With the January transfer window almost closed, there are still a number of top talents left in France’s Ligue 1 who have not been snapped up by bigger European clubs.
Despite plenty of interest in many of Le Championnat’s current gems, foreign interest and the promise of substantial transfer fees has not been enough to persuade some French clubs to part ways with some of their best talent at this moment.
That could well change come the summer though, and there are a number of players who will almost certainly be the subject of intense interest from abroad once the season finishes.
Here are 10 Ligue 1 players who look set for a transfer away from France at some point in 2014.
*All statistics are thanks to Ligue1.com.
Lille OSC captain Rio Mavuba was being chased by struggling Spanish side Real Betis earlier this month, according to Foot Mercato (translated from French as a bilingual), but looks set to stay with Rene Girard’s side until the end of the season.
The French international has been a mainstay of Les Dogues’ side since he arrived in 2008, but at 29 years of age and thought to be one of the club’s highest earners, he could become too costly to keep unless Lille qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
Mavuba will likely be part of the France squad that travels to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer and could use the remainder of this season and any appearances in that tournament to earn a lucrative contract elsewhere.
FC Nantes’ talismanic Serbian striker Filip Djordjevic does not look likely to prolong his stay with Les Canaris past the end of this season, according to Football Italia.
Despite the offer of a new contract from the Ligue 1 surprise package, the 26-year-old is thought to have struck an agreement with Italian side SS Lazio.
However, Djordjevic has not made his decision clear to either club at present and his future is subject to intense speculation.
The Serbian international has scored eight league goals and provided two assists in 22 starts for Nantes, helping them to eighth place in Le Championnat at present.
Djordjevic looks certain to be playing his trade elsewhere after this summer, but the question is where?
Olympique de Marseille’s talented midfielder Giannelli Imbula is one of a number of the club’s best players currently being linked with a summer move.
Despite only arriving at the Stade Velodrome last summer, OM are underachieving in Ligue 1 and could be forced to sell their most valuable assets if they fail to qualify for the UEFA Champions League at the end of the season.
Imbula has only started 10 times for Marseille in Le Championnat this season, but Mourinho and Chelsea could swoop for the talented French under-21 international at the end of the campaign.
One of Ligue 1's most underrated talents is Stade de Reims' Polish international midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak.
The 24-year-old is a key component in Hubert Fournier's over-achieving side at the Stade Auguste Delaun currently, but those familiar with Le Championnat will know all about the versatile all-rounder's virtues.
Krychowiak has three goals and an assist to his name so far this season, but plays a pivotal role in the team's defensive efforts too.
A number of sides, notably Olympique Lyonnais domestically, could use a player of his ability. But a foreign move might appeal to Krychowiak who has been playing in France since 2006.
Last 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, the Italian side tried once again to sign him this month and failed, according to ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman.
The Ligue 1 club blocked the move and it is thought that sanctioning the sale of the French international would have led to the resignation of coach Remi Garde.
Since then, OL have turned a corner and are moving up the Ligue 1 table, with UEFA Champions league qualification in sight.
Achieving that objective might enable Lyon to keep hold of their highly rated captain for at least another season.
However, if Lyon accept a bid for his services in the summer, he might be forced to consider leaving the club.
According to ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman, English Premier League side Chelsea’s coach Jose Mourinho has dispatched French scout Guy Hillion to watch Olympique de Marseille’s exciting 21-year-old starlet Florian Thauvin.
The Portuguese’s interest in Ligue 1 goes deeper than just AS Saint-Etienne’s Kurt Zouma it would appear.
Thauvin, an under-20 World Cup winner, has impressed this season despite OM’s current poor form. The Blues could make a summer bid for him with a January move almost impossible at this point.
The former SC Bastia and Lille OSC man has scored six goals and provided three assists in 15 league starts and could yet find himself going to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer.
However, Marseille’s failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League could spark an exodus of talent including Mathieu Valbuena and Giannelli Imbula.
Paris Saint-Germain’s enigmatic French international Jeremy Menez has seemingly been close to a Parc des Princes exit all month long.
However, despite interest from a handful of Serie A sides including Juventus and now English Premier League side Arsenal too, per Football Italia, the 26-year-old remains a PSG player.
Menez stated at the beginning of the month that he wishes to remain in Paris until at least the end of the season,via Football Italia, but he still only appears to figure in coach Laurent Blanc’s plans peripherally.
With the World Cup looming this summer, a move might not even guarantee the temperamental attacking talent a chance to reestablish himself in coach Didier Deschamps’ plans.
However, a move this summer might allow Menez to get his career back on track if a late January exit does not materialise.
Olympique de Marseille playmaker Mathieu Valbuena revealed earlier this month, per Sky Sports, that he is ready to consider a move away from the Ligue 1 underachievers.
The French international has been a key player for OM over the past few seasons and has now become integral to Les Bleus’ coach Didier Deschamps’ plans at the international level too.
Despite a below-par season so far for the diminutive creative talent, the 29-year-old has still scored one goal and assisted four in 18 league starts.
With UEFA Champions League qualification far from certain at present for Marseille, expect Valbuena to be on the look for a new club come this summer.
According to BBC’s Ben Smith on Thursday, Newcastle United had a bid rejected for Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Clement Grenier.
The day after Yohan Cabaye completed his move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain, the Magpies immediately set to work on trying to secure their No. 1 target.
However, the classy and creative 23-year-old midfielder recently reaffirmed his desire to remain in France at least until the end of the season, accroding to Sky Sports.
The French international has scored four goals and provided four assists in 19 league starts so far this campaign and is targeting a place in Les Bleus’ squad for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Should Lyon continue on their current trajectory with Grenier playing a key role, Remi Garde’s side could find themselves back in the UEFA Champions League next season, providing the player with a dilemma over his next move.
Another player to court serious interest from Newcastle United this month has been Montpellier HSC’s Remy Cabella, according to ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman.
The supremely talented 23-year-old is thought to be a target for many of Europe’s top sides with La Paillade struggling in Ligue 1.
However, coach Rolland Courbis is not keen on allowing the team’s star talent to leave before the end of the month, and the club’s controversial president Louis Nicollin recently told RTL that he thinks Cabella deserves better than Newcastle, per ESPN FC.
The former French under-21 international is Montpellier’s top scorer this season with six goals, and the versatile attacking talent is thought to be keen on ensuring the club’s survival before departing in the summer.
Although PSG coach Laurent Blanc recently admitted to RMC, per ESPN FC, that there are some factors preventing French international Blaise Matuidi from inking a new deal with the club, the 26-year-old is realistically going nowhere.
Since last summer, the player has been involved in a legal wrangle between his former agent Jean-Pierre Bernes and proposed new representative Mino Raiola, according to ESPN FC’s Ian Holyman.
This ongoing court case prevents Matuidi from signing a new contract with PSG or signing a deal with another club.
The all-action midfielder is essentially without an agent while this issue is taken care of, but the player has given his word to PSG over signing a new contract.
Club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi confirmed in an interview with Metro News on Wednesday that the player wants to stay at the club and has given his word on signing a new deal.