10 Players Who Could Leave Ligue 1 on Back of World Cup Performances
This summer’s FIFA World Cup has been an excellent tournament as far as Ligue 1 has been concerned, with a number of French-based players excelling in Brazil. On the back of those performances, a number are expected to leave Le Championnat for pastures new before the end of the current transfer window.
France’s top flight is no stranger to summer and winter exoduses, but this year’s departures could be of much higher quality than those of previous years considering the strength of some players’ individual performances.
Here are 10 Ligue 1-based talents who could earn lucrative transfers abroad based on their World Cup displays.
While there are a number of players who fared well at the World Cup, but did not make this list, there are some still worthy of mentioning.
Belgium's newest star Divock Origi is one. The 19-year-old plays his club football for Ligue 1 side Lille OSC and has already been lined with a move to Liverpool, per Squawka's Sam Long. Origi scored once for the Belgians in Brazil after a good campaign in Le Championnat, netting five times.
Another of Les Dogues' star men, Ivory Coast's Salomon Kalou, could also be on the move. The 28-year-old started two of the Elephants' three Group C encounters, but did not manage to score. Kalou's 16 Ligue 1 goals last season will have attracted a number of suitors though.
Le Parisien: PSG offer Toulouse's Serge Aurier contract after talks between both clubs in Qatar. Clement Chantome could feature in deal.— FFW (@FrenchFtWeekly) July 12, 2014
Finally, Toulouse's Serge Aurier could feature on this list, but it looks as though he is already heading to French champions Paris Saint-Germain. According to Le Parisien (h/t French Football Weekly's tweet), talks between PSG and Toulouse sped up over the weekend and the capital club could throw Clement Chantome—on loan to the Pink City outfit last season—into the deal.
10. Aissa Mandi
Stade de Reims’ Aissa Mandi was part of an impressive Algerian side that pushed eventual champions Germany all the way to extra time in their 2-1 defeat in the last 16.
Although he started their opening clash with Belgium on the substitutes’ bench, the 22-year-old right-back quickly made himself an important member of coach Vahid Halilhodzic’s vibrant team and secured a starting role for the remaining three fixtures.
Prior to the World Cup, Mandi was not well-known outside of France. However, his showings in Brazil—as part of a team that won many admirers for their fearless and entertaining approach—could now make him the subject of plenty of foreign interest this summer.
9. Andre Ayew
Even before this summer’s World Cup, the future of Olympique de Marseille’s Andre Ayew was up for debate because of the arrival of new coach Marcelo Bielsa. The 24-year-old’s performances with Ghana in South America—particularly in the 2-2 draw with eventual winners Germany—might have attracted interest in the OM man.
Ayew scored twice in three games in Brazil, also finding the net in Ghana’s opening 2-1 defeat to the United States of America.
Despite the Africans’ problems off the field during their summer sojourn, Ayew was one of few to impress and could have earned a move away from Marseille because of his displays.
8. Abel Aguilar
One of the unsung heroes of Colombia’s brilliant campaign this summer, Toulouse’s Abel Aguilar will be of interest to a number of French and foreign clubs between now and the end of the transfer window.
Featuring in three of Los Cafeteros’ five matches in Brazil, the 29-year-old midfielder impressed as part of Jose Pekerman’s exciting team.
Although AS Monaco’s James Rodriguez was the star attraction for the Colombians during the tournament, Aguilar was one of a number of the 23-year-old’s supporting cast.
It must also be said that Toulouse have something of a reputation as a selling club in France. Along with Ivory Coast star Serge Aurier, Aguilar could be a summer departure.
7. Marco Verratti
While Italy endured a disappointing World Cup campaign that resulted in a group-stage exit after defeats to both Costa Rica and Uruguay, PSG’s Marco Verratti ensured that his stock remains high.
The diminutive 21-year-old Italian midfielder started two of the Azzurri’s three games in Brazil, showing that he has an important part to play on the international stage in future.
Real Madrid have regularly been linked with an interest, while the player is also thought to be the subject of a new contract offer from PSG. L'Equipe recently reported (via Get French Football's tweet) that the Spanish side are planning a €40million move for the Italian.
Verratti could move abroad if the French champions decide that his exit can finance one or two moves elsewhere.
6. Vincent Enyeama
This summer’s World Cup was a brilliant tournament for Ligue 1 goalkeepers in particular, and Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama was one of three stoppers to excel in Brazil.
The 31-year-old Lille star kept two clean sheets in the four games that the Super Eagles played before eventually being ousted by France in the quarterfinals. Despite conceding five goals in those other two games, Enyeama made a number of outstanding saves.
Although Les Dogues will be delighted with their No. 1 after an excellent last season in France, a lucrative offer from abroad could tempt them to part with him on the back of his performances at the World Cup.
5. David Ospina
Another goalkeeper who impressed during the World Cup was Colombia’s David Ospina.
Like Toulouse’s Aguilar, the 25-year-old OGC Nice custodian was one of the more unsung of Los Cafeteros’ stars in Brazil. However, that has not stopped other clubs from outside of France from taking an interest in Les Aiglons’ shot-stopper.
Arsenal are thought to be keen on Ospina, according to Tom Sheen in The Independent, and other clubs will surely have sat up and taken notice of his two clean sheets in five games this summer.
4. Ezequiel Lavezzi
Another PSG star who could be moved on by the club after excelling at the World Cup is Argentine star Ezequiel Lavezzi.
The 29-year-old helped Alejandro Sabella’s men all the way to the final—where they were ultimately beaten by Germany.
He was an important part of La Albiceleste’s team throughout the tournament, featuring in six of their seven games in Brazil. El Pocho, as he is nicknamed, started all four of Argentina’s latter-stage fixtures.
still no news on why Lavezzi was taken off? I've heard no reports that he was injured. If he was fit, the decision possibly cost ARG game— Simon Kuper (@KuperSimon) July 13, 2014
Although he did not score while in South America, the PSG star shone and helped an inefficient attack give sufficient support to star man Lionel Messi. He was also arguably Argentina's best player in the first half of the final against Germany.
After enjoying a great start to 2014—despite having been relatively disappointing overall in the French capital—Les Parisiens could be tempted to cash in on Lavezzi’s good showing this summer.
3. Guillermo Ochoa
One player almost certain to not be returning to France after an excellent World Cup is Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa.
The 29-year-old was incredible for El Tri this summer and won a number of admirers as Miguel Herrera’s men made it out of their group and into the round of 16, before being beaten by eventual third-placed side the Netherlands.
Having just seen out his contract with relegated side AC Ajaccio, Ochoa is one of this summer’s most attractive free agents thanks to his two clean sheets in four appearances in Brazil.
L'Equipe: Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa will decide his future next week. Will continue his career in Spain with Atletico interested— Transfer Central TNC (@TransferNewsCen) July 11, 2014
According to L'Equipe (h/t Transfer Central TNC's tweet), his future now lies in Spain and not France.
2. Mathieu Valbuena
Of France’s domestic-based contingent, Marseille’s Mathieu Valbuena was by far the most impressive. Les Bleus’ No. 8 is a key player for Didier Deschamps’ side and impressed those unfamiliar with Ligue 1 thanks to a string of excellent performances in Brazil.
At 29 years old, Le Petit Velo—as he is known—is yet to experience foreign football, and a move away from Stade Velodrome has been on the cards for some time. Few would have expected that move to be to the Russian Premier League, though.
According to L’Equipe (h/t French Football Weekly’s tweet) Marseille have agreed a €7million deal that will see Valbuena move to Dynamo Moscow. It is a criminally low fee for a brilliant creative talent, and it is not the move that many would have expected him to make after his sublime performances during France’s run to the quarter-finals.
Should it go through, Ligue 1 is losing one of its greatest—not to mention understated—talents, and his future at international level will be in jeopardy because of such a risky move combined with his age.
1. James Rodriguez
The undoubted Ligue 1 star of this World Cup, though, has been Monaco’s Colombian gem, James Rodriguez.
At just 23 years of age, the talented Cafeteros’ No. 10 scored six times in Brazil—including one contender for goal of the tournament against Uruguay in the last 16—to win the tournament’s top scorer award.
James arguably had a stronger case to win the player of the tournament gong instead of eventual winner Lionel Messi of Argentina.
However, his sensational performances have attracted the attention of Spanish giants Real Madrid, and according to L’Equipe (h/t French Football Weekly’s tweets), talks are already underway between Los Blancos and Les Monegasques regarding a move.
It appears that Rodriguez is one major Ligue 1 talent who will not be plying his trade in France again next season.