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Five stand-out Ligue 1 bargains your club needs to target this summer

While the whole world of football has been financially impacted by the global pandemic nowhere is the struggle presently more acute than in France where the situation for several Ligue 1 clubs is particularly dire.

Eighteen months of lost revenue is now beginning to bite hard but as costly to the well-being of Lille, Lyon and co is the TV rights fiasco that continues to drag on. Last year a bumper £800m deal went spectacularly awry when the broadcaster Mediapro failed to meet its monthly instalments and jumped ship, leaving many clubs in severe difficulty after spending the money ahead of payment.

In short, France has experienced an especially brutal double-whammy of financial crisis this past year and depressingly we can expect one or two cherished institutions to consequently go to the wall in the not-too-distant future.

What this also means is that we can anticipate an exodus this summer as leading French institutions seek to off-load their most valuable assets to stay afloat. This won’t be easy in a pandemic where money is tight for almost everyone while driving up the price will prove impossible when it’s an open secret that their need to sell is great.

We can therefore expect the final list of Premier League signings at the end of August to prominently feature stars from across the channel with the following five stand-out talents widely coveted.

Houssem Aouar (Lyon)

The 23-year-old midfield schemer is so good that were he English, he would definitely inhabit the national side’s bench and be brought on with minutes to spare, but only with minutes to spare, because he doesn’t track back enough. That’s how good he is.

As it is, on the international scene, the French poster boy for transfer rumour geeks has won just one full cap to date. That stupefied.

Aouar has received plenty of very real interest in recent seasons from Europe’s elite but that was when Lyon were known to drive a hard bargain, formidable in their negotiations. Now their position is weakened and subsequently, Liverpool and Arsenal are hoping to take full advantage.

The latest reports have Liverpool favourites, with a fee slightly north of £25m likely as the Reds look to replace the departed Wijnaldum.

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Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes)

By all accounts Manchester United have a relatively clear shot at securing the services of Stade Rennais’ brilliant teen and this hugely surprises given how highly he is rated across the continent.

As with Aouar, a fee of £25m is being mooted and arguably it is a deal that would already be wrapped up if not for a rekindled interest from Old Trafford in Declan Rice complicating matters.

To simplify the situation, England’s lynchpin at the Euros is United’s dream target but they’re aware it is unlikely he can be swayed from either staying at West Ham or moving across London to Chelsea. While there is hope, however, Camavinga is considered a fall-back option, with the added bonus that making a late bid for him in the window might help reduce the fee.

This is a risky strategy, especially as the midfielder revealed recently his preferred destinations would be Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, though the latter couldn’t afford the 18-year-old’s right toe currently.

The Angola-born superstar-in-the-making has a high ceiling on his development and has already shown enough to suggest he might one day reach his lofty potential. United surely won’t have everything their own way for too much longer.

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Aurélien Tchouaméni (Monaco)

With Camavinga, Marseilles’ Boubacar Kamara, and Tchouameni, Ligue 1 is very well-staffed right now with superb box-to-box midfielders, all aged 21 or under. Arguably, it is the Monaco starlet who is the pick of the bunch.

Tall, elegant in possession, and blessed with an innate reading of passing patterns meaning he always seems to be in the right place to break up play, the French under-21 international can sometimes feel wasted in Monaco’s strict 4-4-2, stationed solely in a defensive role. Striding forward, he can trouble the best around such is his array of attributes that recalls another emerging gem, Jude Bellingham.

Presently, it is Chelsea leading the way and they will certainly not be put off by a rumoured £35m valuation though memories of signing another rangy midfielder from Monaco loom large. Tiemoue Bakayoko proved to be a huge flop at the Bridge. Tchouameni, by comparison, has the world at his feet. 

Jeremy Doku (Rennes)

In 2018, a 16-year-old Doku was flown over to Anfield along with his parents and given a VIP tour with all the bells and whistles. Jurgen Klopp spoke to the trio, insisting the talented Belgian winger would one day replace Sadio Mane should he commit his future to Merseyside. Steven Gerrard showed the wide-eyed youngster around the club’s impressive academy. Mo Salah presented the teen with a signed shirt.

Everything was in place for the pacy prodigy to join the Reds with just a signature needed.

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Except Doku declined the move to England, instead concentrating on first proving himself in Belgium with Anderlecht before joining Rennes for £24m in the autumn of last year.

Fast-forward five years from Liverpool’s failed recruitment attempt and Doku has lit up the Euros. Sadio Mane meanwhile has just 24 months remaining on his contract and that will take him into his thirties. The club’s interest in the wonderkid is real, long-standing and has only heightened in recent weeks.

Jonathan David (Lille)

A devastating partnership of 35-year-old Burak Yilmaz and David up front for Lille played a huge part in the club’s incredible topping of Ligue 1, PSG and all, last season. Together they scored 29 goals, striking up an almost psychic understanding of the other’s movement. Together, at times, they were unplayable.

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Precisely how much of that translates into serious interest in the Canadian when detached from his partner-in-crime remains to be seen but certainly his stock has never been higher, even after he fired home 30 in 60 for Genk as a teen. Now 21, the time feels right for the Brooklyn-born hit-man to prove himself at an elite level.

Read – Five big name PL players who need to get their act together in 2021

Read Also – Player Analysis: Ben White is an excellent fit for Arsenal, but did they need him?

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