Who are the biggest challengers for the Ligue 1 title?
The French Ligue 1 has been improving at a rapid rate over the last three seasons, after being stuck in mediocrity for a number of years. The Qatari consortium investing so much money into French giants PSG was the first indication of the league improving its status, and now the league has seen five other significant takeovers happen within this time.
Last season AS Monaco upset the odds to triumph over rivals PSG to the Ligue 1 title, this season could see an even closer battle at the top end of the league.
Defending the Ligue 1 crown this season will be an extremely tough ask of this Monaco side. The club that has a conveyor belt of young talent breaking through their ranks will find it difficult to duplicate the success of last season.
The club's achievement of finishing in the last four of the Champions League not only enhanced the reputation of this group of players but also of the league. This upcoming season will see the team going through somewhat of a transition period, with an exodus of players and new signings arriving.
However, holding onto manager Leonardo Jardim gives this team every chance of pushing towards another title next season.
The team has lost big players to the English Premier League this summer, seeing Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva both joining Manchester City, Tiémoué Bakayoko joining Chelsea and with the future of Thomas Lemar linked with a move to England they could lose another one of these young talented players.
The future of Kylian Mbappe is what will be the main interest to Monaco fans until the end of the transfer window. With the World Cup only around the corner surely Mbappe must be considering staying to give himself the best opportunity to start for his native France on the grandest stage.
Versatile Nabil Dirar and Valerie Germain left the club as well; perhaps not the same standard of players as the rest mentioned, but both were influential members of this team.
With the players leaving the club, Monaco did not stand still. Replacements were brought in and again the club has invested very intelligently and sticking with the philosophy of developing talent. The standout introduction to the Stade Louis II stadium is the Belgian hotshot Youri Tielemans. The central midfielder is one of the most talented young players in the world of football and with three international caps to his name already, this young man is a player to watch. Signed for 25 million Euros no doubt his value will treble come the summer of 2018 especially if he gets in the Belgium squad for the World Cup.
Adding Jordy Gaspar was a top replacement for the outgoing Mendy. The former Lyon man is considered among he contenders for the left back position in the France National Team and is a like for like replacement for Mendy. Terence Kongolo and defensive midfielder Soualiho Meïté have also been added to the squad, two strong young players in their positions.
The 10 million Euro signing of Rennes attacker Adama Diakhaby is an exciting signing for the club. Diakhaby is highly rated in France and will certainly provide the team with pace and power in the final third.
The return of Saint-Maximin from a very successful loan spell at Bastia last season will be like a new signing for the team this season, and will be the one to watch, his unpredictability with the ball at his feet, has opposition defenders fearful and his game and really developed in terms of goals and assists. With Monaco linked with other quality names and this current group yet again they will be right up there defending their Ligue 1 crown.
The serial title winners in France will be determined to take their crown back as the Champions of France, while maintaining push in the Champions League campaign. Headlines have followed PSG all summer with links to players like Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele. However the most significant link has been with the Brazilian superstar Neymar from Barcelona and it now looks like they have got their man. This signing propels the status of PSG right away in the world of football, the money being paid is huge so now Unai Emery and his board will have a job to do to balance the team in terms of stability on the pitch and financially.
This PSG side is strong before any additions were made this summer, but adding Dani Alves to the team adds superior quality to the backline which is where most of the problems are for Emery's team. Replacing the retired Maxwell with former Real Sociedad left back Berchiche will be one move that might not make too much sense as he was once considered a flop at White Hat Lane for Tottenham.
With the Neymar deal concluding, any more additions would look unlikely, though would they really need any more. Undoubtedly PSG will go into the season favourites with the bookies and the majority across Europe, and they will be right up there challenging, but who exits the Parc des Princes will be of massive significance. A lot of the players have been linked away from the club this summer including their midfield maestro Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi, Serge Aurier, Lucas Moura, Kimpembe, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Angel Di Maria.
After finishing third in the previous campaign Nice will consider themselves capable of challenging again this upcoming season.
The second half of last season was hard on Nice losing key players like Alassane Pléa, Marco Balotelli and Malang Sarr to injury, was almost a fairytale season from the club who found themselves Chinese investment in June last summer.
This season will be a tough battle for Nice to overcome other sides who have had a bit more to spend around them, but they would have to considered amongst the top contenders in the league. Adding to the squad would have been the main aim for the extremely underrated Lucien Favre and the upcoming weeks could be when some are announced.
The club has been linked with moves in the last week that would very much add quality, experience and excitement amongst the fans of the club. Notably the Dutch master Wesley Sneijder is strongly linked with reports suggesting a contract has been offered.
Stephan Lichtsteiner is another name that has been strongly linked with the club, and perhaps now with Dalbert looking set for Inter Milan, a fee could be agreed for the Swiss international full back. Manchester City's Samir Nasri is a name that has been linked with OGC Nice, who do have a reputation in recent years of revitalizing careers, a move for Nasri could be a stretch too far financially for the club, but certainly a loan move could potentially happen with the intelligent Frenchman.
The club has done well thus far to hold onto players like Malang Sarr, Wylan Cyprien, Jean Seri and Vincent Koziello to name a few. Do not be surprised to see Nice back towards the top of Ligue 1 this season.
Olympique Lyonnais finished twenty eight points behind Champions Monaco, for a club of the size and reputation that Lyon have this can not be deemed good enough. This Lyon side is a shadow of the team that was pushing PSG for the league titles and winning leagues themselves.
This season will prove to be a mighty struggle to maintain their status amongst the best in the division. The fans of Lyon will be expecting more from the transfer market between now and the end of the window at the end of August, however the club might just find if they can get themselves close to 3rd place this would be an achievement considering the players the club has lost.
Losing Lacazette, Tolisso, Mamama, Gonalons, Valbuena, Gaspar, Jaillet and Ghezal in one summer is a big blow to the club and their ambitions. The club will have to look to add to the additions they have already made as the quality just is not quite there. Bertrand Traore is a good signing from Chelsea, Mariano Diaz from Real Madrid should prove to be a gem of a player aside from these two players the additions has not bolstered the team by much. The shining light would be that the club has a top class youth set up and is well known for bringing through their younger players. Always too early to write of Lyon however with other clubs recruiting better and showing more ambition, there is the possibility of the club being left behind.
When Frank McCourt bought over Olympic Marseille, the expectation and enthusiasm started building amongst the fans. Promising an investment to the team McCourt has said all the right things since arriving at the French club, however the smartest business he might do in his time there is appointing former Roma manager Rudi Garcia. Getting a manager who knows the French league was important for the club, adding stability from the top of the club to the bottom. This summer McCourt is reported to have said he will expect better from the team this season. Every right to because of Marseille play this right hey could potentially find themselves in with a chance of challenging for the league title.
Recruitment will be important for what the club can achieve this season and adding one or two extra players with real quality could really propel them as serious contenders. Luis Gustavo should prove to be a huge signing the middle of the park, and Clinton N'Jie has real quality and potential he could be the one player that could take the team far.
The club has been linked with Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko, Olivier Giroud and Moussa Dembele in recent time so the ambitions are there.
This could be a surprise name for some, but the team that play at Stade Pierre-Mauroy might just find themselves in real contention this up and coming season. Lille are the other club who have found themselves with new ownership and when new owner Gerard Lopez came to the club, he outlined his ambitions and understands he will have to invest.
The appointment of Marcelo Bielsa might split opinion, but this is a manger who has managed at the top level, worked with players all across the word, and that has shown with his recruitment this summer thus far.
Using his South American connections Bielsa has signed three for his first team squad. The two of note are Thiago Maia who would be considered a real coup for Lille given the interest surrounding him. Luiz Araujo is a winger who has an extremely positive reputation and given that he ss twenty he had the opportunities to move elsewhere.
Nicolas Pepe is a top signing for Lille; the young Ivory Coast international looked Premier League bound, now however his pace and power running can scare the opposition for Lille. Kevin Malcuit was also brought in to replace the highly regarded Sebastien Corchia from St Etienne, he is certainly more than capable of doing just that. Lille might just be one or two signings of competing for the top spots in the league.
Ligue 1 this season should be more competitive than it ever has, and it is risky not including Claudio Ranieri's Nantes team in contention. Each club could still do even more business, so it will be extremely interesting to see how this campaign unfolds.