Along with every transfer window comes a lot of speculation, transfers, and departures, and this summer in Ligue 1 has been no different. As usual, many clubs turn to the French league in search for either underrated or undervalued players. Monaco’s brilliant run in the Champions League and League Cup, along with their Ligue 1 title meant that the red and white side would be a target for the biggest clubs to buy from. Along with Monaco, many other teams have made significant changes to their squad, with Lyon and Lille leading the category. Lille is currently undergoing an exciting reconstruction under the “crazy” genius Marcelo Bielsa.
Paris Saint Germain have a whole new look down the flanks, as they acquired Real Sociedad’s Yuri for about 15 million Euros & Dani Alves on a free transfer. The Spaniard is a potent left back with the attacking capabilities to create many goals up top. Playing under Eusebio, Yuri has developed into a positional fullback, meaning his positioning mostly allows him to locate himself in the right location to either attack or defend effectively. He paired up greatly with Zurutuza and Oyarzabal to own the left flank of the Basque team.
As for Dani Alves, little can be said that is not already known. The Brazilian is a world class full back, who just completed a fantastic season with Italian champions Juventus. He arrived to the capital on a free transfer, and will battle Meunier for a starting spot under Unai Emery. Personally, I would have given Meunier the starting spot for this upcoming season, rather than signing someone of such an elite status. While it’s understanding that PSG want to take their squad to the highest level, Meunier completed a stupendous season as a right back. He was one of the most consistent for the Parisian side, providing both technical and physical presence down the right.
As you have probably heard his name from recent FIFA games, AS Monaco completed the signing of young midfielder Youri Tielemans. The Belgian signed for 21 million pounds, and will be looking to play alongside Fabinho, if he stays at the ‘Monegasco’ club this upcoming campaign. The young box-to-box midfielder is less defensive than Bakayoko, yet offers midfield dominance, good heading capabilities, and an outstanding long shot talent. Great place for him to grow.
Another player that will be looking to grow will be La Masia product Jordi Mboula. The explosive winger signed for just 3 million Euros, and has already made noticeable impact on the field during Monaco’s preseason. He offers electric dribbling, speedy accelerations, and a good eye for goal. Hopefully he will be among the squads teenagers to make an impact for Monaco throughout the year.
Like Mboula, Jordy Gaspar also chose to travel to Monaco for teenage top-tier experience. Neither Lyon nor Barcelona granted them first team football, so both chose to move to Jardim’s team. Gaspar signed on a free transfer, and offers characteristics similar to Benjamin Mendy, however he plays as a right back. Quick, potent, and better attacking than defending. He also has a solid weak foot, occasionally performing as a left back.
Like PSG, Lyon also brought new faces for their fullback positions. Fernando Marcal and Ferland Mendy both play as LB’s. Due to their different playing styles, they offer much versatility down that flank. Mendy is more physical, while Marcal is better on the ball. While not slow, Marcal offers less pace than Mendy does.
Lyon also confirmed the signing of attackers Bertrand Traore and Mariano Diaz from Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively. Both offer similar characteristics: young, physical, quick, with great movements and intelligent decision making. Mariano shined during the few minutes he got under Zinedine Zidane this year, and Bertrand Traore was a regular starter under Peter Bosz this year in the Europa League and Eredivise. Like Mariano, his main position is as a striker, however they can both play on the wing do to their overall attacking capabilities.
Lille have also put together an extremely exciting sporting project. They brought in philosophical manager Marcelo Bielsa, and with him came a numerous amount of signings. Thiago Maia performs as a central midfielder, and arrived from Santos for nearly 12 million Euros. Thiago Mendes and Luiz Araujo both arrived from Sao Paulo, one acting as a central defensive midfielder and the other as a left winger.
Here are some other transfers that have been completed by Ligue 1 teams:
Luiz Gustavo from Wolfsburg to Marseille
Florian Thauvin from Newcastle to Marseille
Benjamin Lecomte from Lorient to Montpellier
Christophe Jallet from Lyon to OGC Nice
Paul Baysse from Nice to Malaga
Benoit Costil from Rennes to Bordeaux
Corentin Jean from Monaco to Toulouse
Ismaila Sarr from Metz to Rennes
As for departures, Sebastien Corchia, Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso, Bernardo Silva, Mendy, Braithwaite & Bakayoko make up the most significant losses so far. For French football, it is rather sad that all these star players have chosen to migrate, however most of them joined greater teams where they will undergo new challenges. As for everyone listed above aside from Corchia and Tolisso, England was the go-to league this summer. Bernardo Silva & Benjamin Mendy joined Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Bakayoko joined English champions Chelsea, Lacazette joined Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, while Martin Braithwaite chose a rather questionable destination, after signing for second-tier Middlesbrough. PSG’s academy player Jean Kevin Augustin chose an interesting destination, signing for 2nd place Bundesliga team RB Leipzig. On paper, it looks like a smart move by the ex-PSG forward, as Leipzig give a lot of minutes to young players trying to develop. Marseille’s forward chose to move to the Turkish league, signing for Galatasaray. Oscar Trejo was massively questioned for choosing to play for Rayo Vallecano after a great season in Toulouse. The player then stated how money was not a factor, and that he wanted to return to Rayo to help them reach the top tier.
Some serious rumours have been going around this summer involving Ligue 1, with the biggest one being Neymar to PSG. The Parisian club is likely to activate his buy-out fee, which would mean a record 220 million Euro signing for the Brazilian star. Alexis Sanchez has also been linked with a move to PSG, although the transfer is highly unlikely to take place.
Aside from all other club departures, Monaco are still receiving countless offers for their star players. Thomas Lemar has been linked to Arsenal, Fabinho has been heavily linked to Atletico Madrid and both Manchester sides, and young prodigy Kylian Mbappe Lottin has emerged as a possible substitute for Morata at Real Madrid.
Other significant rumours include:
Jordan Veretout from Aston Villa to Saint Etienne
Moussa Sissoko from Tottenham to Marseille
Carlos Bacca from Milan to Marseille
As Ligue 1 is already used to, this summer has been extremely active when speaking of signings and departures. Monaco, Lyon, Lille and PSG have made the most impact in the transfer market, while Nice has remained somewhat quiet in this specific field. As of today, there have been 203 departures and 209 singings, with a net balance of 247 million (departures) against 298 million (signings). If Neymar signed for PSG, however, the signing category would nearly double in amount.