The Premier League’s newly signed mammoth television deal was always going to have a knock-on impact for the rest of Europe’s top footballing leagues. However, nobody has felt it more than the French Ligue 1 with a huge number of stars opting to move to England this summer.
The likes of the Ayew brothers, Jordan Veretout, Dmitri Payet and Max Gradel are just a handful of players to have made the switch to the promised land of the Premier League this past summer.
The French league is an a difficult position at the moment with Paris Saint-Germain so far in front of the chasing pack both in financial and footballing terms. The rest of Ligue 1 are essentially sitting ducks in the transfer market with the quality of the league vastly decreased this summer.
That said, we are still in for an interesting season in the French top-flight with a number of young players and clubs ready to make their mark in the chase to finish closest to the Parisian giants. Plus, many of the games will be shown on beIN SPORTS for readers in the US (see the latest TV schedule).
Laurent Blanc’s team will win the title again barring something extraordinary. The addition of Angel Di Maria will provide an injection of truly elite quality which could take PSG to the next level in the Champions League whilst it will serve to only further the gap between themselves and the rest of the French clubs.
Programming note: Even if you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORTS, you can watch Ligue Un live on fuboTV for just $6.99 per month. The service streams the beIN broadcast to your computer, tablet or smartphone (plus, it supports Chromecast). And set-up just takes minutes. sign up for a free trial to fuboTV via their website.
Lyon and Marseille are seen as the closest teams to challenge PSG this although neither clubs have enjoyed stable summers.
Lyon have done well to keep their best players. It seemed certain that both Nabil Fekir and Alex Lacazette would both move to elite clubs in Europe this summer, however, Fekir has penned a new deal, while Lacazette appears to be willing to remain at the Stade de Gerland for one more season.
The club has bought well with Rafael da Silva arriving from Manchester United to bring a significant increase in energy to Lyon’s defense. Injuries have disrupted their preparations with Clement Grenier going down with a serious hip issue at the Emirates Cup little over a week ago. Lyon are working to bring Mathieu Valbuena back on loan, which could be a stroke of genius given his ability.
Marseille’s pre-season has been hugely disrupted with question marks over the future of Coach Marcelo Bielsa still hanging over the newly refurbished Stade Velodrome. The club has lost quality with Giannelli Imbula, Payet, Andre Ayer and Andre-Pierre Gignac all leaving the club.
Abou Diaby has arrived as a midfield addition however his fitness remains a subject of concern particularly with Bielsa’s high-octane style on the training pitch. Lassana Diarra is another free-transfer who brings a wealth of experience to the team, while the £3.5million arrival of Karim Rekik from Manchester City adds a defender who has the potential to reach the highest level.
There remain question marks over the discipline of the team and whether or not they have the mental edge to sustain a challenge to PSG, following their collapse last season.
After finishing fifth last season, don’t rule out St.Etienne being the season’s surprise challengers to PSG. The club may have lost two stars in Max Gradel and Franck Tabanou, both to the Premier League, however the recruitment has been strong with talented forward Nolan Roux signing from Lille, while Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kevin Theophile-Catherine add quality in the full-back positions on either side.
With a strong defensive unit, expect another impressive season from playmaker Romain Hamouma who contributed eight assists last term.
At the other end of the table things are likely to be a lot closer. Newly promoted team GFC Ajaccio will find things difficult despite adding the talented Alexandre Coeff in the off-season.
The two other promoted teams, Angers and Troyes are both likely to struggle, although Angers have been busy in the transfer market this summer signing no less than eleven players this summer. If the new additions can gel together then the club may well stand a chance.
Diego Rolan is expected to have another fantastic season with Bordeaux should he remain with the club. Newcastle United and West Ham United both retain an interest in the Uruguayan forward, who netted 15 goals last season. If he remains, Bordeaux should be able to match last season’s sixth placed finish.
After signing with OGC Nice in January, Hatem Ben Arfa was unable to play due to FIFA regulations surrounding representing more than two teams in one calendar year. Ben Arfa is free to begin this campaign with Nice and at just 28, he could be a potential star this season.
Injuries curtailed his time in the Premier League but on his day there are few better creative players with the ball at their feet. Ben Arfa has Ligue 1 experience and if he can stay fit could drag Nice into the top 10 this season.
While a lot of players have left the league this summer, a lot of quality remains. The title will head to Paris yet there is a lot of competition for places around them and at the bottom of the table as teams scrap to avoid relegation and we are in for another exciting season in France, even if England is poaching the league’s better players.
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