The exciting emergence of AS Monaco breathed new life into Ligue 1 after ending Paris Saint-Germain’s dynasty at the top and providing Europe with one of it’s best stories. But with the arrival of a certain flamboyant Brazilian at PSG from Barcelona, Monaco being ripped apart at its core and questions surrounding Nice and others, are we heading right back to status quo in France’s top flight?
1 – PSG
Seems a mere formality, doesn’t it? The world record signing of Neymar is more than a spectacle, it’s a statement of intent that could give the capital club the rejuvenation it needs. Let’s be honest, not only did PSG lose the title last year thanks to Monaco’s excellence, they lost because of the lack of a consistent goal scoring threat not named Edinson Cavani, as well as a lack of desire after winning five straight titles; fixated on finally attaining Champions League glory. The Parisians should be favourites to reclaim their throne thanks to a full season with January recruit, Julian Draxler, as well as free pickup, Dani Alves. With their main rivals gradually being decimated by the rest of Europe in the transfer market, anything less than winning back the league crown for PSG should lead to Unai Emery’s departure.
2 – Monaco
As expected, the Ligue 1 champions were plucked of talent left and right. But having kept star men Kylian Mbappé, Radamel Falcao and Thomas Lemar, as well as the addition of Belgian star, Youri Tielemans, a potential upgrade to Tiémoué Bakayoko, ensure that this exciting bunch will make a serious push to retain their crown. Ultimately, the loss of their outstanding Portuguese playmaker, Bernardo Silva, will prove too much to overcome, but those expecting the rapid demise of the principality club domestically and in Europe will have to wait a while longer.
3 – Marseille
Les Olympiens have steadily built a strong collection of talent the last two windows. They picked up Valère Germain, Adil Rami and Luiz Gustavo this summer after re-acquiring flashy winger, Dimitri Payet, from West Ham in January as well as Morgan Sanson, who led Ligue 1 in assists (14) last season, splitting time with Montpellier and Marseille. After four years out of the Champions League and with a fairly balanced squad, this feels like the year the now American-owned club will return to Europe’s premiere competition.
4 – OGC Nice
The last two years have been magical for the club from the French Riviera; fourth in 2015/16 followed by finishing third last season under the guidance of ex-Mönchengladbach boss, Lucien Favre. Having kept Favre and Mario Balotelli this summer amidst interest elsewhere as well as the acquisition of Wesley Sneijder are plusses for a club filled with promising young talent and title ambitions. But with European commitments set to test their shaky squad depth, Balotelli’s unpredictability and the potential departure of their creative centre piece, Jean Seri, they could be derailed enough that they fall just shy of Champions League football. Too many obstacles in the end.
Relegated Teams: Dijon FCO, Troyes, Amiens SC