France Ligue 1 – Five to Watch
Five Ligue 1 Players for your Fantasy Manager Notebooks
French football is back, with Paris Saint-Germain hunting to win a fifth league title in a row.
Fantasy football players will be mourning the loss of Zlatan Ibrahimović, who has been the biggest star in the league in recent years, with PSG having to fill the hole left by the enigmatic Swede.
PSG’s new manager Unai Emery still has a phenomenally strong squad to call upon and they remain big favourites for the title, although clubs like Lyon and Monaco will push hard for success.
Here are five of the key Ligue 1 players fantasy football users should keep in mind this season.
Ángel Di María
With Ibrahimovic gone – after scoring 50 goals in his final season at PSG – there will be more pressure on the shoulders of Argentina international Ángel Di María, who is likely to become the focal point of the team.
Di María produced 18 assists for PSG last year, more than anybody else in the league, and he will be a key man for Emery whether he is selected on the wing or in a central midfield role.
In addition to his superb haul of assists, Di María also racked up double figures in goals last year and regardless of his large fantasy football price tag, he will feature in a lot of players’ teams.
After an anonymous time in the Premier League, Éder arrives in Ligue 1 after a successful spell on loan at Lille at the end of last season, while he is a European Championship champion too.
It was Éder’s extra-time goal that proved to be the winner for Portugal in the final against France, providing one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition, sealing a 1-0 victory.
All eyes will now be on Éder to see whether or not he is able to maintain that level of performance on a regular basis. Éder scored six goals in 12 starts for Lille last season – earning a permanent move to the club – and that ratio will be hard for him to maintain over a whole campaign.
Considered to be one of the finest full-backs in the league, Benjamin Mendy will be lining up for Monaco this season and if they are to push PSG hard at the top of the Ligue 1 table, he will have to be at his very best.
Mendy – who cost £11 million from Marseille – has a large price tag to live up to, but he provided excellent performances from the back to earn a 7.14 WhoScored rating last season.
For Ligue 1 fantasy football players, Mendy is likely to be one of the best defensive selections.
Another defender to be on the move this summer was Nicolas N’Koulou, who will be lining up to play for Lyon this season after he also left Marseille following their disappointing campaign.
It was a free transfer that took N’Koulou to last year’s runners-up, but the Cameroon international has the ability to take Lyon to the next level and compete much harder with PSG for the league.
Spanish sides Sevilla and Atlético Madrid were reportedly interested in signing N’Koulou, who has the strength and power to be an asset for any fantasy football user this season.
Stéphane Ruffier kept 16 clean sheets for Saint-Étienne last season and was arguably the outstanding goalkeeper in Ligue 1, helping his team to qualify for Europe against the odds.
Ruffier is closing in on 200 appearances for Saint-Étienne as he enters another season for the club, while he has also collected three caps for the French national team.
An excellent start to the season is already under Ruffier’s belt as the goalkeeper kept successive clean sheets for Saint-Étienne against AEK Athens in Europa League qualifying, with a 0-0 draw and a 1-0 victory enough to send his team into the next phase of the competition.
A concern for fantasy football users could be that Ruffier somehow managed to collect four bookings in the league last year, a ridiculously high number for a goalkeeper in any division.