Ligue 1 has been on the back burner for a while for obvious reasons.
In real life we can make jokes about whether they ever really had a proper league at all.
But on FI we love a good Farmer’s League where the big hitters can smash the minnows week in week out.
It’s a good time to put Ligue 1 players back on the radar. It may shock some that the new Ligue 1 season actually gets underway on the 21st August. Just over 3 weeks away!
And we have PSG and Lyon in action in the CL even earlier than that. (There are no Ligue 1 teams left in the Europa).
One thing to note is that the CL Final Date clashes with the first round of Ligue 1 fixtures on 23rd August. There are 9 Ligue 1 fixtures that day then the CL final in the evening.
Now, the CL teams get a bonus to their scores but as an interesting point with 18 clubs versus 2 it is not unlikely that the winner on the CL Final Gold Day actually comes from Ligue 1, particularly if it is a tight final.
This is interesting although not a major problem. We shouldn’t be going all in on just one match day anyway – as I said in last week’s CL/Europa preview any run in these competitions can be considered a bonus to players we want anyway.
Another important thing to note is that as the first League back they are going to benefit significantly more than most from the very generous IPD dividends. They’ll get 5 full match days of it before it’s over.
So loading up nice and early on Ligue 1 players feels like a great idea.
My advice on making any IPD focused buys would be don’t stress so much on timing your buy to get a good 30 day window – this boxes you in. Instead – go early and consider selling to people buying late.
It’s often easier to predict trader behaviour than it is to predict football results!
Who has qualified for the CL and Europa from Ligue 1?
Something important to nail down early as I can’t understate how crucial CL and Europa involvement is going to be to the desirability of players for the season ahead (hopefully I haven’t given the amount I bang on about it).
I said this in Key Strategy and it would have been true anyway. But the recent announcements and Team of the Month make this even more important than it was when I wrote Key Strategy.
Rennes (Qualifying Round)
Lyon can still qualify for the CL if they win it in August (Cough).
Lyon can still qualify for the Europa if they beat PSG in the Coupe de la Ligue Final this coming Friday. (More credible).
If Lyon fail to win the Coupe de la Ligue Final the last Europa spot will go to Reims.
Ligue 1 Preview
I’m going to do this article just like Scouting, then move it to the Scouting page in August. I’d do it now but I don’t want it to get lost when I archive July.
A very attractive side that tick every box. Strong performance side playing weak teams most weeks. CL in August and for next year too. What’s not to like?
Neymar the obvious main man and an obvious beneficiary of the dividend increase and Team of the Month. After long periods injured I am not sure people quite realise how strong he is. I expect him to be challenging pretty much every game.
The only thing he lacks is Nations League and Euro 2021 but that is forgivable, particularly in early Season with so many positive things ahead.
As per recent months I remain of the view that he is one of the best Premium holds around and one of the few who really justify the money paid.
The other star draw Mbappé is more tricky. His recent injury is a short term blow but at least if PSG progress he has a chance of making the Semi Final.
For FI purposes he isn’t actually world beating. What concerns me is that he is barely getting his head above water at PSG. That’s about the easiest platform you can possibly get for performance purposes.
The problem holders have is that whilst he will almost certainly improve with age, that inevitable move to a bigger stage comes with problems. A tougher league will hurt him as he is unlikely to be smashing in 2-3 goals with the same regularity.
He’s far from a no hoper in fact he has promising signs. But the price assumes success so even if everything goes right the value isn’t brilliant. I don’t think it’s an awful hold and there is always the chance of hitting a jackpot like an unexpected Liverpool move.
I would pay £7-8 but I think for £10+ this is just too obvious and there are too many question marks to be paying top dollar for my taste.
Icardi is looking fantastic value at the £1.50 mark, and those very generous IPDs are a turbo boost. He can easily return 4-5 goals over 5-6 matches when in form, and he is in form a lot. An obvious IPD target still at a decent price. I like this pick a lot to take into the new season.
Di Maria is such a strong player and this time last year was one of my most profitable picks. A year makes a big difference for an older player though so we can’t always just repeat our same old tricks we have to adapt constantly.
With a longer contract he’d be an easy yes but as things stand it is set to expire in 2021. The gossip is he intends to stay. I’d be wary of signing him up before an extension was agreed.
However. At just £1.07 after this generous dividends announcement it is tempting. It would not be outrageous if he returned 30-40% of that value by late September in dividends I jest not.
And yet traders are always going to be twitchy on a player like this so any kind of injury or rotation and you could be in trouble. If you are going to buy Di Maria then now is the moment but this is one for the advanced traders who are comfortable with some risk.
Marquinhos the clear pick at the back. He slots into midfield often enough to win but probably not often enough to get himself reclassified. £1.53 or up to £1.60 is clear value for a consistent challenger at this age.
Navas is a capable keeper coming in at in my ratings, so he’s in my top 10. Without much competition in the coming weeks and a budget 61p price… that’s solid value especially with a clean sheet promotion on.
Those are the big hitters. There are some others who are in with a chance.
Sarabia has been improving in 2020. His main problem is that most of his goals have come in the Cup and have gone under the radar. He has scored 3 and assisted 1 in PSG’s friendlies this month though.
In truth he looks a bit lightweight in the midfield category but given his goals and assists output and the limited competition on the way, his 95p bid for a short term punt over 4-5 weeks looks solid to me.
A better case for Verratti can be made now that TOTM exists. You can see him nicking a TOTM slot particularly early on and he can win with limited competition. For under £1 he’s another decent short term punt. I think there are better targets out there though. Even with TOTM we should not get over excited for high baseline players – they are still going to get trashed by players who score.
Marseille have been fairly quiet on FI this season outside of Payet’s occasional heroics. With CL football next year, and the return of FI friendly Thauvin, we may hear more from them.
Thauvin has been injured for much of the season, and returned just in time to see the season suspended. It was possible to make a tidy profit on him regardless as traders, somewhat predictably, buy injured players sometimes more than ones who are playing.
In Ligue 1 friendlies this month he’s scored and assisted 2 in just over 90 minutes, so he shows signs of picking up where he left off. Very capable performance player and my rating is high yet not unreasonable.
Certainly, he looks a great player to take into next season and we can evaluate how he is getting on after the big injury. France minutes are a bonus and moving the Euros helps him. Could be a big year if he establishes for France and possibly plays his way to a big transfer by next Summer.
Payet has got interesting again. 33 he may be. But he just extended his contract by 2 years until 2024, accepting a massive pay cut to keep playing. That’s 4 years away.
He also happens to be brilliant for FI. Better even than Thauvin I would say. Very interesting with Marseille in the CL this year. In this months friendlies he’s already scored and assisted in just over 90 minutes.
With the dividend increase and IPD promotion, plus that whopping contract… I actually really like the pick despite the age. If you are picking him up for 90p on a bid he can very easily return much more than that in dividends over a couple of seasons.
Whilst you’d generally sell at some point you can actually make a case for just holding him into retirement for this money. The main risk you run is that career ending injury. So this isn’t for everyone. To be fair though he is not a particularly injury prone player, having missed just 26 games in the last 5 seasons.
An interesting trade and for the brave traders I like it. If we see him winning and rising to £1.20-£1.40 in the next few months I would not be at all surprised.
I would not underestimate Benedetto either given the IPD promotion. He’s 30 but he has scored 11 goals this season which tend to come in clumps. Available on a bid for just under 60p? Solid value as a short term pick to take into the restart.
Outside of those there isn’t much interest.
Rongier is the sort of player that a Twitter spreadsheet warrior might try to sucker some into because he has some decent stats and a high average score. It’s very unlikely to come to much though. He is capable of a very occasional win but nobody will believe it will happen again anyway.
Sanson is in a similar vein – decent goal output but he is just a bit lightweight. Actually with Ligue 1 facing little competition you could make a short term case for him. But I wouldn’t hold too long.
Rennes don’t have many worldbeaters as you’d expect, but there are some good prospects and occasional winners.
Raphinha is up there. 23 year old forward, performance suitable. Should get occasional big scores.
The main reason to hold would be a likely future big club transfer rumour. Not expecting it this Summer but maybe next. In the mean time he is a solid hold and the £1.60 mark is a decent price for a patient trader.
Martin Terrier has recently moved here from Lyon. He’s a player I was optimistic on in pre-season last year but he has endured a very difficult year of rotation and mostly poor form. There were bright spots but unfortunately for any remaining holders by January they mainly came in the cups so did not register on FI.
It wasn’t long ago he was considered one of France’s brightest young things so it will be worth watching to see if he can rejuvenate his career at Rennes. 80p on a bid is decent value but I would probably wait to see a few games and see how he gets on.
Niang, 25 year old striker at just 64p with 10 goals this season is a solid short term IPD option for the restart.
Those looking for a cheap long shot punt may like Flavien Tait. He is capable of a win every so often and with limited competition he may nick one at the restart. The 27p bid price is slightly ridiculous for a 27 year old decent player and whilst he is no world beater he only needs to win once or even just get a couple of goals to return a big percentage of the layout. A fun one.
In a similar vein Bourigeaud, 26 year old midfielder is also well capable of a few big scores per season. Not usually that exciting but with limited competition and the budget 38p price tag it’s really hard to argue against it if in the market for a good punt.
Camavinga. One of the hype buys doing the rounds off the back of “100 best wonderkids for Football Manager” and the like. Should be a high baseline player but as an FI prospect it looks very, very bleak.
He’s far too deep to be a regular challenger. He’d need a dramatic reshaping of his style of play. You can ride the hype with it at risk of the transfer falling over. But to me this is just a bad bet at this price. Lots of ways to lose and not many ways to win.
Not a huge range of options at Lille but there are a few.
Renato Sanches has shown his quality as per Scouting this season and has delivered a very tidy profit for holders. He’s shown his quality consistently in 2020. His numbers do look very good and I expect occasional challenges, but not all the time. He’s in my rankings which is good but not great.
Earlier in the season when people were down on him and you could get him under £1 I liked him. But the £2 fee now is basically fair value. He might be a good one to have for the restart but I’d probably move him on and consider holding again closer to a transfer window next season.
Bamba used to be a big deal and was expected to fill Pepe’s shoes. He hasn’t. A goal drought going back to August and just 1 goal all season makes him very hard to recommend.
Ikoné is more promising and as covered yesterday he has a shot at a big transfer, possibly to Dortmund. For the money it’s a decent bet because you can take him into the restart hopefully for some IPD and if you drop on the transfer you might do well from it.
Osimhen is almost certainly Napoli bound where he may be worth considering if he drops further in price. Beware the hype kid transfer. When they don’t get the destination people hoped for it tumbles down fast. Napoli are a good club and we may see goals but his performance credentials are very weak.
I might pay £1.50 for him but no more. Long way to fall from his high of £2.86 and this is another example of why I don’t gamble on weak transfers.
Gabriel Magalhaes is Manchester United and Arsenal linked right now. Decent enough but as a Centre Back it’s going to be very hard to actually succeed at those clubs in this scoring system. An 85p bid isn’t terrible but… this feels uninspiring at this stage.
Soumaré picks up some hype kid interest but nah. Unlikely to ever be FI relevant outside of some initial media hype. Price crashing. Deservedly so.
A few interesting options at Nice and their recent inclusion in the Europa thanks to PSG’s cup win is a boost for them.
Youcef Atal is a highly rated young player who was once heavily favoured on FI on social media AND by me too. He looked really strong but his reclassification to midfield by OPTA really killed him off. He was playing as a wing back in defence which was a big advantage. Now he is firmly at Right Back but he is a genuine RB so the goal threat is gone too.
I can’t recommend him for likely big scores but it is possible that a big transfer comes along one day. Sometimes when traders get disappointed they oversell and this may be the case here. Picking him up for £1.09 on a bid with a long term view is not a bad shout.
Amine Gouri is a strong prospect I like. I didn’t love the move away from Lyon but now that Nice have Europa football I am coming around to it. He has a much better chance of playing at Nice afterall. Very high potential player and he can win even at Nice.
It will need patience but I think anyone picking him up for £1.43 as a high potential youth player with a season hold in mind will end up happy.
Cyprien has his fans and he tends to come out of spreadsheet based analysis well. But I’ve never been keen. Price has been stagnant for a long time. Whilst he is capable of a win he is very penalty reliant whilst also relying on big transfer rumours for his price.
This is a paradox. If as a holder you get lucky and hit the right transfer to a big club what happens? Is he walking into a big club and snatching the ball off their established big hitting penalty taker? Almost certainly not. So your occasional winner just became a very, very occasional winner. That’s bad.
Coupled with the high price it’s no surprise to me that this price has stagnated for so long and the bid price is low now.
Dolberg is not normally of interest – he is fairly awful for performance purposes. But with limited competition and a huge IPD promotion he looks decent for £1. With 12 goals this season and consistent high threat scoring is not a problem he has. Could return a nice IPD haul so taking him into the restart is not a bad move.
Lyon are a strong performance club boasting big hitters like Depay so seeing them out of European competition would be a blow. They do have a credible chance to make the Europa and a lot depends on this weeks Cup Final vs PSG.
They also have the CL in August as a short term boost but away at Juventus is a tough ask. They do take a goal advantage into the game though so it is no sure thing for Ronaldo and Co.
I did a full review of Lyon just yesterday in the CL preview so I will paste that here for convenience but if you read it there is no need to do so again.
Depay should be fit and is the obvious main man. Really high quality player as readers will know. The big downer on him is a very likely lack of European football next season. He may well move to get that and the delayed transfer window helps him as he can prove fitness.
He’s back amongst the goals already in Lyon’s recent preparation friendlies and looking as strong as ever.
A little tricky but I would say yes, £4.23 is decent value for such a high quality player. Best to have a long term view in mind and consider any transfer a bonus.
Dembelé scored in the friendlies too and he has a big stage to shine on. Transfer rumours have cooled but they are still possible. Wouldn’t be a priority buy right this moment but if holding I’d stick with him for the price.
Aouar is always a contender. Can win. Has other reasons to hold him including the expected big transfer. Could break into the France team. Price has dropped recently well into value range. Not a hard decision to call him a solid choice.
Cherki signed a contract extension scotching any EPL transfer rumours. But that’s no bad thing at least at Lyon he might play. Does look FI suitable but still just 16 and £4+ is just silly. Raw social media hyping in play. If holders get lucky and he scores in this game you can always get a boost but I just don’t think it’s a particularly good bet for the cash.
At the bargain end we have Cornet and Traoré as valid options, either of which are capable of a win. Both value right now actually as the sort of player who has been slayed by the Matching Engine. But that overpessism may well bite those who are too gloomy and sell too cheap – these are good players for what you pay.
I would go for Traoré as the punt right now as he is cheaper and has some low key EPL rumours. He’s a punt sure but for around 50p not a bad one. Cornet I’d watch from the sidelines since he may permanently find himself as a wingback which is bad news for him. But back as a normal winger I’d be optimistic so one to watch.
Ben Yedder at Monaco is a consistent IPD favourite and I’ve been able to trade in and out of him a few times over the season for big profits. If a player like this is starting at £1 or so then getting them to £1.20 or £1.30 is a huge profit. And on the way you can collect big chunks of IPD too.
I think one of the mistakes people make on FI is thinking that every trade has to be sexy. You are more likely to make 30% on Ben Yedder at £1 than you are in many popular but already highly priced players.
He’s such a consistent goalscorer and only 29. It’s such low risk for the chance of a huge gain especially with the boosted IPDs on offer. He’s even scored and assisted in a warm up friendly already this month so looks like picking up where he left off.
Also at Monaco we have Gelson Martins, who started brightly at the club but faded a bit. He is most in the news lately for pushing a referee and getting a big suspension which should be lifted for the new season. A shame because he was showing really nice numbers in 2020. He is a capable winner and certainly can return some IPD.
That ban was costly for holders but the negativity has gone overboard – a bid at anything close to 60p looks good value to me, certainly to take into the restart and evaluate.
Alexander Golovin is a decent player and never far away from a transfer rumour. Had a particularly good spell in October/November, reaching £2.63 off the back of good displays. In Scouting at the time I thought that had got out of hand.
But then a long goal drought has sent him down to £1.99 or £1.80 on the bid. That looks much more sensible with occasional wins and a big transfer in mind later on. And Russia will be at the Euro of course. I note in a friendly this month he finally scored and the goal threat in general has been decent despite no competitive goals in 2020.
Looks much better value and you want to be buying a player like this when the spotlight is off them.
Malang Sarr is a decent young prospect as covered in my Under the Radar article in May. Not brilliant for FI but he does have fashionable passing ability as a CB and that can mean big transfers are inbound. He has let his contract run down and is the subject of bidding including from Arsenal as a free agent. On a 71p bid that’s not bad.
Teji Savanier has been a poster boy this season for the dangers of bad analysis. Bad analysis is sometimes worse than no analysis at all. At least the guy who hasn’t done any analysis won’t stubbornly clutch his spreadsheet and insist things will turn around. Bad analysis can give you unwarranted confidence.
Savanier comes out of lots of spreadsheet metrics well but the reason he was able to get above £2.60 was a failure of common sense mixed with social media pumping. Performance Gods do not play for Monpellier. And these kinds of sense checks need to be made when considering tempting numbers that are served up on social media.
However. If you are looking at him as a cheaper player who can win occasionally that’s fine. Because he can be an occasional winner. If you pick a time when the price is right he’s a good option. £1.40 really isn’t bad for a player who can, on his day, put up a very big score and clinch a Gold Day. The danger is believing the hype and paying too much for him, so if he does get a decent rise a holder would probably be best served by cashing in.
I knew I was missing someone. Aouchiche!
The 18 year old midfielder is now at St Etienne after he rejects PSG to get first team football. Bold. And potentially quite annoying for holders. At PSG all he’d really need to do is come on and score. At St Etienne… he has a tougher task because he’ll need to impress week in, week out.
We’ve yet to see numbers on him for St Etienne. But we can say that his PSG senior and youth numbers are very special.
For most players I’d consider a career step like this to be a hammer blow. But Aouchiche is so strong that he could win even from St Etienne and playing every week may be no bad thing for him. For youngsters with weak ability playing lots of games can be the worst thing because it exposes their weakness.
Aouchiche may just be good enough to push through anyway. Clearly, if holding, selling a few months ago would have been ideal as the price has dipped. But that was tough in this market.
As things stand, I think taking £1.77 for one of the best looking FI prospects feels cheap. I’d re-evaluate once I’ve seen some games at his new club.
Ligue 1 also offers rich pickings in the cheap IPD market. Which given Ligue 1 will get a long run as the first league to restart with the IPD promotion still active could be lucrative.
Denis Bouanga at St Etienne is a good one. Consistent threat , 13 goals in all competitions this season. And just 74p on a bid.
Andy Delort at Montpellier comes in even cheaper at 41p on a bid or 52p Blue Button. 12 goals in all competitions.
24 year old Guirassy at Amiens. 9 goals this campaign, including 4 in his last 4 matches. 66p on a bid or 88p Blue Button.
Leicester veteran Slimani, who was on loan at Monaco, could be of interest. He is getting Spurs rumours (less appealling since he could get benched a lot) but also Marseille and Lille.
Interestingly Slimani is a big victim of the season being cancelled because his numbers looked fantastic for Monaco. He is a strong IPD player but he can also win performance in general. So if he ends up at a decent Ligue 1 outfit I’d be very interested for around 50p on the bid.
Habib Diallo at Metz. 25 years old. 13 goals this campaign. 83p on a bid or £1.05 blue button.
And finally Adrien Hunou at Rennes. 11 goals this season, including 2 in his last game in March. Just 39p or 48p on a bid.
With just one goal returning 5p for these guys, they can be clearing 5-10% of their value with just one goal. They’ll get 5 big match days to do that.
The better strategy may however be to buy them early and consider selling after the first game rather than waiting for the entire 30 day window though – plenty of people will be targetting them most likely. So the only advantage you get is to buy first and sell first.