Two teams tied at the top. Third placed team sitting behind by three points. Other teams have strengthened their squad in January. This could be one of the most fascinating title races in recent years. Welcome to Ligue 1 – the home of French club football.
After round 22, Paris Saint-Germain, the reigning champions and title favourites in the Ligue 1 betting odds, find themselves third in the league, and three points behind Monaco and OGC Nice. Both the clubs are determined to break PSG’s monopoly. However, once again, PSG have flexed their muscle in the transfer window to add significant depth to their squad which could prove to be crucial at the end of the season.
They have spent around €30m in signing Goncalo Guedes from Benfica. The Portuguese winger is one of the bright young talents in world football and there’s no doubt that he will add quality to the star studded PSG side. However, the biggest signing of the January transfer window, is surely Julian Draxler.
The 23-year-old is a top talent and PSG paid around €40m for his signature. Draxler is a regular member of the German national team, and has a wealth of experience in European games already. He is extremely skilful and can play in all three positions upfront. It comes as a surprise that none of the major Premier League clubs made a formal approach to sign him.
Monaco pulled off a smart deal to sign Brazilian full-back Jorge from Flamengo, beating off competition from Manchester City, Liverpool and Inter Milan. The league leaders reportedly paid €8.5m to the Brazilian club for his services.
Marseille made a big headline towards the end of the transfer window by signing Dimitri Payet from West Ham for a reported fee of around £25m. Payet, who joined West Ham in 2015 from Marseille, shocked everyone when he decided to not play for the Hammers again. West Ham were reluctant to sell their prized asset, as Payet was handed a new contract only recently. The club did their best to prevent the transfer from happening and even rejected two bids from Marseille. However, after understanding that the player wants to be reunited with his family, and is steadfast in his decision to leave, West Ham finally agreed to a deal.
Another player who has left the Premier League to play in France is Memphis Depay. The Dutch winger struggled to make a strong impression under Jose Mourinho, and he was not in the first team plans of the Manchester United manager. He was certain to leave United, but the Red Devils were looking to squeeze the best deal out of him. They rejected two bids from Lyon before agreeing on a £21.6m deal.
PSG have added depth and quality to the squad, but with European commitments to focus on at the same time can they withstand the pressure in the title race? Will we see a different winner this time? Whatever it is, we have a fascinating second half of the season to look forward to.