Another excellent Ligue 1 season is drawing to its close, with many issues at the top and bottom of the table. While the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have dominated the headlines with their excellent form, there a number of players who have surprised fans and observers alike with their form.
The majority of the clubs in the French top flight do not possess the spending power of Paris Saint-Germain, and therefore have to rely on aging veterans and untested youngsters, who enjoy varying levels of success in one of Europe's most diverse divisions.
The performance of these players can often define a club's season, and this has certainly been the case this term, with a number of individuals unexpectedly inspiring their sides to success.
Here are five the most surprising stars of the Ligue 1 season.
One of France's most highly rated prospects, many will have expected Lucas Digne to develop into an excellent defender. However, few will have anticipated such a rapid rise for the young left-back.
The 19-year-old has become a mainstay in Rudi Garcia's side, integrating himself as part of a young team that has recovered from a difficult start to put themselves in contention for a Champions League place.
Strong in the air and composed with the ball at his feet, Digne is an extremely intelligent football whose presence has helped Les Dogues shore up their rearguard and become a more vibrant attacking side with his pace and superb delivery from the left flank.
The France under-20 international may have only scored once in his 27 league appearances this term, but if he can continue to perform in the same manner, then he could well be able to help Lille secure their place in the top three and enable Garcia to build another successful outfit at the Grand Stade Metropole.
Rennes' league form may have hit a slump in recent times, but the performances of Julien Feret played a big role in their early season form and march to the Coupe de la Ligue Final.
The 30-year-old has enjoyed another superb season, playing in the center of a dynamic attacking midfield trio which also contained Romain Alessandrini and Burkina Faso's Jonathan Pitroipa.
Both Pitroipa and Alessandrini performed excellently in the first half of the campaign, and although the latter's cruciate ligament injury has derailed the Bretons' top-six challenge, the displays that Feret has produced this campaign cannot be downplayed.
Feret has been nothing short of prolific from his position behind the main striker, netting 10 times—often in spectacular fashion—and laying on five assists for his teammates.
The veteran's ability to produce the goods on a consistent basis has been a pleasant surprise for the fans at the Stade de Route de Lorient, and if he can continue to perform to the standard he is capable of, Rennes will be able to celebrate a relatively satisfactory season.
Signed from Ajax for just over £1 million, Dario Cvitanich came to Nice with little expected of the South American striker.
The 28-year-old failed to establish himself at the Amsterdam Arena, but has since flourished following his move the Cote D'Azur.
A lack of opportunities defined his time in the Dutch capital, but after being given the chance to head the attack at the Stade du Ray, the Argentinian's career has gained new life.
Cvitanich has scored 14 goals in 23 league appearances, a run of form which has propelled Claude Puel's men to the fifth place and kept them in the running for Champions League qualification.
A lengthy injury lay-off somewhat curtailed Nice's charge towards the top three, but with the forward now fully fit and once again back among the goals following strikes in wins over Toulouse and Sochaux, Puel's charges undoubtedly have the firepower to finish their season by clinching their place among Europe's elite.
After disappointing at a number of clubs throughout his career, Anthony Modeste looks to have finally found a home at Bastia.
The 24-year-old, on loan from Bordeaux, was highly rated after coming through the Nice academy, but has never been to deliver on his potential. That is, until he opted to move to Corsica following a poor campaign with Blackburn Rovers.
Few expected Modeste to make any sort of impact in a side anticipated to be involved in a relegation dogfight, but his resurgence has been consistent with the form of Frederic Hantz's free-scoring side, which has scored 43 times and has eyes on a top-half finish after a strong sequence of recent results.
Modeste has delivered 12 of those goals, and while the opportunity to play alongside Florian Thauvin and Wahbi Khazri has helped rejuvenate his career, he will likely be under pressure to show that can replicate the same form next season.
It remains to be seen whether Modeste's performances have convinced the Bordeaux hierarchy to keep him at the Stade Chaban Delmas, but even if he is let go by the 2009 champions, the forward will likely have a number of suitors as a result of his powerful showings for a side that has surpassed all expectations.
No one expected this. Considered a failure by so many after unsuccessful spells with Arsenal, Celtic and Middlesbrough, Jeremie Aliadiere has returned to Ligue 1 with huge success.
Not renowned for his finishing ability, the 30-year-old has been arguably the surprise of the season, scoring 14 times for a Lorient side that has been hit by injuries for much of the season.
The men from Brittany have not really managed to threaten the top six despite the forward's renaissance. However, his presence has given Christian Gourcuff's side an attacking edge following the loss of Kevin Gameiro to PSG in 2011.
Now after silencing the naysayers Aliadiere has his eyes on silverware, as his sumptuous finish in the Coupe De France Quarter-Final gave Les Merlus victory at Saint-Etienne and put them within touching distance of a cup final.
A win at the Stade de France would be considered a huge success for a player who has enjoyed a difficult career, but his resurrection under Gourcuff's stewardship can already be considered a triumph for this much maligned striker.