For once, the transfer window for Ligue 1 clubs was as much about players joining the league as leaving it. Nothing will stop English scouts scouring France for the next big thing, not while they are still producing the likes of Kylian Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé, and Antoine Griezmann. Here are five Ligue 1 players who’ll pop up on your radar over the next year. Andrew Gibney reports.
ADAMA DIAKHABY - MONACO
They may be seen as a selling club, but Monaco are a business with a plan, and it’s one they are very good at sticking to and making a success.
Diakhaby is the perfect example of that. Signed from Rennes weeks before Mbappé left for Paris Saint-Germain, they hope he’s the next off the conveyor belt. Able to play on the wing, but mostly as a centre-forward, he’s a quick and agile youngster.
Big and powerful for his age and he’s still growing. Keita Balde also arrived from Lazio this summer, but it’s the 21-year-old who is the next potential, sellable star. Diakhaby has a good touch, a keen eye for goal, and the pace to trouble back-lines in behind.
OLE SELNÆS - SAINT-ETIENNE
After arriving in France in January 2016, it has taken Ole Selnæs some time to embed himself in the Saint-Etienne way of life, but now, under new boss Óscar García, the club seems to have pledged some faith in the Norwegian.
Making 3.8 tackles per game and two interceptions on the defensive side has been key to the Spanish coach’s pressing game, but Selnæs has also completed more passes than anyone else in the team.
Calm on the ball, he’s now showing a good eye for a pass, plus using his body well to muscle in to win back control against opponents. García looks to be the ideal mentor to take the 23-year-old to the next level.
LUCAS TOUSART - LYON
Last season, the former Valenciennes midfielder started 17 times and slowly edged his way into Bruno Genesio’s plans.
When Maxime Gonalons was out, Lucas Tousart showed his maturity — a captain in the French youth set-up — and impressed when asked.
Now Gonalons has gone and rather than let Sergi Darder or anyone else take command, the 20-year-old has made the position his own. Defensively excellent, he reads the game well.
Then, when in possession, he doesn’t give the ball away cheaply. Rather than being bothered with flashy passes, he makes sure the attacking talent gets the ball where they need it most. Efficient, composed, and mature, Tousart has stepped up; Lyon have found their new midfield general.
MARIANO DIAZ - LYON
The 24-year-old arrived in France from Real Madrid this summer and not many knew what to expect. In just 114 minutes spread over two seasons, Mariano Diaz had scored five goals. Perhaps not good enough for Los Blancos, but he had shown enough potential for someone to take a risk.
Trying to replace Alexandre Lacazette at Lyon is no easy feat, but with three goals in his opening four games, Mariano has done just that. He brings a much bigger physical threat to the penalty area. Strong in the air, a deadly finisher, he is everything they were looking for and with time and chance to settle, he is only going to get better.
Included in OL’s €8 million purchase was a buy-back clause and a sell-on percentage for the Spanish club. If he scores over 20 goals in his first campaign, don’t be surprised if Real buy him back and sell to the highest bidder.
ANGELO FULGINI - ANGERS
After moving from Valenciennes to Angers in the summer, Angelo Fulgini is continuing to show his flexibility and array of talents in France’s top division. While in Ligue 2, he was deemed able to play as a defensive midfielder, a No.10, at right-back or in attack.
Rather than just be a jack-of-all-trades utility man, the former Manchester United target excelled at all of them.
This term, he has been mostly used on the right-wing under Stephane Moulin, but has shown his proficiency in winning the ball back, providing deadly set-pieces and controlling possession. Managed six goals and two assists last term and will hope to add to that.
Once someone decides Fulgini’s best position, the 21-year-old could go further, for now he’s just going to impress where you want him to play.
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