A new weekly segment where we take a look at the happenings in French football from a different angle:
1) Pivotal Battle for Digne:
At the time of writing, both PSG and Monaco are locked in the battle for France’s future no 1 left back Lucas Digne. Both clubs are currently in both fee and contractual negotiations with Lille to make this transfer happen; but ultimately it will come down to Digne’s personal choice as to which shirt he would rather wear next season.
Don’t underestimate the psychological importance of this, the first of many transfer battles between resident rich clubs Monaco and PSG. Whichever party can convince Digne to join them next season, through money or otherwise will in turn hurt the other greatly. The outcome of this saga should provide an insight as to what lies ahead in the coming season’s in terms of each club’s pulling power and even who could be set to dominate Ligue 1.
2) The Future is Bright:
The France U20’s beat Uzebekistan 4-0 on Saturday to progress to the semi finals of the inaugural World Cup, currently underway in Turkey. Having watched the side throughout the tournament, I am of the opinion that despite a slightly disturbing lack of desire at times to push on when the team is faced with a difficult situation, this new generation will devastate the best on the world’s stage in years to come.
At times, the French have not had to break sweat during this tournament. The imposing and dynamic Alphonse Areola gives France an intelligent and apt leader between the sticks. Propped up by a sturdy back 4, where Zouma, Sarr and Umtiti have all been able to shine in the previous days by showing focus and maturity beyond their years.
That’s still failing to mention the simply brilliant central midfield duo of Pogba and Kondogbia who have worked effortlessly, but tirelessly. Exciting times ahead for French football certainly.
3) Aulas Howler?
Jean Michel Aulas, the outspoken President of Olympique Lyonnais has received his fair share of bad press in recent weeks for his treatment of Bafetimbi Gomis after he publicly questioned and insulted the player through social networking platform Twitter. In terms of trying to push a player out of the door, Aulas is certainly using a new tactic, by embarrassing Gomis to, what he hopes, the point of no return. Several players have jumped to Gomis’ defence including Sidney Govou and Aulas is now likely to regret his actions in hindsight. Instead of receiving the backing of the majority of the fans, in his attempt to isolate Gomis he has paradoxically isolated himself. The rumours which are now appearing that Lisandro Lopez could be heading back to Argentina when Aulas said ‘we will only keep one of the two’ may suggest the prospect of an embarrassing u-turn for the President. Gomis in the meantime has stood firm and insists ‘I will make my own decision.’
4) Hantzy Business:
Having lost Florian Thauvin, Anthony Modeste and most likely now Wahbi Khazri, SC Bastia’s attacking platform will be completely different to that of last season. I have however been impressed by the manner in which Hantz (Bastia’s manager) has gone about trying to replace these 3 excellent players. The signing of prolific striker Claudiu Keseru on a free transfer, who scored 17 goals in Ligue 2 last season with Angers, is more than likely to fill the void that the sometimes suspect Anthony Modeste has left behind. Next, the Corsicans secured the coy loan signing of winger Florian Raspentino from Marseille; who I felt really threatened for Brest last season and will cause defences similar problems to those that Thauvin created. Two high calibre players which Hantz has secured for virtually nothing. One can only praise the Bastia manager who is destined for greater things.
5) Ruthless DNCG:
As the yearly ‘financial health checks’, which each professional French football club must endure, orchestrated by the DNCG (Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion) come to an end, certain clubs have suffered, creating a potentially unique situation for next season. First of all, CS Sedan have been relegated from the 3rd to the 4th division (CFA), although this was hardly surprising considering their financial struggles throughout last season.
However, both RC Lens and FC Tours of Ligue 2 failed to meet DNCG’s standards too and they are similarly threatened with demotion from the 2nd tier unless their respective appeals are successful. In their places, Frejus St Raphael and Le Poire sur Vie could become unlikely members of Ligue 2 next season. The ruthlessness by which the football financial laws are executed in France show that Financial Fair Play is unnecessary, at least for this country. Only clubs with a sturdy infrastructure can survive. Other countries should learn from France and attempt to create similar bodies to the DNCG instead of succumbing to these mindless FFP rules which will merely stagnate and hinder the growth of clubs across Europe.