After lifting the FIFA World Cup on home soil back in 1998, France has taken the opportunity to show the world just how wonderful a football nation they are especially through their domestic football. The French Ligue 1 or Le Championnat has taken several steps forward since then especially in the last three to four years with recruitment of world class talent thanks to the investment by Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi. Monaco also recruited top quality talent and despite the departure of a few big names, Ligue 1 has welcomed two household names about to enter the prime of their careers in the form of Argentina’s Angel Di Maria and Brazilian defender Rafael da Silva.
Both recruited from Manchester United, the South American have been at two of the best clubs in the world and from the best leagues. Di Maria is regarded as one of the best players in the world at the age 27 years while Rafael has been praised by the Old Trafford faithful for his tenacity and commitment when he enters the pitch. At the age of just 25 years, the Brazilian defender has his best years ahead of him and making a move to France may be an indication that over recent seasons, the French top flight has grown significantly.
French champions PSG has been the flag-bearer for Ligue 1 especially in the Champions League where they have reached the quarter-final stages in the last two seasons. The Parisians boasts world stars such as Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marco Verratti, Edinson Cavani, Lucas Moura, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and of course Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They have also managed to hold onto French star Blaise Matuidi and recruited highly rated Ivorian defender Serge Aurier from fellow Ligue 1 club Toulouse.
With a host of superstars playing in their domestic competition, the French Football can attract a large percentage of the football world to watch their competition. The profile of their top flight has been lifted significantly over the past five years. The likes of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez plied their trade at Monaco while Portuguese star Joao Moutinho is still at the heart of their set-up along with Italian striker Stephan El Shaarawy, who joined this summer.
Ligue 1 is also the home of several highly rated young players who have been attracting interest from some of Europe’s elite clubs. The likes of Monaco’s Fabinho, Layvin Kurzawa and Anthony Martial have been linked with several top club in recent times. Alexandre Lacazette, Nabil Fekir and Clement Grenier of Lyon are making a name for themselves and many believe it is only a matter of time before they take the next step in their careers to one of Europe’s elite leagues.
In the football world today, French football is still seen as a competition where young players can learn their trade and develop their talent. However with more and more established stars in the prime of their careers earning their living there, that perception could change in the next few years. The arrival Rafael and Di Maria could very well persuade more young stars entering their prime years to move to France. With just about two weeks remaining in the summer transfer window, there may yet be more established names in the football world moving to France to play their trade.