Thanks to the talent coming through Clairefontaine, French football’s national youth academy, as well as the added interest and competition fostered by Qatari investment in Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1 has grown in respect and quality. Talent is just as eager to arrive as leave these days. Over the past three days, we’ve looked at early transfer business in La Liga, the Bundesliga, and Serie A. It’s time our attention turned to Ligue 1 transfers.
Luiz Gustavo – Wolfsburg > Marseille (€10m)
This Brazilian midfielder has mostly spent his professional career in Germany. Since 2007, Luiz Gustavo has appeared with Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich, and most recently, Wolfsburg. The holding midfielder had tallied just over 250 appearances. The Bundesliga has been like a second home for Gustavo but he has decided its time to try France, having been signed by Olympique Marseille. His calm presence in the middle may help OM deal with PSG and Monaco’s attacking talent.
Yuri Berchiche – Real Sociedad > PSG (€16m)
It’s been a while since Les Parisiennes bought a player with whom most fans are unfamiliar. Berchiche’s anonymity is probably down to playing with lesser known teams in Spain rather than his talent. Before appearing in Spain, Berchiche actually began his career with Tottenham Hotspur. The left-back was loaned out more than once before heading home to Spain permanently in 2010. The Spaniard featured with the Reals Union and Sociedad. He was also loaned out to Eibar during his time with the Basque club. PSG saw something and offered Real Sociedad a sum they couldn’t refuse. In the French capital, Berchiche will probably become a more noticed name in the near future.
Thiago Mendes – Sao Paulo > Lille (€9m)
Outside Brazil, not much is know about this central midfielder but Lille obviously heard whispers, having had scouts watching him over a period of time. The 25-year-old has made over 300 appearances professionally in his home country although he hasn’t yet been capped for the Selecao. A move to Les Dogues might improve both his club and international standing. Mendes’ initial challenge will be to gel with his new team-mates in a new culture.
Bertrand Traore – Chelsea > Olympique Lyon (€10m)
You probably couldn’t guess which country this striker comes from unless you know your football. Traore was born in Burkina Faso. He spent his youth career at Auxerre and Chelsea. At just 15, Traore was representing the African nation at international level. Although he had been at Chelsea since 2013, the Blues only gave him ten first-team appearances. Instead, Taore has ventured out on loan. Vitesse and Ajax were the selected clubs, for which he didn’t disappoint. The 21-year-old netted 25 goals in 66 games over two seasons in Eredivisie. Not a bad record but his latest test awaits in France’s second city.
Terence Kongolo – Feyenoord > AS Monaco (€13m)
The defender has played his entire career to date with Feyenoord. Born in Switzerland to Congolese parents, Kongolo’s childhood was further complicated with a move to the Netherlands. On the bright side, he has already been capped by l’Oranje. He has appeared at every international level all the way back to the U15’s, with two matches under his belt with the first team. The 23-year-old also played more than 100 games at Feyenoord. Challenged by another exodus of young talent, Monaco has come calling. It’s a huge step at a crucial age in the young man’s development.
That’s our look at the French league’s potential new rising stars.What do you think about the early batch of Ligue 1 transfers? Next on the agenda is the final installment: the Premier League. Watch this space.