Five underrated Ligue 1 stars who will be targeted by big teams in the summer
France's top flight has been a mine of talent for Europe's biggest clubs in recent years, and there are many stars lying in wait once more.
Ligue 1 has proven itself time and again to the be the world’s greatest goldmine of players. Big European clubs can swoop in and secure top talent at a relatively reasonable cost, with the French youth system persistently churning out player after player of a very good standard.
Over the course of the last couple of seasons, N’Golo Kante has gone from simply a promising player at Caen, a provincial club, to being recognised as one of the best players in the world in his defensive midfield role at Chelsea. He is a Premier League champion and will soon double that tally with the Blues. But he is just one of the more extreme examples: every big club in European football has at least one player to have graduated from the Ligue 1 finishing school.
This summer, there will be a fresh exodus of talent from France to abroad, but who are the men who could provide the best value for money? Who could explode unexpectedly onto a wider football consciousness? Here are five strong bets.
#1 Ryad Boudebouz
Montpellier playmaker Boudebouz has been dubbed in some quarters as the ‘next Riyad Mahrez’. That is an unfair title to give a man who is actually older than the Leicester City star and somewhat different in his style. Boudebouz is much more of a creative player and has carried his side’s offensive burden impressively this season.
Indeed, he has been a formidable player at Ligue 1 level for several years but has raised his efforts this term. His creativity and vision would make him a fine capture for any side, though it his technical qualities, notably from free kicks, that really set him apart.
He has already hit double figures in goals this season and has produced seven more assists – terrific numbers in a middling team.