This article looks at the five best transfers in the French Ligue 1 during the summer window.
Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco may have stolen all of the international headlines, but, as this piece demonstrates, the clubs up and down the league have been busy making intriguing acquisitions in an attempt to bolster their fortunes ahead of the season to come.
Read on to discover some of the key moves and pivotal signings in the Gallic top flight this summer. As you’ll soon see, it’s not all about the glitz and the glamour of the Riviera or the City of Light.
This summer Marseille have acquired two players from Lille, both of whom have the potential to have a major impact on OM’s season.
French international Dimitri Payet and prodigious midfielder Florian Thauvin both arrive on the Cote d’Azur with baggage, but either man could have the capacity to lead Marseille’s charge against Ligue 1’s new money.
In fairness, similar things were written two years ago when Payet made his move from Saint-Etienne to Lille, including this piece on Bettor.com by Lucien Lefevre Preud'homme. At the time it was hoped that the Reunion-born winger would be the catalyst to perpetuate Les Dogues’ domestic successes.
It wasn’t to be, and, despite making over 70 appearances on the banks of the Deule, Payet was unable to help Lille return to the top of the classement. His early form at Marseille has been encouraging, and both player and club will be hoping that a successful season will end in World Cup glory in Brazil next summer.
Twenty-year-old Florian Thauvin made much less of an impact at Lille; soon after arriving at the club earlier in the year, he decided that it wasn’t quite for him and, after a loan stint back at former club Bastia, now moves on having never made an appearance at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
Marseille will hope they can finally unlock this exceptional (if troubled) talent, who was once targeted by Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle according to the Daily Star.
In truth, I could have compiled this list using exclusively players recruited by Monaco this summer. Last year’s promotion to Ligue 1 allied with the tremendous resources of Russian owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, have seen Monaco undertake a summer transfer splurge—one which has changed the face of French football.
Thirteen new faces have been brought into the club, many of whom have been purchased at great expense.
While the transfers that have truly caught the eye are those of elite stars Falcao, Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez, the additions of experienced trio Jeremy Toulalan, Eric Abidal and Ricardo Carvalho suggest that there will be some substance beneath the glitz and overriding attacking intent.
I am particularly encouraged by the loan acquisition of Argentina’s No. 1 Sergio Romero, a goalkeeper who has demonstrated his excellence in Italy with Sampdoria, as well as French international Geoffrey Kondogbia who, at 20, returns to France following a season in Spain with Sevilla.
Lucas Digne has long been a prodigious name whispered in the exalted corners of the French game, and his influence from the left-back position was once again evident during the recent U-20 World Cup.
This summer, reigning French champions Paris Saint-Germain saw fit to splash out a reported €15 million to secure Digne’s talents. As I commented last month, following the transfer, “The capital giants weren’t just buying a defender for today, they were acquiring their left-back for the future.”
Despite his youth, the player already has nearly 50 Ligue 1 appearances under his belt—since his emergence at Lille he has proved himself to be the archetypal modern full-back.
Ousting Maxwell from the left-back berth will not be easy, but following the departure of Siaka Tiene, Digne can expect to enjoy the odd outing this term. In time, he will hope to be a major player at the capital giants.
I have long lamented the unfortunate stagnation of Ryad Boudebouz. Following some excellent early promise at Sochaux, the Algerian winger seemed to lose his way.
The once incessant transfer speculation that perennially linked him to major clubs across France and Europe seemed to fade away as the Colmar-born starlet lost the pizzazz that had made him so sought-after.
His peers in Montbeillard, Marvin Martin, Ideye Brown and Modibo Maiga, departed the club one-by-one, but no one came in for Boudebouz. As the aforementioned players moved onto bigger and better things, the former France youth international fell out with the home support, and his form nosedived.
This summer he finally escapes Sochaux and heads to Bastia on the island of Corsica. Tipped for relegation ahead of the season, the acquisitions of Boudebouz and former Juventus man Milos Krasic have transformed expectations on the Cap Corse.
Could the change of scenery and the new-found optimism at the club re-energise Boudebouz? Could the 23-year-old rediscover the form that once made him one of the French league’s most feared attacking talents?
I doubt I am the only one that suspects that Rennes have pulled off a tidy coup in securing Nelson Oliveira on loan from Benfica. The last few years have not necessarily been easy for the young frontman, who after some early, encouraging showings, has struggled to establish himself with either his parent club or the Portuguese national side.
Despite being called up for last month’s international friendly against Holland, he has been overlooked for the crucial upcoming World Cup qualifying bout with Northern Ireland and the glamour friendly against Brazil.
There is no reason, however, why a strong showing in France this season wouldn’t see him muscle past Hugo Almeida or Silvestre Varela into the World Cup squad.
The Daily Mail reported clubs such as Tottenham, Cardiff and Stoke had kept tabs on the young forward this summer and Rennes can be delighted to have captured their man. His early form at the club—he has bagged three goals in his first four outings—suggests that Oliveira will thrive working alongside former Sociedad boss Philippe Montanier.