10 Most Meaningful Ligue 1 Transfers so Far This Summer

Jonathan JohnsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2013

10 Most Meaningful Ligue 1 Transfers so Far This Summer

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    So far this summer, Ligue 1 has been dominated by newly promoted financial heavyweights Monaco with Paris Saint-Germain firmly taking a backseat.

    Although PSG are expected to make a splash shortly with Laurent Blanc now firmly installed as the club’s replacement for Carlo Ancelotti, Les Monegasques’ impressive captures will be hard to beat.

    Outside of the pair there has been a small amount of activity, but once again Ligue 1 is underlining its reputation as a centre of smart business with some excellent business being done.

    Here are 10 of the most meaningful transfers from the French top-flight so far.

Morgan Sanson to Montpellier

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    Just three years ago, Le Mans were still in Ligue 1 and awaiting the completion and opening of their shiny new MMArena so that they could leave the Stade Leon-Bollee.

    Now, the club have relegated to the amateur divisions of French football after the heartbreak of final day relegation from Ligue 2 last season.

    Famed for their fruitful youth academy and recently voted the country’s 14th best for the 2012-13 season by the French Football Federation (via foot-national.com in French), the club will have to rely on their home grown talent in the next few years.

    One recent academy graduate who will not be able to help them though is Morgan Sanson, a talented French under-19 international midfielder.

    The 18-year-old has joined Montpellier, who recently sold enigmatic playmaker Younes Belhanda to Dynamo Kiev, and the youngster is set for his first taste of top-flight football.

Gael Danic to Lyon

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    Lyon pulled off a massive reverse transfer coup when they sold Croatian defender Dejan Lovren to Southampton for 10 million Euros (via ESPN FC).

    That money almost single-handedly helped them break even for the financial year, with the club listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.

    However with an end of June deadline, the club were forced into selling talented youngster Anthony Martial.

    But more on him later.

    What has been overlooked though is Lyon’s signing of Gael Danic from Valenciennes for a small fee as he approached the last year of his contract.

    OL acted fast to snare the talented midfielder, who had the third-best assists tally in Ligue 1 last season, and the 31-year-old arrived on a two-year contract.

Raphael Guerreiro to Lorient

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    Always a club to approach their transfer dealings intelligently, FC Lorient announced an impressive coup in signing talented Franco-Portuguese defender Raphael Guerreiro from second tier Caen.

    The 19-year-old left back is a promising talent and there was plenty of interest in his signature, but Loic Fery and Christian Gourcuff ambitions for the Breton club and enterprising approach to transfers secured the deal.

    Expected to make the starting left-sided defensive berth his own in short time, expect Guerreiro to be making waves on the Western coast of France this coming season.

Anthony Martial to Monaco

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    The same can be said of young striker Anthony Martial who joins Monaco for five million Euros from Lyon, a fee widely believed to be an absolute bargain.

    Les Monegasques acted quickly when it became clear that Bafetimbi Gomis had no intention of making his exit from the Stade Gerland easy, according to ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman.

    Because of OL’s pressing need to balance the booksby 5 million Eurosbefore the end of the fiscal year given their listing on the Paris Stock Exchange, the Principality outfit swooped to sign the 17-year-old sensation.

    Although he will face a difficult task to break into the Monaco first team immediately, given the calibre of some of the club’s new arrivals, the French youth international is viewed as a bright prospect for the future.

Florian Thauvin to Lille

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    French under-20 international sensation Florian Thauvin completed his long-awaited transfer from Bastia to Lille at the start of the month.

    A deal had been in place since January and the 20-year-old was happy to join Les Dogues, but the exit of coach Rudi Garcia and the club’s failure to qualify for European competition led to a change of heart according to ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman.

    The club are determined to hang on to their new bargain, and Thauvin is expected to star in the coming season as Lille look to overcome the loss of Dimitri Payet and the expected departure of Lucas Digne.

Nampalys Mendy to Nice

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    Monaco’s Nampalys Mendy, a French under-21 international midfielder, was one of the first casualties of the arrivals of Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez at the Stade Louis II.

    The 20-year-old played a major role in the Principality outfit’s promotion from Ligue 2, and was also courted by Premier League giants Manchester United he told L’Equipe (h/t ESPN FC).

    However, he had signed a pre-contract agreement before the end of the season with Ligue 1 overachievers Nice and eventually completed his move across the Cote d’Azur.

    The signing of Mendy is a massive coup for Claude Puel’s side and a welcome boost after the tragic news that midfielder Kevin Anin will never play football again after an horrendous car crash.

Dimitri Payet to Marseille

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    Florian Thauvin’s arrival at Lille enabled the club to offload one of its top earners, Dimitri Payet, who they could not afford to keep without European football.

    The French international, Ligue 1’s only play to hit double figures in goals and assists last season (12 of each), was keen to continue his progress with continental competition.

    Marseille acted fast and secured the signing of the 26-year-old wing wizard who cited the 2014 World Cup as a motivating factor, as reported by ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman.

    The move is a statement of ambition from OM, who have so far managed to keep their most talented stars at the club, ahead of the coming season.

Joao Moutinho to Monaco

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    One of the three biggest signings in Ligue 1 so far this summer has been Monaco’s Joao Moutinho.

    The Portuguese signed for the newly promoted financial heavyweights before they had even secured the Ligue 2 title, but his signing was only a taste of things to come.

    As well as securing the coveted playmaker from Portuguese giants Porto, who according to ESPN FC had been attracting Spurs, the side from the Principality announced a massive double coup with James Rodriguez signing too.

James Rodriguez to Monaco

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    The 21-year-old Colombian international, often though of as one of the most underrated stars in European football over the past two seasons, joined Les Monegasques as the second third of a trio of stellar signings.

    According to ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman, the joint deal for the Porto duo cost Monaco around 70 million Euros.

    But Ligue 1’s most important transfer to-date this summer was yet to come…

Falcao to Monaco

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    Seven days later, the Principality outfit made the announcement that they had completed the signing of the coveted Atletico Madrid and Colombian international marksman Radamel Falcao for 60 million Euros.

    The coup in snaring the 27-year-old predator made waves in Europe with a host of top sides beaten to his signature.

    Reportedly set to earn 14 million Euros per year according to ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman, the former Porto man is on a par with Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    Falcao will now be expected to lead Monaco to an immediate title challenge, something that won’t be as easy as some people are making it out to be given Ligue 1’s competitive nature.

Edinson Cavani to PSG?

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    The signing that could top them all, however, is that of Napoli striker Edinson Cavani who has recently been linked with a move to Monaco’s heavyweight rivals and current French champions Paris Saint-Germain (h/t/ ESPN FC).

    According to those reports, the Uruguayan international’s agent has held talks with PSG sporting director Leonardo.

    British media reports also suggest that the Ligue 1 holders have made a bid that exceeds the offer that is on the table from Premier League side Chelsea (h/t Sky Sports).

    PSG coach Laurent Blanc admitted on Wednesday, officially his third day in charge of the capital side, he “would be happy” if the club could snare Cavani from Napoli (via ESPN FC).

    Is the 27-year-old set to be the next star talent added to Ligue 1’s impressive array of top names ahead of the coming season?

    To be decided.