Ligue 1 always manages to throw up some surprising transfers, and some that make you gasp at the audacity of a deal. In years gone by, some of the world’s top players have found their way to French shores for some of Ligue 1’s top teams.
Transfers like Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez to Monaco, Edison Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi both swapping Naples for Paris and of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva making their way to the French capital from Milan. With some of the stars leaving Ligue 1, the clubs have always found a way to bring quality back to the league, and now we will look at the top 10 deals to take place this summer in Ligue 1.
1) Hatem Ben Arfa- Nice to PSG- Free Transfer:
After making his way to Ligue 1 last season after a dreadful spell in England, Hatem Ben Arfa rediscovered his best form last year at Nice. His 17 Ligue 1 goals made him one of the most sought after Free Agents during the summer, and found his way back to the club he supported as a boy in Paris Saint-Germain.
Many football fans hope that Ben Arfa can finally fulfil the potential that many felt he could reach years ago, but time is running out for the 29-year-old. If he is to ever prove the doubters wrong, this is the time to do it. He’s at one of the biggest clubs in Europe, and will be playing in the Champions League, and if he keep himself fit, this could be one of the biggest seasons for the former Lyon man.
2) Grezgorz Krychowiak- Sevilla to PSG- £28M):
The former Reims midfielder left Ligue 1 for the Europa League champions in 2014 after spells with Reims, Bordeaux and Nantes but has finally made his way back to the French first division. The success Krychowiak had at Sevilla established himself as one of Europe’s most underrated defensive midfielders and seem to avoid any serious interest from any of the Elite clubs in Europe.
It wasn’t until the recent Euro 2016 that many saw the qualities that the Pole possess, and his performances in the competition prompted PSG, led by his former boss Unai Emery, to sign the 26-year-old. Krychowiak could be such a huge part of a new-look PSG midfield, and could be vital as the Parisians look to compete in the Champions League.
For some, PSG may be the only team in Ligue 1 who can challenge on all fronts, but with a huge season on transition taking place at the Parc des Princes, Krychowiak could become a huge part of this PSG project.
3) Kamil Glik- Torino to Monaco- £9M:
Similar to Krychowiak, Glik was one of the stars of Poland’s Euro 2016 campaign as they reached the Quarter-Final stages of the competition. Glik starred as Poland’s resiliency was praised and his performances caught the eye of Monaco, who forked out just under £10M for the 29-year-old. For years, Glik had been making his name in Italy for clubs like Torino & Palermo, but he seemed to go under the radar for many of Europe’s clubs.
Finally, Monaco picked him up for a relatively cheap price when considering the prices of other defenders and Glik hopes that he can show his talent in a Ligue 1 title race and in the UEFA Champions League. Leonardo Jardim’s side have tried to be a very defensively sound side, but with someone of the calibre of Glik in their side, they may finally be able to challenge for the Ligue 1 title.
4) Nicolas N’Koulou- Marseille to Lyon- Free Transfer:
The signing of N’Koulou from Marseille to Lyon may well be the best buy of any team this summer, with N’Koulou being one of the top defenders for some time in Ligue 1. Due to recent financial troubles at OM, Marseille couldn’t afford to pay the wages of the 26-year-old and let him go on a free transfer, and this allowed Lyon to swoop in and sign N’Koulou.
With Samuel Umtiti departing Les Gones in the summer for Barcelona, N’Koulou will be able to slot right into the heart of the defence and be the replacement for Umtiti and form a partnership with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
For a free transfer, Lyon have managed to form one of the most defensively-sound partnerships at the back, and at the end of the season N’Koulou could turn out to be the best buy of the Ligue 1 season.
5) Mario Balotelli- Liverpool to Nice- Free Transfer:
It may seem that Mario Balotelli to Nice is a transfer that won’t really make any headlines, at least for footballing reasons, but the signing of the former Milan man is huge for Nice and for the player himself.
After a horrid time in England with Liverpool, Balotelli needed to find a club that will let him reinvent himself and let him find his form, and after what happened at Nice in regards to Hatem Ben Arfa, Balotelli could be at the right club. If Lucian Favre can get the tactics right and find a way for the team to complement Balotelli, the Italian could be a key player for OGC this season.
Of course, most will see Balotelli going to Nice as the end of his career, with certain pundits in England saying that even a free transfer is too much for Balotelli, but if he can get a good run of games under his belt, Balotelli could be a star for Nice.
6) Dante- Wolfsburg to Nice- £2M:
Another good signing for Nice, Dante arrives back in Ligue 1 after spells with Borrusia Monchengladbach, Bayern Munich and most recently Wolfsburg. The Brazilian found himself out of favour with the German club, and searched for a move away, and chose Nice.
At the age of 32-years-old, Dante may not be a his peak, but he will certainly add a lot to this Nice squad, particularly experience, a calm head and a personality that knows how to win the big games and how to deal with pressure on the pitch.
Nice manager Favre has managed Dante before at Gladbach, and knows that he can trust the defender to be his eyes and ears in the Nice dressing room, and be his voice on the pitch.
7) Bafetimbi Gomis- Swansea to Marseille- Loan:
With Marseille having to sell half of their squad this summer, they needed a striker to fill in for the outgoing Steven Fletcher and Michy Batshuayi in attack, and OM called upon former Lyon striker Gomis. It may only be a season-long-loan, but Gomis will provide a strong threat up top for Marseille, and whilst he may not be the same as Batshuayi, he will still be prolific.
His style of play may suit Marseille this season, as they will more than likely find themselves on the back foot in some games, and Gomis’ size and style will allow the midfielders behind him to come into play.
If Gomis proves to be a hit this season, we may find him making his move permanent if he manages to impress the new Marseille owners enough.
8) Jeremy Menez- Milan to Bordeaux- Free Transfer:
Once again, a free transfer in Ligue 1 that could prove to be a savvy purchase by the end of the season. Former PSG star Jeremy Menez had his contract run down at AC Milan, and was picked up early on in the window by Bordeaux with hopes of the Frenchman being their star player this campaign.
Under new management this season, Bordeaux need to move themselves up the Ligue 1 table and push for European places where the fans of the club feel they belong. Menez was brought into the club to replace the goals left by Wabhi Khazri in January, a sale that the team never seemed to recover from.
Menez has all the potential to step up to the plate, but it will take a lot more than just the 29-year-old to push Bordeaux to any sort of glory this season.
9) Djibril Sidibe- Lille to Monaco- £12.75M:
With reported interest from some of Europe’s top clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester United, that alone should tell you how good of a season Sidibe had last time out for LOSC Lille. The 24-year-old had a superb season last year, and was a shining star towards the end of the season where Lille miraculously found themselves in the Europa League places.
Monaco managed to acquire the services of Sidibe, and further increased their potential to be the best defensive side in Ligue 1 this season. Along with Kamil Glik and Benjamin Mendy, Leonardo Jardim’s side have all the tools to impress defensively this season, and Sidibe could be a star this time next season, for both club and country.
10) Emanuel Mammana- River Plate to Lyon- £6M:
This is a transfer that may reap it’s rewards in the future rather than having an immediate impact. The Argentinian defender has been very highly-rated in South America for some time now, and Lyon have picked him up for a cheap £6M, and Mammana is now able to give Les Gones some fantastic cover if any injuries curtail the squad.
With Lyon looking to challenge on every front this season, Mammana may be used in the latter stages of the Ligue 1 season, and may get some minutes in the Coupe de France and the Coupe de Ligue. Bruno Genesio has made it clear that he wants to challenge PSG for the Ligue 1 title, and the impact of Mammana to Lyon could be very beneficially when the going gets tough.