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Top 10 Bargain Buys From Ligue 1

 • by Andrew Gibney
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When it comes to the January transfer window, bargains within the English leagues are hard to find.

Everyone is jostling for their place in the table and are loathe to sell good players to one another, unless you pay a huge fee in the way of compensation.

It’s no surprise that clubs look elsewhere, with across the channel in France being one of the most popular areas monitored by English clubs.

Rather than pick up the top names, players who will be heavily coveted by the biggest sides in the Premier League, we’ve looked closer and highlighted ten names who could be signed from Ligue 1 for less than £15million this winter.

Yannis Salibur – Right Wing – Guingamp

Back in January of last year, as Marco Silva was trying to turnaround Hull City’s fortunes, a move for Guingamp’s Salibur collapsed on deadline day, with both clubs unable to get it over the line late into the night.

Going into that week, the winger, who loves cutting in from the right onto his deadly left foot, had five goals and two assists in Ligue 1.

After the briefest of spells dwelling on what might have been, the 26-year-old picked himself back up to score three more and add another four assists last season.

In two years at the Breton club, the former Lille youngster had contributed to an incredible 25 goals.

A slow beginning to the new term means he has just one goal in six starts, but all the attributes are still there: pace and power off the flank, he leads his team in shots, key passes and completed dribbles.

Available on a free this summer, Guingamp would rather do business now than see him leave for nothing.

Ole Selnæs – Defensive Midfield – Saint-Étienne

The Norwegian arrived in France back in January 2016 and it has taken some time for the midfielder to settle in his new surroundings.

Now, under the guidance of new boss, Óscar García, the 23-year-old has begun to show his qualities.

Selnæs leads Saint-Etienne with 1.5 interceptions per game, but also averages 2.8 tackles in the Spanish coach’s pressing style.

With 47.3 passes per game, he is key to Les Verts when on the ball and he has the vision to pick out long, ranging passes.

Still young, he is contracted until 2020 but if pressed, the French club could be convinced to sell.

Not since Kurt Zouma and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left in 2013 has the club received more than £10million for a player. Selnæs is a hard-working, stylish defensive midfielder who would adapt well to the English game.

Jérôme Roussillon – Left-back – Montpellier

Jerome Roussillon is a target for Crystal Palace

Linked with a move to Crystal Palace last January, Sam Allardyce was keen on the left-back, as first reported by Football Whispers. The Eagles moved for Jeffrey Schlup and Patrick van Aanholt instead and Roussillon remained at Montpellier.

He finished the campaign with 2.1 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 2.6 clearances –impressive numbers from the 24-year-old full-back.

He has continued that this term, putting up 1.9, 0.6 and 2.1 respectively. He already has an assist this season, matching his total from the previous campaign.

Gone is the threat of Steve Mounié, so La Paillade’s attacking options have been reduced.

Offers of around £5million could be enough to tempt the Ligue 1 club, and Roussillon would have a chance to show the Eagles what they missed out on.

Jordan Ikoko – Right-back – Guingamp

The former Paris Saint-Germain youth star has finally found a permanent home after he spent three separate years out on loan from the capital club. He moved to Guingamp permanently in 2016 and has blossomed ever since.

After starting 25 times last term, Ikoko has begun strongly again this time round.

In the opening eight games he has seen his numbers for tackles won, interceptions and clearances improve and he has already matched his total of one assist from last season.

Able to get up and down the flank with ease, he is as much as asset to Antoine Kombouaré in attack as he is in defence.

When he joined, he signed up until 2019 and, although he might fancy staying put for another season at least, his rampaging, energetic style will attract attention in England and a seven-figure bid would be enough to force Guingamp’s hand.

Diego Carlos – Centre-back – Nantes

Claudio Ranieri may have had a wry smile on his face after finding out that Craig Shakespeare had been sacked as manager of Leicester City.

The Italian boss has moved on and is currently exceeding expectations with Nantes in Ligue 1.

Les Canaris are currently fifth after eight games and a huge part of that has been the defensive play of Brazilian Carlos.

The 24-year-old, playing just his first full season in France, has been a leader, averaging 3.5 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 6.2 clearances per game.

Managers want flexibility these days and with his cultured left foot, pace and intelligence, Diego Carlos is comfortable in a flat four or on the left of a three-man backline. Perfect for a league that is happily reverting back to 3-5-2 or 3-4-3  this season.

Impressing as one of the better defenders in France, Carlos looks a strong all-rounder. Ranieri’s feats are attracting more and more attention and with that takes away any chance of Nantes keeping their superb defender under-wraps for much longer.

Guessouma Fofana – Centre-midfield – Amiens

This 24-year-old midfielder from Amiens could be one of the revelations of the season.

The central midfielder is somewhat of a mix between Tiemoué Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante of Chelsea.

Fofana has long, rangy legs and leads starters in his team with 3.5 interceptions per game, plus 2.5 tackles. He has the footwork to jink past opponents and the acceleration and power to leave them for dead.

Out of contract in 2018, the midfielder had adapted well after helping his club win promotion to Ligue 1. No one expected they would be able to achieve much this term, but, up until a bad run, they were holding their own.

The small side from the north of France can’t afford to lose Fofana for nothing. Ligue 1 sides will already be alerted to his situation, he could become one of the steals of the winter window.

Alban Lafont – Goalkeeper – Toulouse

Arsenal target Alban Lafont

Last term, a spectacular display by Lafont against PSG caught all the headlines and instantly saw him linked with a move to Arsenal.

This season, he’s already made 29 saves for Toulouse – only two goalkeepers in Ligue 1 have more and they edge ahead with 30 so far this term.

With three clean sheets in nine games for Toulouse, his record of conceding 15 goals this season is skewed by the six they lost against Edinson Cavani and co.

It feels like the teenager has been around for a long time, but still just 18 years old. He is still learning the game and is expected to develop a phenomenal talent – Lafont has long been touted as the heir to Hugo Lloris’ throne in France.

Lafont still has everything to prove in his career, but he has a commanding presence, he is a good sweeper and has wonderful reflexes – qualities you just can’t pass up.

Toulouse wouldn’t be willing sellers, but if you want a young goalkeeper for under £20million, Lafont is your man.

Ramy Bensebaini – Centre-back – Rennes

This 22-year-old Algerian international is as versatile as they come. Signed from Montpellier in 2015, Bensebaini has shown his hand as a centre-back, full-back and a defensive midfielder. It was no surprise then when new Lille boss Marcelo Bielsa picked him out as a transfer target in the summer.

Lille were trying to get a deal done for around £10million, but although Rennes didn’t budge, you know something in the £15million range could be enough.

He hasn’t let the transfer talk faze him and Bensebaini has continued where he left off last season, featuring four times at left-back and three in the heart of the defence.

Leading his team in tackles won with 2.9, he has averaged 1.1 interceptions and 6.4 clearances in seven appearances. He also wins 3.9 aerial duels per 90.

A player with the versatility of Bensebaini could be the ideal signing for a number of teams, especially if you need someone to help shore up your defence at the start of next year.

Valentin Rongier – Centre-midfield – Nantes

Still only 22 years old, of all the player to have played ten or more games last season, Rongier led the league in tackles won per 90 minutesPlaying in Sérgio Conceição’s 4-4-2, the defensive skills of the midfielder helped Nantes climb up to seventh place.

Still in the early stages of his career, the youngster has already bounced back from a cruciate ligament injury. He has recovered to full fitness and looks better for it.

A defence-first player, but he is always the man who sees most of the ball in Les Canaris midfield. This season, under Ranieri, he leads the team in passes per game, completing 91 per cent of his 41.8 attempts.

Always playing with his head up, he can pick balls over the top when the attack make smart runs, but he can also slip balls in behind, demonstrating great vision.

Loathe to lose him in January – his current contract runs until 2020 – it would take a big bid to prise him away from Nantes. But as a valuable asset, they may be tempted by an offer of around £15million.

Samuel Grandsir – Left Wing/Right Wing – Troyes

Troyes are not struggling as much as many imagined this season, part of that is down to the forward play of striker Adama Niane and midfielder Grandsir.

The 21-year-old wide man has picked up two goals and two assists in just eight starts, making him one of the Champagne side’s most prolific contributors.

His numbers don’t jump off the page, just one shot per game, 1.1 key passes and 1.6 dribbles, but his in-game impact has been huge.

Grandsir showed composure inside the box to finish with his left against Metz and then great close control to wriggle free past the Rennes defence for his second.

Capable with both feet, he doesn’t panic in possession and looks assured beyond his years.

Still extremely young, but worth a punt if you have space in your squad for a promising winger looking to grow into a star.

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