With the January transfer window now looming upon the football schedule with a view to excite, surprise and ultimately switch things up for the rest of the season, the often underrated world of French football once again serves up several delights for the rest of Europe to potentially sample this winter.
Whilst the majority of bosses in Ligue 1 will likely want to keep hold of their most prized assets, the overall popularity and lure of Europe’s other top leagues may prove just too much for some players in French football to turn down.
With that in mind, just who are the Ligue 1 stars that could be on the move this January.
Lyon’s latest French sensation is simply one of the most coveted players in world football at the moment. Alexander Lacazette just has everything to his game. He is fast, strong, takes up great positions and seemingly scores for fun in Ligue 1.
So far in 2014/15, the exciting 23-year-old currently leads the top goal scorers lists in France with an incredible 17 goals, only three of which being penalties. Lacazette has also made a name for himself as a provider as well as a goal-scorer, with a decent five assists already recorded in this league campaign.
Such an impressive start to the season hasn’t gone unnoticed by Europe’s finest however. Newcastle United and Arsenal have expressed brief interests in the striker in the past, but Alexandre Lacazette’s most recent admirers have been Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers could certainly use some more firepower up front at the minute, but as Lyon’s newest hot-shot has been in explosive form so far this campaign, many believe that the Reds may have missed their chance to sign him on the cheap.
Alongside Edison Cavani and Marek Hamsik at Napoli, Ezequiel Lavezzi was largely considered to be one of Europe’s most promising young players who would go on to achieve everything. Since his big-money move to PSG however, Lavezzi’s progress has hardly been rapid.
The bustling Argentinean forward has seen his priority status slowly diminish whilst spending time at the Parisian giants. Subsequent managers have played Lavezzi either as an outside striker or as a winger, with neither position proving as effective as his usual centre-forward role. The PSG no. 22 is of the Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez mould, but you just wouldn’t know it from his time in Ligue 1.
Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool are once again reportedly the most interested in signing Ezequiel Lavezzi, but rumours suggesting a move back to Serie A with either Juventus or Milan have also begun to do the rounds. With a fee rumoured to be around £8 million however, perhaps we will see a few more sides come in for Ezequiel Lavezzi as the transfer window progresses.
Whilst this 29-year-old defender has hardly set the world alight before in his career, Loic Perrin has become a firm fan favourite as captain of St. Etienne, whilst also representing the French national team on a couple of occasions in recent years.
Perrin possess the ability to play as either a solid centre-back, or as a slightly more expansive defensive midfielder in the middle of the park. Whilst he has never been blessed with a vast array of technical ability, St. Etienne’s main man goes down as a good leader on the pitch, and someone who doesn’t take any nonsense from the opposition.
All of which would suit Arsenal nicely at the moment, so it comes as no surprise that Arsene Wenger has apparently been keeping tabs on the St. Etienne captain. Such reports may seem unfounded at the moment, and there are surely other options that Arsenal could be surveying out there if they were to look hard enough, but Loic Perrin still remains one of the most important names to be linked with a move to the Emirates in the run up to the winter transfer window.
Although he has been deployed as an out-in-out striker in past, Romain Alessandrini is officially an attacking midfielder who has the ability to create chances galore, and put a few of them away in the process.
During 2014/15, Marseille have performed a somewhat transformation in their fortunes, rising to an impressive first place in Ligue 1 after the half way mark. As a result however, Alessandrini has so far been restricted to only three league starts this season, scoring just the one goal. Fans of French football will all know what this live-wire is all about from his time at Clermont Foot and Stade Rennais, but so far Marseille’s new-boy hasn’t quite lived up to the mark.
Whilst a direct move away from French football isn’t exactly on the cards for the 25-year-old, seeing as both Juventus and Borussia Dortmund have expressed an interest in the midfielder in the past, you would expect that Romain Alesandrini will not be left on the subs bench for long. The January window could signal an end to his time at Marseille, but it could prove the time when Alessandrini really gets going at his new club.
Seeing as Marcelo Bielsa’s Marseille are doing so well this campaign, in comes as no surprise that another of their stars, this time Dimitri Payet, has been attracting interest from the Premier League and beyond.
Payet is a player who has the power to excite. He has the pace and technical skill to take on defenders, but he is also a clever footballer who’s decision making has been on-point for his side so far in 2014/15. Five league goals is also good going for the 27-year-old, as assisting is far more important to his game than scoring. Since being part Lille’s title winning side in 2011, Dimitri Payet simply put his name on the map and he has never looked back since.
Whilst steady progress awaits the Marseille man if he is to continue his career in Ligue 1, an illustrious move to the Premier League could be enough to turn Payet’s head. Both Arsenal and Newcastle have again been linked with France’s latest rising star in their past exploits of Ligue 1, but Swansea City have so far been the latest PL side to express an interest in landing Payet.