With the summer transfer window staring us in the face, we look at big-name Ligue 1 players—like Guillermo Ochoa—likely on the move.
By Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip)
With just five games left in this Ligue 1 season, some eyes are already focusing on the summer transfer window. And a number of transfer stories focusing on France-based talents have already started to emerge.
Le Championnat is renowned as a source for exceptional value for money when it comes to the transfer window, and this next instalment promises to be littered with brilliant bargains and new talents being discovered.
Along with the new discoveries waiting to be made, though, there are some of French football’s biggest names also edging toward a Ligue 1 exit.
Here are just a few of them.
Mexican international Guillermo Ochoa finally looks to be on the move away from doomed Corsican outfit AC Ajaccio. The most surprising thing about this is that it has taken three seasons for the flamboyant 28-year-old to get away from the Stade Francois Coty.
Something of a surprise that el Tri’s highly rated shot-stopper landed on the French island in the first place, this move is something that has been in the works for some time.
Ochoa himself is doing little to douse the flames—actually fanning them, instead—recently admitting to French television channel Canal+ that he wants to move to Olympique de Marseille.
If he were to make that move, the former Club América keeper will almost certainly be spared the return to face Ajaccio next season with les Ours already as good as gone. Replacing Steve Mandanda—who looks likely to leave OM this summer—is the step up that the Mexican needs, though.
Despite having enjoyed his short spell with AS Monaco so far—not to mention being extremely well suited to the French Riviera lifestyle—Dimitar Berbatov could be on the move again this summer.
Les Monegasques will be welcoming back star man Radamel Falcao from injury at the start of next season, not to mention bringing on-loan Everton striker Lacina Traore into the fold as well.
With Berbatov, Emmanuel Riviere and Valere Germain also at the club, it looks likely that at least one will be surplus to requirements. Age should dictate that the mercurial Bulgarian will be Claudio Ranieri’s odd man out.
Of course the Italian might not be in charge at the Stade Louis II next season, meaning that the 33-year-old could still have a future in the principality past the end of the current campaign. Recent reports have linked French legend Zinedine Zidane with the post.
If he is not kept on by Monaco though, moving within Ligue 1—to a team of lower stature—might be the best option for Berbatov at this stage in his career.
Another player at a crossroads this summer—albeit for different reasons to Berbatov—is Olympique Lyonnais’ troubled playmaker Yoann Gourcuff.
Lyon are believed to want to cash in on the talented, but enigmatic French international before his contract runs out next summer. Despite arriving for €22 million in 2010, the former Girondins de Bordeaux, AC Milan and Stade Rennais man could move for as little as €5 million.
The 27-year-old has already rejected one offer of a new deal—on significantly lower wages—and his future at the Stade Gerland looks bleak.
Although the risk is high with Gourcuff because of his poor history with injuries and his capricious form, it could prove a worthwhile gamble for a team looking for a creative midfielder if he is reinvigorated by a change of scenery.
The same can be said of Marseille’s Mathieu Valbuena, who is set to leave the Stade Veldorome this summer with major changes afoot on the south coast of France.
OM are set to appoint Argentine coach Marcelo “el Loco” Bielsa according to reports, with Valbuena thought to have already been informed that he can leave the French giants this summer.
The 29-year-old les Bleus’ star is set to travel to Brazil for this summer’s World Cup and might fancy using the tournament as a chance to showcase his talent to prospective employers—if the talented schemer does not already have a new club, that is.
Valbuena recently admitted to having been “rubbish” on the pitch for Marseille this season as les Phoceens’ struggle to secure European qualification in Ligue 1, currently sitting sixth in the table.
However, the player also known as “le petit vélo” (“the little bicycle”) remains one of France’s most gifted playmakers, despite OM’s poor season. A move away from the stagnant club could spark a rebirth.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Javier Pastore is another player who has seen his career come to a relative halt over the past 12 months.
On the fringes in the French capital, the enigmatic Argentine reminded everybody of his potential ability with a sublime solo goal against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg recently, but he remains a stifled talent in Ligue 1.
The 24-year-old Argentine international is almost certain to miss out on this summer’s World Cup, but he will be keen to resurrect his career ahead of 2018 in order to re-establish himself with la Albiceleste.
Pastore’s best way of doing that is arguably to seek a move away from the French champions this summer, although French reports suggest that “el Flaco” (“the skinny one”) is keen to remain at the Parc des Princes in order to prove himself.
Outside of those five, plenty of speculation is likely to continue to surround another of PSG’s South American stars—Uruguayan international Edinson Cavani—after he recently admitted to being unhappy at being played out of position.
His recent decline in form could put paid to any summer move for el Matador, though, while teammate Ezequiel Lavezzi’s hot streak could have the opposite effect.
El Pocho was thought to be the subject of intense interest from Italian clubs in January, and PSG could use the Argentine’s impressive form since the start of 2014 to spark a bidding war.
Captain Thiago Silva has also been linked with a potential move away, with the Brazilian international thought to be disappointed with the French champions’ lack of progress under coach Laurent Blanc.
PSG are not likely to sanction any of their sales if Pastore—the more likely to be sacrificed—attracts a substantial enough bid. Lucas Moura is one other possible Parisian talent who could be on the lookout for a new club this summer if he continues to suffer from a lack of opportunities.
Elsewhere, Marseille’s clear-out is likely to see a number of high-profile players—including top scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac—leave this summer. Meanwhile, Lille OSC’s Ivorian international Salomon Kalou has already announced that he is leaving the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Montpellier HSC president Louis Nicollin has also revealed that he will not stand in Remy Cabella’s way as the talented French playmaker seeks a move away from the Stade de la Mosson.
French international Bafetimbi Gomis is expected to head the departures from Lyon’s Stade Gerland along with the aforementioned Gourcuff, and 33-year-old Brazilian Brandao could also be on the move from AS Saint-Etienne, with his contract set to expire this summer.
It promises to be a busy summer!