Thursday, July 2, 2009
Yesterday we "reported" that Karim Benzema had become the latest member of Galacticos v.2 so I decided to take a look at the rest of the goings-on in Ligue 1. I was going to do this last night, but "America's Got Talent" was on and I love that David Hasselhoff!
Before we start, I just want to remind everyone of how I began our Ligue 1 coverage last year. The astute reader will observe that I tipped Le Havre, Le Mans, Grenoble, and Caen as contenders for relegation. Le Havre and Caen were indeed sent down, while Le Mans finished 16th and only 3 points above the drop zone. I also predicted that Lyon, Marseille, and Bordeaux would finish in some form of the top 3. Lo and behold, the top 3 were Bordeaux, Marseille, and Lyon! The lesson here is that I am clearly a genius.
Now, on to transferpalooza! Note: For the moment I am only including the "big-name" transfers (your mileage may vary on what you consider to be a big name).
GKs on the move: For some reason, the silly season in Ligue 1 began with a flurry of GK carousel, with many of THE big names changing clubs.
Cedric Carrasso has made the move from Toulouse to Bordeaux. An excellent move for him, and Les Girondins get an upgrade over Rame/Valverde from last year. In return, Toulouse bring in Pele from Le Mans UC 72. Paris Saint-Germain lose Mickael Landreau to Lille, but they bring in former Les Bleus #1 Gregory Coupet from Atletico Madrid. Saint-Etienne, who barely avoided relegation, snatch Plante from Caen, allowing the GK to stay in Ligue 1 as his former club fight to regain their form in Ligue 2.
Don't be THAT guy: We've also seen a few players on the move that have often left our readers wondering "Who is that guy" despite the fact that they had productive Ligue 1/2 seasons.
AJ Auxerre bring in Licata from AS Monaco, presumably to be paired up top with either Niculae or Oliech. Bordeaux have brought in Obertan from FC Lorient, which tells me that they are hedging their bets against losing reported Arsenal/Fulham target Marouane Chamakh. Lyon, in addition to the massive loss of Benzema, have suffered the departure of both Keita (to Galatasaray) and Paillot (to Grenoble). Marseille have recalled a number of loans, the most promising of which is Milos Krstic, the 22 year-old midfielder from AC Ajaccio in Ligue 2. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain lifted Erdinq (11 goals, 6 assists) from Sochaux.
Wow, they moved him!?!: And now we come to the big "big names", those transfers that look to have an immediate impact on both the club they left and the club they join.
As noted (several times), the biggest Ligue 1 transfer so far is the move of Karim Benzema from Lyon to Real Madrid. However, Lyon also lose the aging, yet prolific, Juninho to El Gharrafa in...umm, Qatar? Okay then. The current rumour is that Lyon are focusing on Ruud van Nistelrooy as a replacement. Rivals Marseille also lose several significant members of their squad, with the unhappy (and apparently too mouthy) Djibril Cisse off to Panathinaikos, Zenden out of contract, and Gael Givet's loan to Blackburn made permanent. Finally, Valenciennes were unable to re-sign Jean-Claude Darcheville, the former Rangers striker who scored 4 goals in 10 matches in his brief stay, and he may sign with newly-promoted Montpellier HSC.
Who's in charge here?: This off-season has also seen several changes at the helm for clubs looking to improve upon results from last season. The coaching carousel indeed!
Newly-promoted US Boulogne CO hired Laurent Guyot, former FC Nantes player and youth academy coach, to steer them through their first-ever season in the top flight. Former Boulougne gaffer Philippe Montanier moves on to Valenciennes, affording him the opportunity to make his old club's first season in Ligue 1 a miserable one. And Valenciennes were in need of a gaffer because former manager Antoine Kombouare had been snatched up by Paris Saint-Germain after they declined to renew the contract of Paul Le Guen. AS Monaco FC have lured Guy Lacombe away from Stade Rennais as they look to finish more strongly than they did last year after a good start. Stade Rennais, for their part, bring on Frederic Antonetti, who led OGC Nice to 9th place last season. The biggest managerial move of the off-season, however, goes to Olympique de Marseille, who have brought on the legendary Didier Deschamps to replace Eric Gerets, who inexplicably left the club at the end of the season to run Al Hilal Riyad (Saudi Arabia). Oh, look who I thought L'OM would bring on to replace Gerets!
I'm a genius, I tell you!