Looking Ahead – Ligue 1 Special

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After the Bundesliga declared its intention to resume in mid-May, France’s top-flight is now aiming to follow suit on June 17.

And it looks set to be a bumper summer of football across the Channel, with the Ligue 1 authorities planning to have the season finished by July 25.

But what impact might this have on the race for honours?

Paris Saint-Germain are 12 points clear in the league with a game in hand, so do they field some of their promising youngsters in their remaining matches, and keep their top stars fresh for the UEFA Champions League?

And for the more unheralded clubs – such as Rennes and Reims – fighting for European spots, will their smaller squads be able to cope with the fixture congestion?

In anticipation of all this, we’ve had a look at five players who are worth keeping an eye on when the action resumes.

Here they are, in no particular order…


Axel Disasi (£0.83)

Reims

22-years-old

Reims’ terrific league season has had its roots in an ultra-miserly defence that has seen them concede just 21 goals in 28 games, the best record in the division.

And right at the heart of that has been Axel Disasi, their French youth international centre-back.

He has 11 clean sheets to his name in Ligue 1 this term, with the most remarkable of those being the 2-0 away win against PSG back in September.

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Direction les 1/2 finales 🔴⚪️ 🐾

A post shared by Axel Disasi (@axel_disasi) on

His displays have not gone unnoticed, and just this week Goal reported that Arsenal have formally contacted Reims to register their interest.

Whether it’s the Gunners or another European giant, Disasi looks likely to be on his way out of Stade Auguste-Delaune, with his contract due to expire next summer and Reims not prepared to lose him on a free transfer.

Valued at £0.83 and just 22 years old, he surely has a lot of upside.


Victor Osimhen (£2.63)

Lille

21-years-old

On March 13, Victor Osimhen was priced at £1.93.

Fast forward five weeks, and he has rocketed to £2.63, a rise of 36%.

Why so?

It’s chiefly due to transfer speculation, but that goes hand-in-hand with performances, and Osimhen has been Lille’s firecracker this term.

The Nigerian frontman – likened to Didier Drogba by ex-teammate Nicolas Penneteau – has 18 goals and six assists in his 38 total appearances, and such form has seen him linked with a host of clubs, latterly Inter Milan and Arsenal.

Lille are already thought to be lining up Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard as a replacement, and with Osimhen likely to fetch a fair fee, Les Dogues might be tempted to cash in.


Boubacar Kamara (£1.26)

Marseille

20-years-old

One outcome of the coronavirus could be Marseille centre-back Boubacar Kamara ending up at Manchester City.

With the crisis increasing the financial peril for French clubs, City could pick up Kamara on the cheap, with reports this week in The Express putting the figure at £28m.

Before that, Kamara has a job on his hands to secure Marseille a Champions League spot.

Andre Villas Boas’ side are second, six points clear of Rennes, but have a tough run-in including the second Classique of the season against PSG.

The 20-year-old Kamara has been exceptional in his 24 league appearances, and trading at just £1.26, he has room for growth.


Adil Aouchiche (£2.36)

PSG

17-years-old

If the French domestic season does go ahead as planned, then PSG will play 13 matches in just five weeks.

Those fixtures – which include 11 league outings and two domestic cup finals – will also be added to by the purported resumption of the Champions League in August, which could see Thomas Tuchel’s men play five more matches.

As such, with the league all but wrapped up, there will probably be opportunities for the likes of star midfielder Adil Aouchiche to add to his 162 minutes of senior action this campaign.

The 17-year-old is a precocious young talent, and his nine goals – from midfield – at last summer’s under-17 European Championships alerted the world to his potential.

Whilst it is understood his dream is to become a first-team regular at PSG, the midfield ranks at Le Parc des Princes are already well-stocked, and as such there have been rumours of a tie-up with Leeds United next season, whose owner Andrea Radrizzani is close to his PSG counterpart, Nasser Al-Khelaifi.


William Saliba (£1.40)

Saint-Etienne

19-years-old

Unlike Disasi, William Saliba’s move to Arsenal is already confirmed, with the young French stopper – this week valued as the third-most valuable teenager in the world by Transfermarkt – set to arrive in England on July 1.

It’s possible, however, that the Gunners will grant Saint-Etienne the use of their player until their season is complete, particularly with a huge amount on the line for Les Verts.

Not only are they battling relegation – they sit one place outside the drop zone – but they also have the small matter of the Coupe de France final against PSG.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3VD4Sbo9Kt/

Saliba has suffered with injury this campaign, spending time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury in the early months, and then seeing a foot fracture rule him out of eight league encounters during the winter period.

So the current downtime will no doubt have been helpful for him to work on his conditioning ahead of a packed summer, before an even more vital pre-season at his new club, who hope he will become a key pillar in Mikel Arteta’s new defensive unit.

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About Author

Rob is a football writer who has featured on MARCA, Crystal Palace and Mundial.

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