and Champions League revenue, look for Montpellier to invest wisely to try and fill the holes and add depth.
Giroud’s replacement may come as part of his transfer if Arsenal throws in out of favor Marouane Chamakh. Chamakh had a great deal of success at Bordeaux prior to his move to Arsenal. Pairing him with John Utaka and Souleymane Camara will provide a solid core of attacking options.
Replacing their midfield engine, and the centerpiece of their defense may be the most difficult task. While they may struggle to remain contenders, expect them to go down fighting, champions always do.