Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2018/19: Marquinhos

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Marquinhos is going to go down as a legend with PSG no matter how his career ends with the current Ligue 1 champions. It feels like he has been at the club forever commanding the back four. The truth is he is still only 25 and has seen players come and go including one of the very first stars for PSG- Zlatan Ibrahimovic and yet here he is having enjoyed his 6th season with the club.

In the European Fantasy League rankings for Ligue 1 defenders Marquinhos finished in joint 2nd place with Malang Sarr of Lille and got 70 points from his value of 7.5m. He played 30 games and so is still seen as an integral part of the team and he was able to help with 13 clean sheets as PSG conceded 24 goals for the whole season in Ligue 1.

Marquinhos in true Brazilian style for a defender even contributed to some goals. He scored 3 this season and assisted in another two. He received 2 yellow cards and 1 sending off for the season.

His final ranking was such that he finished in 20th place for defenders in all the major European leagues.

The Brazilian started the season off in solid fashion earning 5 points as PSG kept a clean sheet in their 3-0 win against Caen. However in the next five games Marquinhos went through a rough period, where PSG were winning but conceding goals which was hitting him as a defender and in those five games he earned no points. Indeed because two goals were conceded against Nimes, even though PSG won that game 4-2 he ended up with -1 point for that period of time.

However after those games Marquinhos picked up a huge 21 points in his next 3 matches including scoring 9 points when PSG beat Amiens 5-0. He kept a clean sheet and also scored a goal, this is the most points that he would earn in a single game all season.

Towards the end of the season there was another bout of non consistency as PSG ran away with the league and when it was confirmed the club struggled to stay focused especially when they exited the Champions League to Manchester United. It meant that in Marquinhos’ last five games he ended up with a total score of -4 points, as PSG kept conceding silly goals and were losing almost on a weekly basis.

For Marquinhos the job was done though and yet another Ligue 1 title came his way. It was also an improvement on the previous seasons score when he managed 52 points, and surely he would have earned more points had PSG remained on their game until the end of the season.

Marquinhos remains an important player for PSG and even more than that since he gets on with his job and isn’t looking for a move away he is very respected at the club.

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Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Wahbi Khazri

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Wahbi Khazri was one of the delights of Ligue 1 football this past season and his quality in midfield helped fire his club Saint Etienne into a Europa League finish. He also finished with his highest points tally in European Fantasy League thus far with 74 points, and joined only four other players in midfield in Ligue 1 who were able to score 70 or more points.

Khazri has played for five clubs over an 11 year career which started at Bastia, to date playing for Bastia is still his longest stint at one club which lasted for five years. After that spell he switched to Bordeaux for two seasons and then made the move to the Premier League signing for Sunderland. Despite having a decent season in the north of England he wasn’t scoring enough goals for the club, just 3 in 38 league games plus he was obviously missing being in France and was loaned out to Rennes before Saint Etienne spotted his talents and bought him.

In his debut season for Saint Etienne Khazri has done well scoring 13 goals and assisting in another six meaning that he has been involved in 19 of the clubs 59 goals.

Khazri started the season by picking up 4 points as he scored a goal in Saint Etienne’s 2-1 win over Guingamp. The midfielder’s best game was against Monaco when his club won 2-0. Not only did he score both goals but because a clean sheet was obtained too he picked up 10 points.

Khazri’s most consistent and best period begun at the end of November when Saint Etienne were paired with Nantes and ended in mid January. In this time frame Khazri played in five games and gained points in every one of those matches. It was a fine period for the player that saw him score goals and make crucial assists as Saint Etienne started to believe that they could chase a European place. In that time he got 28 points.

The one problem for the 28 year old was his short temper which landed him with 10 yellow cards throughout the season and 1 red card. With better discipline he could have ended up earning easily another 10-15 points.

In the end Khazri helped Saint Etienne to reach the Europa League and it will be interesting to see if he stays around. He should do but his career suggests that he will be on the move soon. At the same time he has just had his personal best season as a football player so the thinking is that he will be fine at this club.

His value this season started at 7.5m, and that could be set to rise for the beginning of next season after his impressive return from midfield.

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Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Alphonse Areola

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At the start of the season PSG’s number 1 goalkeeper Alphonse Areola would have taken a look around and gulped nervously a little when he saw that his club had just brought in Gianluigi Buffon from Juventus. While Buffon was 40 years old he is still regarded as a goalkeeping legend and as it turned out Areola had every right to be worried.

True Areola started the majority of games in the league for PSG but only just. Areola played 21 games to Buffon’s 17. Still the return was very good from Areola who produced 11 clean sheets from his 21 played.

In terms of a successful season, it can’t get much better as PSG won the league with ease, and in theory started to wrap up the title by the Christmas period. They finished on 91 points a cool 16 points in front of Lille and it would have been much more had the team not faltered towards the end once the league was wrapped up.

Areola’s value coming into this season was 6.5m and he finished 3rd in the European Fantasy League rankings for Ligue 1 goalkeepers, 29 points behind Nice’s Walter Benitez. Areola finished on 62 points and conceded 17 goals, his disciplinary was excellent with just 1 yellow card all season.

Areola did not start scoring points until his 3rd game of the season because PSG even though they won his first two games they kept conceding. His fortunes swiftly changed though and he went on a 5 game run without conceding a goal starting against Saint Etienne in mid September and running through until mid November. He earned a huge 35 points in that period where the bulk of his total points came from.

His worst game of the season was when PSG needed just 1 more win to secure the Ligue 1 title. Of course because of their massive lead in the league it was only a matter of time but it simply wasn’t coming. PSG had to play 2nd placed Lille away and Lille were up for a game that PSG didn’t really need to win, in the end and with full credit to Lille they inflicted PSG’s biggest loss of the season beating the champions 5-1. This in turn meant that Areola record -8 points for the game.

Just under 30% of his games ended where he didn’t score a point and his last game was the penultimate match of the season against Dijon where PSG ran out 4-0 winners and for that he got 7 points. He did not play in PSG’s final game of the season against Reims where Buffon was chosen instead, in a game that PSG eventually lost.

In the 2017/18 season Areola scored 103 points so this is a comedown for the goalkeeper although he will argue and rightly so that he wasn’t given enough games to prove his worth. Next season will be interesting. Will PSG stay with him in goal as their number 1 or will they opt to invest in another player?

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers In 2018/19: Nicolas Pepe

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You only have to look at the latest transfer stories to see that Nicolas Pepe is heading the way in terms of young brilliant players being linked to some of the biggest clubs in the world, and this should sum up the season Pepe has just had for Lille.

Pepe starred up front in a season that saw Lille finish in 2nd place to PSG and qualify automatically for next seasons Champions League.

Only two strikers in Ligue 1 were able to achieve 100 points in European Fantasy League, Kylian Mbappe and Pepe. Pepe scored 22 goals and assisted in another 11 meaning that he was involved in 33 goals for Lille this season out of their total of 68 goals, that’s almost 50%.

Pepe is 24 and did not show the promise of a player like Mbappe early on but his move to Lille in 2017 meant that he got to work with coach Christophe Galtier who also joined the club then and the two of them have connected in a way where Pepe respects Galtier and Galtier can see where Pepe’s game needed to be improved. Think of when Arsene Wenger converted Thierry Henry from a winger to a centre forward- and the rest is history.

Pepe started the season by scoring a goal and making an assist as Lille won their first game of the campaign 3-1 against Rennes. His best points tally came in September when Lille beat Amiens 3-2 away from home and he scored a hat-trick which also earned him 2 bonus points and he collected 14 points from one game.

Between early February and early March Pepe scored zero points from 4 games and it is evident that the one problem with his season is that the second half was not as strong as the first. From his last 15 games he only scored points in 5 of those, still because of a strong start that was good enough to amass 109 points for the season.

Pepe made a huge impact this season and finished in 5th place for strikers in the major league which is a massive improvement on previous years. Take the season before where Pepe finished on 55 points scoring 13 goals. He has managed 9 more this season and the sky looks the limit for a player who some would have thought missed the boat in his early years.

Pepe started the season with a value of 8m if you wanted him for your team. Whether the future lies with Lille or elsewhere his value is sure to go up next season. The good news is with Lille in the Champions League which is a rare sight for the club Pepe may just be tempted to stay with them.

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Why PSG should sell Neymar and get Gareth Bale

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For all his brilliance Neymar is becoming a headache for French champions PSG and perhaps now is the time to sell the Brazilian, and in his place they should get Gareth Bale.

At the moment Neymar is clearly unhappy at PSG and if we are being honest he never wanted to be at the club, his desire was to remain at Barcelona. However two seasons ago even Barca could not resist the 200m euros that PSG were offering for Neymar’s services and the Brazilian soon became the most expensive player in football history.

Neymar has not been able to help PSG with their ultimate dream of winning the Champions League but they have dominated in France and Neymar has been brilliant with only a succession of injuries hampering his time in Paris.

The truth is Neymar is unhappy and there was talk that he could be sold to Real Madrid, however Neymar only has one destination on his mind and that is to play again for Barcelona. The Catalan giants would most probably welcome him back as they look to sell Phillipe Coutinho who has had a terrible time with the club after his 120m move to them from Liverpool. Ousmane Dembele hasn’t adapted well too and he is another player who could be sold. This means that Barcelona would have the funds to buy Neymar back.

But what of PSG, who would rather not lose the services of Neymar? Well you have to question why they would want to keep a player who doesn’t want to play for them anymore. The solution then for PSG is to look around for a quality playmaker that is currently unhappy with his club and situation and Gareth Bale at Real Madrid seems to fit that description perfectly.

Bale has been tremendous at Madrid but it is clear that he is not in coach’s Zinedine Zidane’s future plans. The problem for a move for most clubs is that Bale demands around 14m euros salary a year. Again this is a figure that PSG could most likely afford and if the French club made a bid for Bale one would expect that the Welshman would be happy to join the club.

And that really is the key for both Neymar and Bale, motivation. Both would feel re energised and refreshed with their new clubs, scaling new heights and get their hunger and their mojo back. Could Neymar really go back to Barcelona and could Bale be on his way to PSG? In football you never know but on the face of it the moves would make perfect sense for both players.

Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2018/19: Malang Sarr

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One of the outstanding defenders in Ligue 1 this past season might not be a household name yet but he has already made an impression at just 20 years old and his name is Malang Sarr.

Sarr who plays for Nice finished 2nd in the European Fantasy League Ligue 1 rankings for defenders with 70 points. He was outstanding value and would have only cost you 5.5m to buy this season. Sarr started 34 games and was part of a defence that kept 15 clean sheets. He also scored a goal and assisted in one. Even though Nice just fell short of picking up any silverware and a European place for next season, personally Sarr shone under the leadership of Nice coach Patrick Vieira.

Sarr was born in Nice and this is already his 3rd season with the club, he has never been afforded the opportunity to play this many games for the club in a season and he has now been established as a regular call up. His next game for Nice will mark his 100th for the club.

The youngster remained very consistent throughout the season with his best points tally being 7 when Nice beat Nimes 1-0, he assisted in the winning goal and also kept a clean sheet.

His worst month was in September when he actually scored no points and indeed because of a booking- his only one of the season, he ended the month of -2 points. From October 28th to December 4th he stepped up his game scoring points in every match between that time and earning 32 points in the process.

Last season Sarr earned just 17 points and that signals a massive improvement this season earning over 3 times that in the past 9 months.

Sarr’s future looks bright. Vieira thinks very highly of him so much so that in the penultimate game of the season he named Sarr as captain of the team- this was partly down to rewarding Sarr for all of his commitment, dedication and hard work.

One wonders what could be in store for Sarr’s future and it could be away from Nice if he continues to be this good. One thing is for sure and that is getting a senior international call up with France. He has played at every level for the nation, and if he keeps in good health and form it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sarr at the 2022 World Cup. However he will also be eyeing up a possible place in next years European Championship, so another good season will be high on his agenda.

 

 

 

 

 

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Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Florian Thauvin

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It cannot be underestimated how important Florian Thauvin is to Marseille and it would be a strange day in Marseille’s history to not see the player in their line up, he has become part of the furniture at Stade Velodrome.

But after a successful personal season for Thauvin the rumour mill will start up once again and he could be linked with a move away from the club from the south of France. This is due in part to the fact that Marseille did not qualify for Europe, after an inconsistent season saw the club finish in 5th place a cool 30 points behind champions PSG and 5 points from a European finish.

Thauvin has spent five seasons with Marseille on and off and once left the club to join Newcastle United, but in England he only played 13 games before being loaned back to Marseille who eventually signed him permanently. Time is still on his side and at 26 he has his best years ahead of him. But despite winning the World Cup with France (he hardly played in the competition) he only has one other trophy which is the Ligue 2 championship with Bastia, and Marseille’s resolve may be tested again this summer to try and hang on to the player.

It should be no surprise if bigger clubs are looking at Thauvin after the season he has had. In the end Thauvin finished just 1 point behind Angel Di Maria to be crowned the best midfielder in France in the European fantasy rankings for Ligue 1. Thauvin finished on 95 points after scoring 16 goals and assisting in another 8. Both Thauvin and Di Maria were clearly the best midfielders this past season in Ligue 1 and both finished over 20 points above the next player in 3rd.

Thauvin’s best weekend occurred against Amiens when Marseille won 3-1. Thauvin scored a hat-trick which also earned him a bonus 2 points and from that one game he earned a whopping 14 points. There were other stand out moments too like when he earned 10 points against Guingamp and Toulouse, he also started the season with 10 points from his first two games.

One negative that could be pointed at the player was his disciplinary. Thauvin was booked 5 times during the season and was also sent off once. Take a few of those cards away and he would have finished top of the pile for Ligue 1 midfielders.

For now Ligue 1 is still graced by his presence but after having another superb season one wonders how long Thauvin will stay with Marseille and no European football for next season?

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Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Mike Maignan

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What has been PSG’s loss has been Lille’s gain and if anything is to be said of this season it’s that Mike Maignan has a bright future ahead of him.

The 23 year old from French Guiana has been superb this season and at one point it looked like he would be PSG’s number 1 goalkeeper. Coming up through their ranks he was instead overlooked as PSG spent big money dispensing with youth and Lille took the player under their wings, first in the B team and now the senior. He has been Lille’s first choice goalkeeper for the last 3 seasons, but has really broken through in the last two.

In the Ligue 1 football fantasy rankings Maignan finished in 2nd place with 84 points and just 7 shy of first place held by Walter Benitez. His value for this season was just 5m and that is sure to rise for the beginning of next season.

Lille of course had a successful season and while they did not win any trophies they finished 2nd and runner up to PSG which was no mean feat with Lyon chasing them until the final weeks of the season. In Ligue 1 only the first two places are guaranteed a Champions League group stage place with 3rd having to play in a qualifying round, so it was important for Lille to finish 2nd and now they have automatically qualified for Europe’s greatest prize.

Maignan was a huge part of this Lille side as he kept an impressive 15 clean sheets during the season. His overall ranking with all players would be 44th but his overall ranking with all goalkeepers in the major leagues would be an impressive 8th, that’s great going for such a young goalkeeper.

Maignan had many good highlights of the season, gaining what has become the maximum points for a goalkeeper unless they score a goal by achieving 7 points. One of his best periods was the final 16 games of the season when Lille and Lyon were battling each other in a Champions League run in that saw Maignan keep 9 clean sheets from the last 16 games.

With Maignan in such great form towards the end of the season it was ironic that on the very final game he earned the least points of his entire season as Lille lost 3-1 to Rennes and he ended up with -4 points.

It wasn’t all easy going for Maignan whose worst month was January when he earned 0 points but he was able to bounce back and in the end Walter Benitez and Mike Maignan were head and shoulders above any other goalkeeper in Ligue 1.

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers of 2018/19: Kylian Mbappe

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Kylian Mbappe had another fantastic season as he scored 33 goals and topped the lead goal scorers list in France as a result. His goals were the primary cause for PSG winning another Ligue 1 title as Mbappe underlined his reputation as one of the best strikers in Europe.

This season in particular was a massive step up for Mbappe when we consider his previous seasons. Before the start of 2018/19 season the most league goals Mbappe had scored in one season was 15, for Monaco, in season 2016/17. This season he managed 18 more goals and the plaudits need to be lauded on the player for the following reason; he was able to step up after PSG lost the services of both Edinson Cavani and Neymar and Mbappe then became the main player and forward for the club.

Let’s analyse his season. Mbappe started off with a bang when he scored a brace against Guingamp in a fairly routine win and all of this happened despite him only playing 50 minutes of the game. Within the first 2 games of the season he had acquired 14 points and never really looked back.

His best game of the season happened in matchday 5 when PSG destroyed league rivals Lyon 5-0 in Paris. Mbappe was heavily involved and scored an incredible 4 goals, he also picked up bonus points for getting a hat-trick and ended the game with 18 points. Other highlights of the season included scoring a hat-trick and making an assist in PSG’s 9-0 victory over Guingamp, that earned him 16 points and he earned another 14 with another hat-trick against Monaco later in the season.

There were only 4 games when Mbappe failed to record any points and he remained consistent throughout the season. One such instance of this was at the beginning of the season where Mbappe scored points in the first 8 weeks of the season.

Mbappe finished on a huge 144 points in Ligue 1 Fantasy Football rankings and finished 35 points ahead of Nicolas Pepe. His value going into last season was 10.5m and perhaps after having such a great season his value may go up next season. Overall Mbappe would rank 2nd in the strikers list with only Lionel Messi at Barcelona having gained more points.

It is still incredible to think that he is only 20 years old and he has already won 6 major trophies including a World Cup and 3 Ligue 1 titles with PSG and Monaco.

As for his future it looks destined to be away from Ligue 1, but he looks like he will stay with PSG for the foreseeable future and will remain the main focus point of Ligue 1 football. He is arguably the most special talent in classic centre forward style since the Brazilian Ronaldo.

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Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Angel Di Maria

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PSG became champions yet again in Ligue 1 but their superiority isn’t just confined to their front three players of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani and that was underlined this season with how brilliant Angel Di Maria has been for the side.

The Argentine who loves to play out on the wing scored 12 goals and assisted in a further 11 goals in the league this season. To put that into perspective he was responsible for just over 20% of PSG’s goals in Ligue 1. In the European Fantasy League rankings Di Maria is 1st in his position and beat off competition from Florian Thauvin who was the only other midfielder who could compete with him. Di Maria finished on 96 points and Thauvin finished on 95.

Di Maria has been at PSG for the past four seasons and after a difficult period with Manchester United in the Premier League he has really settled into life at Parc des Princes creating goals and scoring important ones. Just counting his league goals this season was also Di Maria’s most successful with 12 league goals that is his highest of his career surpassing the 11 goals he got last season and doing so with one less game played. His overall ranking with all midfielders combined would be 11th.

Di Maria had a consistently good season for PSG and his best game was against Marseille when he scored 2 goals and assisted in another in a 3-1 win. He earned 9 points in that match and the only thing that let him down was losing 2 points for getting a yellow card. The game before that PSG had won 4-0 against Dijon and again it was Di Maria who got man of the match, with a goal and an assist and he earned extra points given that his team kept a clean sheet.

Di Maria’s best form was towards the end of the season with his best month being March where he was averaging 8 points a game. He also had a strong April and May.

What is also interesting is when we look at his value and remember that the season before he was worth 12m to buy for your team. This season he went down to just 9m and ended up being one of the best performers in Ligue 1 where in the end he was ranked in 3rd place. Only Kylian Mbappe and Nicolas Pepe had better seasons in the rankings.

Di Maria who is now 31 doesn’t look like he will be leaving PSG anytime soon and his best years could still well be ahead of him, certainly if this season is anything to go by it appears that the player is getting better.

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