Ligue 1 comes to a close this weekend folks, and the title will return to Paris Saint-Germain, a nice distraction from the never-ending circus at the Parc des Princes which continues to entertain.
But while the big name players in the capital city have hogged the headlines as much for their off field activities than on, there have been plenty of stars shining brightly elsewhere.
We’re taking a look at five who have attracted new admirers by the thousand, and for the money men at their clubs, they have all increased nicely in value.
Jonathan David – Lille
Canada star Jonathan David is fast becoming one of the hottest properties in European football after a stellar performance for Lille in the 2022/23 campaign. The 23-year-old has scored 24 goals to establish himself as the third top scorer in the league behind only Kylian Mbappe and Alexandre Lacazette.
David’s stock has been rising steadily throughout the campaign, and he is making a fast finish, scoring three in the last two games and he’s now bagged over 50 goals for Lille in the three years since signing from Gent.
He’s on a five year contract with two left, and as a second striker with bags of pace, he will be on the radar of any head coach who favours playing two up front.
For now, his target with one game to play is to make it 25 for the season and help Lille to keep hold of their fourth place.
Chancel Mbemba – Marseille
Signed on a free transfer from FC Porto last summer, Mbemba has had a fantastic campaign. And the Congolese defender has been recognised as the best African Ligue 1 player of the season, winning the Marc Vivien-Foe prize.
The 28-year-old has become one of the first names on the team-sheet at the Stade Velodrome, making 43 appearances in all competitions and, as a serious threat at set-pieces, scoring seven goals.
This is the first time the award has been handed to a defender and that makes it extra special for Mbemba. This has been his best season so far, and he’s a real find for Marseille.
And at 28 years of age, he is coming into his prime.
Khephren Thuram – Nice
Defencive midfielder Thuram picked up his first cap for Les Bleus in March, called up for France’s Euro 2024 qualifying games against the Netherlands and Ireland. And at the age of 22, he looks set to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Lilian, who represented France with distinction between 1994 and 2008.
At 6 ‘4”, he is a real unit, and he has already made over 100 appearances for Nice, and has recently been linked with a move to the Premier League with Liverpool monitoring his progress.
He’s the type of physical player Liverpool lacked in 2022/23, and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is looking for a replacement for Fabinho, who failed to impress at Anfield last term.
Thuram is strong in the tackle, has superb positional sense, and is coolness personified on the ball. He will have no shortage of suitors.
Lois Openda – Lens
RC Lens can make a good case for being “Team of the Season” as they finish clear in second place, currently just four points behind PSG after a spectacular set of Ligue 1 2023 results in the run-in. Les Sang et Or have won their last six games in the league, and the form of Belgian striker Lois Openda has caught the attention of fans and pundits in Europe.
Supporters of Lens won’t thank us but here at SBOTOP, we reported a story that Openda may be open to a move to Italy, where he is widely admired.
While with 20 goals for the campaign, he has scored double the tally of Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku. At 23 years of age, Openda has time on his side, and after making the Belgium squad for the Qatar World Cup, he has a bright future with the Red Devils too.
Habib Diallo – Strasbourg
Another player who has suddenly become a hot property is Strasbourg striker Habib Diallo, who is being watched by a host of Premier League clubs after plundering 20 goals to help his club avoid a relegation fight in some comfort.
The pre-season Ligue 1 2023 betting odds reckoned it would be a tough campaign for Strasbourg, but they will finish 15th and they have their Senegalese hitman to thank for their ability to turn draws into wins.
At 6 ‘1”, he’s a powerful figure and would be able to stand up to the rigours of English football with Brentford a possible destination. The Bees will be without their own top scorer, Ivan Toney, who has been handed an eight-month ban for betting irregularities.
Diallo has two years left on his contract with Le Racing and he won’t come cheap.
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