Mbappé, Gueye, Claude-Maurice: Ligue 1’s out-of-contract XI

The end of the season in Ligue 1 will bring about a summer of uncertainty for players coming to the end of their contract. For some of these players, a late extension might still be offered, for others the next club is all but certain, but for the vast majority, they will enter the strange world of free agency. 

Goalkeeper – Keylor Navas (PSG)

Keylor Navas leaves Paris Saint-Germain without much fanfare from the club but with the adoration and respect of a fanbase who often felt he should have been the starting keeper over Gianluigi Donnarumma. Even at 37, there is still a special goalkeeper waiting for the right club, and it would be a surprise if this season were to be his last. 

Left-back – Layvin Kurzawa (PSG)

Layvin Kurzawa is far from the left-back who seemed to be promised the world when he left AS Monaco for PSG. Injuries and a decision to remain at the club beyond the point where they appeared to want him have curtailed his career. There is still the chance for a late-career renaissance, but Kurzawa will have to be careful when selecting the next step in his journey. 

Centre-backs – Yunis Abdelhamid (Reims), Moussa Diarra (Toulouse) 

Yunihs Abdelhamid was captain reliable at Stade de Reims, and a player who will be sorely missed for his consistency and leadership having missed only 16 games across his seven-year stay at the club. The problem for the Moroccan international was that the Champagne club are looking to youth, while he will be turning 37 at the start of the next campaign. 

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A taste for European football likely inspired Moussa Diarra to leave his formative club Toulouse FC at the end of his contract. The 23-year-old became an indispensable part of Carles Martínez Novell’s system, and he will be a significant loss next season as his flexibility meant that he could play across the backline, despite excelling as a centre-back. 

Right-back – Mikkel Desler (Toulouse)

Another Toulouse man makes the list as Mikkel Desler departs a club where he had won the Ligue 2 title in his first season and the Coupe de France in his second. A third season saw Desler experience the Europa League, but that will be it for his journey in the south of France. He would be a bargain for any Ligue 1 club needing a right-back. 

Defensive midfielders – Pape Gueye (Marseille), Ibrahima Sissoko (Strasbourg)

Pape Gueye’s season at Olympique de Marseille has been a strange one. Sanctioned for the start of the campaign and then benched after refusing to sign a contract extension. It was only the appointment of Jean-Louis Gasset that saw him brought back into the fold. At 25 there is still some untapped potential and it’s clear that when given time in the team, Gueye can excel. 

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Ibrahima Sissoko earned his place in Patrick Vieira’s RS Strasbourg Alsace. It looked like another season fulfilling a graveyard slot in the squad. However, across the campaign, Sissoko made himself indispensable to the team, and for a squad that has looked somewhat light in midfield, the 26-year-old will not be an easy player to replace. 

Left-wing – Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

From hard to replace to irreplaceable. How do you succeed Kylian Mbappé? It’s the question that has faced PSG since February when the forward announced to the club that he would be leaving at the end of the season. There is no easy answer. The Frenchman will be taking his talents to Real Madrid and leaving in his wake a vacuum of goals and leadership. 

Attacking midfielder – Yusuf Yazıcı (Lille)

After two loans away from Lille OSC, Yusuf Yazıcı returned to the club last summer with little expectation for the future. Strasbourg and FC Nantes had both been interested in him, and it looked the best decision for him to leave. Instead, he was given a second chance at Lille and became instrumental as a flexible option in Paulo Fonseca’s Champions League chasers. 

Right-wing – Alexis Claude-Maurice

Alexis Claude-Maurice’s five-year stay at OGC Nice will end next month. His time at the club has been punctuated with a sense that he has become a Swiss army knife, ready to fit into any of the attacking roles but never trusted to hold down one of his own. At his next club, he should hope for a little more consistency, and maybe eventually he’ll find a position he can fully call his own.

Striker – Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco)

Wissam Ben Yedder will leave AS Monaco as their second-greatest goal scorer behind Delio Onnis. The forward played a pivotal role in helping to guide the Principality back into the Champions League in his final campaign and despite turning 34 in August he will likely still have a lot to offer any club that picks him up on a free transfer. 

Honourable mentions for Ligue 1’s Free Agent XI – Steve Mounié (Brest), Ivan Cavaleiro (Lille), Ethan Mbappé (PSG)

Steve Mounié’s final season at Stade Brestois will undoubtedly be his most memorable since joining the club in 2020. His role in the attack helped the team secure their best-ever Ligue 1 finish (3rd place) and a position in next season’s Champions League. It’ll be a shame that he will not be there to experience Europe’s elite with Les Pirates

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Lille have the option to extend Ivan Cavaleiro’s stay for another season but it appears unlikely that they will trigger their contract extension. The Portuguese winger will leave after only one season at the club as Les Dogues look to reshape their attack in what will be an eventful summer in the north. 

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Ethan Mbappé like his more famous brother will leave PSG at the end of his contract. The French champions had gone cold on extending the younger Mbappé’s contract during the season, and now it appears that the midfielder will be searching for a new club away from his hometown and also from Kylian. 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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