One to Watch: Joris Chotard
Montpellier have grown accustomed to being one of Ligue 1’s entertainers. Especially with attacking talents like Elye Wahi and Téji Savanier, who can change a game instantly. However, further back on the field, Joris Chotard has quietly become one of the most important cogs in Michel Der Zakarian’s team.
Despite being just 21, the defensive midfielder is among the best in his trade in Ligue 1. The French U21 international offers a monstrous defensive presence and is the shield for what can be a rather open Montpellier backline at times. Chotard has the ability to be in the right place at the right time. With an average of 3.7 tackles and interceptions per 90 last season, he offers a trusting presence to La Paillade‘s defence which could be vital for Der Zakarian this season.
Chotard’s most eye-catching quality is undoubtedly his defensive qualities and ability to patrol the defensive midfield area with surprising seniority, but last season he showed creativity too. With 6 assists in the 2022/23 season, the Les Bleuets international could offer an unlikely hand in the other box too.
Key signing: Bećir Omeragić
It could yet be a difficult summer transfer window with Elye Wahi heavily linked with a move away and Stephy Mavidid already joining Leicester. However, at the other end of the field, MHSC could have unearthed a potential defensive gem with no transfer fee involved.
Bećir Omeragić , 21, arrives at the Stade de la Mosson from Zurich with bags of experience. Featuring 113 times for FC Zurich, the Swiss U21 international stamped his authority on the Swiss Super League and became one of the division’s most impressive young talents. He played a major part in the Zurich club’s 2021-22 title success and has featured twice in European competition all before his 21st birthday. If Omeragić can use any of these experiences to the same effect in Ligue 1, Montpellier could have pulled off one of the best signings of the summer.
Montpellier’s squad could have been considered rather top-heavy with lots of attacking talent who could make the difference in the opposition box, but a lack of leaders who could make a demonstrable impact in defence. However, with Chotard stamping his authority in defensive midfield and Omeragić arriving in defence, the top of the pitch could be an area of worry. Mavididi’s departure leaves a void in the wings and any departure for Wahi could be catastrophic.
Montpellier’s strength could just be pinned down to Téji Savanier. The Montpellier-born midfielder’s importance in Der Zakarian’s team is immeasurable. The creativity and goalscoring prowess he provides in midfield is vital to any success for the team. Partnered with Chotard in midfield, this area of the pitch is certainly the most balanced and assured area of Der Zakarian’s squad ahead of the 2023/24 season.
Depth in attacking areas is a serious worry for Montpellier ahead of the new season. With Mavididi departing and Wahi teetering on the edge of the exit, the team’s attacking lineup looks spread thin as they look to mount a challenge to comfortably avoid a relegation battle. Nordin operated at a high level last season by outperforming his xG by 2.5 goals with 9 strikes, but he can’t be expected to lead the MHSC attack by himself. Losing Wahi, who scored 19 last season, could be catastrophic for their survival hopes.
As things stand, Montpellier’s squad should be expected to finish comfortably midtable in Ligue 1. With Wahi firing on all cylinders in attack and Chotard and Savanier patrolling midfield behind him, Der Zakarian has a strong core to rely on. However, with interest intensifying in Wahi he could be the difference between a relatively comfortable season and a gruelling relegation battle.
GFFN | Liam Wraith