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20 Ligue 1 Players Who Could Be on the Move in January

Jonathan JohnsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2013

20 Ligue 1 Players Who Could Be on the Move in January

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    With January fast approaching, a number of European clubs will be focusing their attention on Ligue 1 for their shopping in the coming transfer window.

    France has traditionally been a source of excellent value for teams all over the continent in both the winter and the summer markets.

    Plenty of players will be once again be attracting interest over the next month.

    With Le Championnat’s standings already taking shape, more players than usual could be on the move with the gaps at the bottom of the table and between mid-table and the upper echelons wider than in previous years.

    Here are 20 names from France’s top flight to keep an eye on over January.

     

Bafetimbi Gomis

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    Despite fighting his way back into the Olympique Lyonnais side after coming close to being publicly forced out in the summer, French international Bafetimbi Gomis is once again courting attention.

    OL president Jean-Michel Aulas admitted after a demoralising 4-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month that interest in the 28-year-old striker is high.

    Gomis has since revealed that he intends to leave the club on a free transfer at the end of the season, with Olympique de Marseille expected to revive their long-standing interest in the player (h/t ESPN FC).

    At present Gomis has scored seven goals in 13 starts and would be a good pick up for any side looking to boost their goal scoring ability next month.

    English Premier League side West Ham United are believed to be one of the front runners for his signature, but Tottenham Hotspur could now beat them to a cut-price deal according to Metro.

     

Sebastien Corchia

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    Another player who may be on the move in January is FC Sochaux-Montbeliard right-back Sebastien Corchia according to Goal.com’s Robin Bairner.

    Les Lionceaux have struggled this season and currently sit second from bottom in Ligue 1, six points from safety.

    New coach Herve Renard (pictured) will be keen to reinforce his limited side during the January transfer window, but in order to do so, he will need to sell before buying.

    The most obvious player to cash in on is Corchia, a former French under-21 international and one of the few quality elements in a poor FCSM squad, who came close to joining Olympique Lyonnais over the summer.

    Despite a fairly average season for the player so far, there will be no shortage of interest in the 23-year-old who has immense potential.

     

Max-Alain Gradel

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    After joining AS Saint-Etienne from Leeds United in 2011, Max-Alain Gradel initially became a regular in Christophe Galtier’s Les Verts side.

    The Ivorian international scored nine goals and provided five assists in his first two seasons at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, but this is his first season on the fringes of the first team and he has been used sparingly.

    Injuries have played their part and the fact that Galtier has a wide range of similar attacking talents to choose from does not help the 26-year-old.

    Despite that, though, Gradel has still managed two goals in as many starts and has also made a handful of substitute appearances.

    But with opportunities almost certain to continue to be limited and a World Cup looming next summer, it would be understandable if Gradel found bbc.co.uk’s reported interest from former club Leeds too much to ignore in January.

Yassine Benzia

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    Having seen his chances of regular playing time stalled by the reintegration of Baefetimbi Gomis and Jimmy Briand into the Olympique Lyonnais side, Yassine Benzia is growing disillusioned at life with the Stade Gerland-based club.

    According to Eurosport France (translated from French as a bilingual), the talented 19-year-old attacker is the subject of interest from Ligue 1 rivals Girondins de Bordeaux, Montpellier Herault SC, FC Nantes and Stade Rennais.

    In just four starts for Remi Garde’s side, the French under-21 international has scored twice and set up another two goals.

    One goal and both of those assists came in the early season 3-1 win away win at FC Sochaux-Montbeliard.

    The other strike came recently in OL’s 3-1 away win at SC Bastia.

     

Filip Djordjevic

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    Ligue 1-based attacking talent Filip Djordjevic of FC Nantes could be on the move in January.

    The Serbian international has been in prolific form so far this year, netting eight times and providing one assist in 19 appearances.

    Djordjevic has rejected Les Canaris’ offers of a new deal so far and, following his scathing criticism of the club’s poor organisation earlier in the year, looks set to leave in either January or the summer.

    Leading the chase for his signature next month are English Premier League duo Crystal Palace and Hull City according to the Mirror’s Darren Witcoop.

    The 26-year-old will also be a very attractive target for a number of rival French sides looking for value for money.

     

Guillermo Ochoa

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    Ever since Guillermo Ochoa arrived in Ligue 1, the question has always seemed to be over when he will leave and why he is even playing for AC Ajaccio in the first place.

    After two seasons with the struggling Corsican club, this term seems more hopeless than ever after Fabrizio Ravanelli’s short-lived tenure came to an end in November.

    Les Ours are currently bottom of Le Championnat, eight points adrift of safety, and the Mexican international would be forgiven for jumping ship early.

    For the past two seasons, Ochoa has been Ajaccio’s most valuable player, indicating just how much of a struggle survival has been for the team with the lowest operating budget in the French top flight.

     

Maxime Gonalons

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    Over the summer, Olympique Lyonnais captain Maxime Gonalons was at the centre of a mini transfer saga with both AS Monaco and SSC Napoli trying to sign him.

    Since that initial interest, reports have emerged via Eurosport Australia claiming that Rafa Benitez’s side will bid €11 million in January. 

    Considering how poorly OL’s campaign has gone so far, sitting in 10th place at present, it is a deal that the club might be forced to consider if the player declares his interest in leaving.

    Gonalons was perhaps not be contemplating a transfer until at least next summer following the speculation that surrounded him before the start of the season.

    However, if Lyon accept a bid for his services he might be forced to consider his future.

     

Jeremy Menez

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    Another Ligue 1 talent thought to be attracting interest from Italy is Paris Saint-Germain’s French international Jeremy Menez. 

    At 26 years of age, the temperamental star has not yet reached the prime of his career and is growing increasingly frustrated with life in the French capital. 

    Despite scoring the goal that sealed last season’s title win—PSG’s first in 19 years—the Frenchman underwent surgery over the summer and lost his place in the starting XI while absent. 

    According to Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Bleacher Report UK), Juventus are keen to snap up Menez for a fee as small as €3 million.

    Although PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is thought to be against the idea of selling any players in January, it could be worth cashing in on Menez.

    His contract is up in the summer and a renewal is seemingly out of the question at present; selling the mercurial star would mean that there is less competition for Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura in the starting line-up. 

Rod Fanni

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    According to Goal.com’s Robin Bairner, Olympique de Marseille’s Rod Fanni could be set for a move away from the Stade Velodrome in January.

    With better alternatives available within Ligue 1, such as FC Sochaux-Montbeliard’s Sebastien Corchia, OM will likely be willing to consider the French right-back’s exit in order to finance other potential moves.

    The 32-year-old could be of interest to former side Stade Rennais who are looking for reinforcements ahead of the second half of the campaign. 

Salomon Kalou

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    Possibly on the move in January is Lille OSC’s Salomon Kalou.

    Following last season’s prolific feats, when he netted 14 times in 28 appearances, he has struggled this term despite Les Dogues’ good form.

    Nolan Roux has been in excellent shape, netting six league goals so far this year. But while Kalou has managed the same number, he has been less impressive.

    Roux’s fine goalscoring fettle, plus Kalou’s recent admission that he is open to a Premier League return (h/t ESPN FC), could spark a handful of suitors into action next month.

    Lille would do well to cash in now on a player who, despite scoring goals semi-frequently, does not contribute much to the team overall but could still command a relatively sizeable fee.

     

Javier Pastore

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    Paris Saint-Germain may be flying high atop Ligue 1 at present, but everything is not rosy for Javier Pastore.

    The Argentine, who was the first player bought by the club during the Qatar Sports Investments era, has struggled for form and game time so far this season.

    As a result, the €42million man’s reputation is now being seriously questioned.

    Pastore has been linked with loan moves to AS Roma, Olympique Lyonnais and Inter Milan of late.

    However, the 24-year-old told the French press after the 4-0 win over OL that he has no desire to quit the French capital just yet (h/t ESPN FC).

    Whether or not PSG are as determined to keep him remains to be seen, though.

     

Ezequiel Lavezzi

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    It is a similar situation for Javier Pastore’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate and fellow Argentine international Ezequiel Lavezzi.

    El Pocho has struggled to impress so far this season, scoring just two league goals, and has been overshadowed by the first-team exploits of Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez.

    Until recently, Lavezzi had found himself out of the starting XI, but he has enjoyed a small resurgence in form of late and was on the scoresheet in the recent 2-0 win over FC Sochaux-Montbeliard.

    However, judging by his comments to Le Parisien (h/t ESPN FC) at a recent promotional event in Paris, a move back to Italy in January is not yet out of the question.

     

Grzegorz Krychowiak

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    For the past few seasons, Stade de Reims’ Grzegorz Krychowiak has been considered one of Ligue 1’s most underrated talents.

    Despite consistent good performances, though, no bigger French side has come in with a bid to take the Polish international away from the Champagne club.

    Hubert Fournier’s side are punching above their weight at present and sit in eight place in Ligue 1, with Krychowiak’s commanding performances in midfield a key contributing factor to their success.

    Evidently capable of playing on the European stage, the 23-year-old could be a January transfer target for a number of clubs.

     

Geoffrey Kondogbia

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    AS Monaco’s Geoffrey Kondogbia has not had the easiest of times since completing his move from Sevilla to Ligue 1’s new money men.

    Following his arrival at the Stade Louis II, the French international has started just four matches and is struggling to usurp Jeremy Toulalan and Mounir Obbadi in Claudio Ranieri’s starting XI.

    Although Les Monegasques will be loath to part with such a prized asset after just six months, a loan move is certainly not out of the question.

    Before the start of the season, Kondogbia was in the French national team at senior level. Since then, Juventus’ Paul Pogba has overtaken him in Les Bleus’ set-up.

    The 20-year-old is in danger of missing the boat to Brazil, but if he were to be playing regularly for the reminder of the season, he could yet persuade Didier Deschamps to take him as a squad member.

    There is no doubt that Kondogbia is capable of being a future starter for France, but in order to force his way into contention ahead of Euro 2016 on home soil, he needs to be starting matches regularly.

     

Nicolas Isimat-Mirin

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    AS Monaco teammate and fellow Frenchman Nicolas Isimat-Mirin could also depart the principality on loan this January.

    Since arriving from Valenciennes in the summer, the 22-year-old has featured just once and not even as a starter.

    Isimat-Mirin was expected to provide competition for Eric Abidal and Ricardo Carvalho in their starting berths, but that has not materialised.

    At VAFC he was considered one of Ligue 1’s most promising talents, but it is as if he dropped off the face of the earth this season.

    Being loaned back to his struggling former club, a side badly in need of defensive reinforcement, would not be a bad idea.

     

Romain Alessandrini

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    Although Stade Rennais are struggling on the pitch and sit in 15th place at present, this season has been something of a personal success so far for Romain Alessandrini.

    The flamboyant 24-year-old attacking midfielder returned from long-term injury earlier this campaign, but despite having only started eight games, he has already scored four times and provided one assist.

    With Rennes struggling under Philippe Montanier (pictured), Alessandrini could be tempted to look for a move away as he attempts to reignite his chances with the French national team that had looked strong until his unfortunate injury in February.

    A switch to home-town club Olympique de Marseille would almost certainly appeal to the Frenchman.

     

Remy Cabella

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    Montpellier Herault SC’s star man Remy Cabella is a transfer target for Manchester United, according to the Express.

    The 23-year-old talent has considerable potential that can no longer be recognised with La Paillade.

    Cabella is not yet close to being the finished product though and each needs to play for a bigger side (perhaps domestically) before being able to join a club such as United.

    Cabella, a creative midfielder, is playing for a poor Montpellier side battling relegation but has still managed six goals and three assists in 17 starts.

    Despite having been outstanding in an average team for the past two seasons, he would arguably benefit by moving to a smaller club first.

     

Kurt Zouma

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    AS Saint-Etienne’s Kurt Zouma is another player to have seen his name linked with that of Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail.

    The brutally strong 19-year-old is currently serving a 10-match ban for a leg-breaking tackle on FC Sochaux-Montbeliard’s Thomas Guerbert back in November.

    However, Zouma has already been called into the French senior side by coach Didier Deschamps and is now featuring for the under-21 side.

    Saint-Etienne have already fielded plenty of interest in the youngster, but a bid in excess of €10 million would probably be enough to bring Les Verts to the table.

    Like Remy Cabella, though, Zouma is still extremely raw and would be better off either staying with ASSE or moving to another French side to continue his development instead of making a move abroad.

     

Nicolas Nkoulou

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    Olympique de Marseille’s disappointing season has been compounded by an embarrassing exit in the Champions League without collecting a single point and Elie Baup then being dismissed as coach with the team floundering in sixth place in Ligue 1.

    As a result, a number of their star players are being linked with a move away.

    One of those reported to be attracting attention ahead of the January transfer window is central defender Nicolas Nkoulou.

    According to Eurosport Australia, the Cameroonian international is thought to be of interest to SSC Napoli.

    The article also mentions Barcelona and Chelsea as potential destinations for the 23-year-old.

    However, Nkoulou is not enjoying his best season at the Stade Velodrome and might prefer to wait and see who is appointed as Baup’s replacement as coach before deciding to leave OM.

     

Yoann Gourcuff

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    No transfer window would be complete without transfer stories linking Yoann Gourcuff with a move away from Olympique Lyonnais.

    The enigmatic 27-year-old midfielder is currently enjoying an improved season in comparison to recent campaigns, with two league goals and five assists in just eight starts.

    However, he has added fuel to the claims that he could leave the seven-time Ligue 1 champions in January by claiming that OL have lost faith in him according to Goal.com.

    Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger is known to be a long-time admirer of the French international’s talents but, given his injury problems, will likely think extremely carefully before deciding whether or not to bid for him.

    Lyon’s valuation of such an expensive asset will likely deter many of the potential bidders, but it appears that a move away from Stade Gerland is more likely than ever for Gourcuff.

     

Honourable Mentions

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    A number of other stars have an outside chance of being on the move next month.

    AS Monaco’s Radamel Falcao has been the subject of much speculation, but insists that his immediate future lies with his current club according to ESPN FC.

    Mathieu Valbuena of Olympique de Marseille could be tempted to leave following the club’s Champions League exit. But, like teammate Nicolas Nkoulou, he will likely wait until a replacement for sacked coach Elie Baup is named before making a decision.

    Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian international Lucas Moura is fretting over his potential place in Brazil’s squad for next year’s World Cup on home soil. However, despite struggling to hold down a starting berth at the Parc des Princes, the Selecao star is almost certain to stay.

     

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