5 Signings That Have Lit Up Ligue 1 This Season
The Ligue 1 season is drawing to a close. The title has been decided and, while the relegation scrap will be resolved on the final day, most of the business of the season has been taken care of.
The individual awards for the campaign were handed out at a ceremony in Paris yesterday. Unsurprisingly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic collected the Player of the Year gong for a second consecutive year, while Marco Verratti won the Young Player of the Year prize.
Both Ibrahimovic and Verratti have been playing in Ligue 1 for a few seasons but, after two hectic transfer windows, there have also been a number of fresh faces that have lit up the division this year. Here are five of the best new signings that have taken Ligue 1 by storm this campaign.
This list could be compiled of players from big-spending Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco alone, but there are others that have performed at consistently high levels in their debut seasons and deserve to be included for a more balanced look at the whole league.
Because of that, some talented individuals miss out. Honourable mention must go to Dimitar Berbatov, who has produced moments of breath-taking skill since his arrival. Yohan Cabaye too deserves praise; the Frenchman has been an important part of the title-winning PSG side since his arrival from Newcastle in January.
The five players on this list have been selected because they have performed consistently over the campaign, impressing both individually and as a member of their side. In their first season for their new club, each player has had a fine campaign.
Do you agree with this selection? As always, leave your comments and opinions. Who should be recognised? Who does not deserve a mention? Read on for five signings who have lit up Ligue 1 this season.
Radamel Falcao was the biggest name captured by Monaco in their spending spree before the start of the season. His arrival signalled Monaco's intentions to challenge PSG for the Ligue 1 title, but it has actualy been another of their summer arrivals who has played the biggest part in Monaco's push for trophies.
At €45 million, James Rodriguez came with a price-tag nearly as large as Falcao's, yet through the course of the season he has demonstrated his worth to the Ligue 1 side.
The Colombian winger tops the division's assist charts with 12, and has also chipped in with an impressive nine goals to boot. Whereas Falcao has seen his season curtailed by injury, Rodriguez has started 30 league games this campaign, and been involved in 34 in total.
Monaco's no.10 has been the creative fulcrum of Claudio Ranieri's side, and was a worthy inclusion in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year announced yesterday.
At just 22 years of age, many players would be overawed by the expectation of such a large transfer fee, but Rodriguez has shone in Ligue 1 this season.
With Monaco and PSG splashing out on established international stars this summer, you could be forgiven for not recognising the name of Martin Braithwaite.
The Danish striker joined Toulouse from Esbjerg fB in the Danish Superliga in the summer, and raced out of the blocks in the first few weeks of the season. At only €2 million, the 22-year-old forward has been an impressive addition to Ligue 1, winning many admirers through the course of the campaign.
Braithwaite is notable for his tireless energy. The big-haired attacking talent scored three goals in his first six matches, and has found the net a further four times so far this season. In addition, he has provided five assists as Toulouse sit in 10th place in the table.
Braithwaite is an exciting talent who has quickly become a firm favourite with the Toulouse faithful. His status as a hero in the side was cemented when he scored the winner in the Garonne derby back in January, converting Akpa-Akpro's cross in the second-half to down Bordeaux.
Whereas, for Rodriguez and Braithwaite, this has been their first season in Ligue 1, Henri Bedimo has never played outside the French top flight.
The 29-year-old has played for Toulouse, Le Havre, Chateauroux, Lens and Montpellier in France, but made the biggest move of his career last summer to join Lyon for €2 million.
The left-back has had a superb debut season at the Stade de Gerland and may well move on again in the summer, having attracted attention from some of Europe's biggest clubs. He has been an integral member of the Lyon defence, but it is in attack where he has been so impressive.
Bedimo may not have scored for Les Gones, but he has racked up an outstanding eight assists in the league, more than both Jimmy Briand and Yoann Gourcuff.
Bedimo catches the eye with powerful bursts forward, as well as pinpoint deliveries into the box. He has superb fitness levels and a wand of a left foot which has played a great part in Lyon's proficient attack this season. Unlucky not to be included in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year, Bedimo has had a brilliant campaign.
Vincent Aboubakar joined FC Lorient from Valenciennes in the summer on a free transfer. As the Ligue 1 season draws to a close, Valenciennes are preparing for life in Ligue 2 following relegation, while Lorient are in an impressive 8th position.
Aboubakar has scored a superb 16 goals this season, ranking behind only Ibrahimovic in the goal-scoring charts. The 22-year-old has demonstrated an excellent eye for goal, combined with a robust, bullying physique which has seen him end the season as one of the most feared strikers in the league.
At Valenciennes, Aboubakar never really demonstrated a ruthless scoring streak. He scored just 15 times in 80 games for the club, and so his departure was not a major worry for them.
This season he has been a revelation, and Valenciennes fans must wonder what could have been if he had stayed with them and found his scoring touch this campaign.
Another promising youngster who may well move onto bigger things this campaign, the big forward is a threat to any defence with his strong physicality and great predatory sense. Only two of his goals in the league have come from the penalty spot too; he has not relied on set-pieces to find the net.
The biggest signing of the season, Edinson Cavani joined PSG with a reputation as one of the best strikers in world football. Despite a tricky spell last month when Laurent Blanc's side crashed out of the Champions League, Cavani has lit up Ligue 1 this season.
The Uruguayan striker has plundered 16 goals in the league this season, but his finest moment in a PSG shirt was the Coupe de la Ligue final.
With Les Parisiens missing talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cavani stepped up to score a well-taken brace to hand PSG the trophy.
El Matador deserves his place in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year and, unless he makes a shock move away from the Parc des Princes, should score many more goals for PSG in the coming years.
Cavani's first season in French football has not been a completely smooth ride, and rumours have circulated in the last few days that he is not completely settled in France. Regardless of his future at the club, his debut season has been a success as he has played an important part in PSG's domestic double.