5 Worst Ligue 1 Signings from 2014 Summer Transfer Window
Despite the customary plethora of talents departing Ligue 1 each transfer window, the majority of French clubs have moved well to replace the players that have left. However, despite the largely good business done by the clubs in le Championnat, there were a handful of questionable moves made this summer.
With French football, it is difficult to pre-judge the signings because the clubs have a knack of finding extremely good value on the transfer market. However, this often means gambling on players who have seen their careers stall or have fallen off the radar for one reason or another.
Paris Saint-Germain can still spend big when they want to, but they have had their hands tied by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) and must consider each move carefully before they make it. However, the rest of Ligue 1—AS Monaco now included—must search for the best available talent at a reasonable price and this produces some surprise moves now and then.
Here are five contenders to be the worst Ligue 1 signings from the 2014 summer transfer window.
5. Lucas Barrios to Montpellier HSC
Had Paraguayan striker Lucas Barrios joined Montpellier HSC in the wake of his Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double winning season with German giants Borussia Dortmund, it would have been hailed as one of the best bits of business conducted by a Ligue 1 club in recent history. The 29-year-old has now joined La Paillade, but his arrival has generated much less of a stir than it would have done two years ago.
Following a prolific three-year spell with Jurgen Klopp’s much admired side, Barrios made a big money move to China where he joined Guangzhou Evergrande. The Argentina-born Paraguay international only managed to score four times in 18 appearances in his last season in Germany and the move to the Chinese Super League was supposed to revive him.
That has not happened and two non-prolific seasons in Asia have been followed by an equally fruitless spell in Russia with Spartak Moscow. Admittedly, Montpellier have only signed Barrios on loan so it could be worse. The upside is also high; particularly if the marksman manages to rediscover his prolific form from earlier in his career.
However, Rolland Courbis’ men are perched in a precarious position at present and a poor season from a misfiring striker could cost them dearly—both in a financial and sporting sense—with relegation a real possibility. Barrios must shake off two or three years of cobwebs in order to show the sort of form that will make him a transfer hit.
4. Sylvain Marveaux to EA Guingamp
The decision made by EA Guingamp to bring in Newcastle United’s Sylvain Marveaux is a reflection of the limitations that Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side are working within. After four seasons at St James’ Park—where he scored just once—the Frenchman had made little in the way of an impression and a fresh start was needed.
Guingamp offered the 28-year-old the chance to return to France and—more specifically—his native Brittany. The player will hope that the move reinvigorates him and sees a return to the form he once showed when playing for Stade Rennais, with Gourvennec one of few coaches who were willing to take a gamble on a player who has lost his way in recent years.
Like Barrios, Marveaux’s move is a loan one and the upside is considerable. However, should the former French under-21 international fail to recapture his previous form, Guingamp will be up against it to avoid the drop more than they already are as one of the weakest sides in Ligue 1.
3. David N’Gog to Stade De Reims
Another player in need of reviving a stalling career is David N’Gog, who joined Stade de Reims on a free transfer from Swansea City. The 25-year-old Frenchman, who started his career with Paris Saint-Germain in their pre-Qatar Sports Investments era, returns to his native country after a six-year spell in England
N’Gog has just 23 goals to his name after eight seasons in English football and the player only showed fleeting glimpses of his talent at Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers before completely dropping off the radar at Swansea.
A free transfer arrival, the risk is limited for coach Jean-Luc Vasseur, but the talented tactician needs N’Gog to rediscover his best form because of a lack of a reliable goalscorer at the club.
2. David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain
The biggest arrival in Ligue 1 this summer was that of Brazilian international David Luiz, who joined French champions PSG from English side Chelsea for an estimated fee of £50 million per ESPNFC. The 27-year-old divides opinion wherever he goes and it is impossible to have a balanced conversation about him at present because of his horrendous showing during the FIFA World Cup in the Selecao’s 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany.
However, the issue is not about his ability, it is about his transfer. Even if Luiz proves to be a good acquisition for les Parisiens, the reported fee paid by PSG will always attract plenty of criticism.
That criticism is warranted because, as it turned out, signing Luiz at such a high price prevented Laurent Blanc’s men from making the moves that they really wanted to this summer in light of UEFA’s FFP. No matter what the player goes on to achieve in the French capital now, he will be seen as the reason why PSG failed to lure the likes of Angel Di Maria to the Parc des Princes.
Only playing a key role in ultimate UEFA Champions League success for the French giants might be enough to spare Luiz further ignominy after a World Cup to forget this summer.
1. Brandao to SC Bastia
Thankfully for Luiz, there is one Brazilian who has pipped him to the dubious honour of being named Ligue 1’s worst transfer of the summer. However, there is no other candidate for top spot on this list after the events of a fortnight ago following PSG’s 2-0 win over SC Bastia.
Brandao—or Evaeverson Lemos da Silva to give him his full name—is currently suspended until September 18 as the Ligue de Football Professionnel decide his fate for a heinous head-butt on PSG’s Thiago Motta that fractured the Italy international’s nose, as reported by Associated Press (h/t ESPN FC).
After just two appearances for his new club Bastia, following a move from Ligue 1 rivals AS Saint-Etienne, le Championnat has likely seen the last of the cumbersome Brazilian. In those two games, the 34-year-old did little and has now put the Corsicans in the position of having to either fire the player or stick by him.
Both options will prove costly, but for very different reasons and, on top of that, it meant that Claude Makelele’s team had to bring in another player before the end of the transfer window—PSG’s Hervin Ongenda—meaning greater expenditure.
The transfer has already been a failure. Had Bastia known the trouble that Brandao would cause them, the player would likely still be with Saint-Etienne.