Fekir, Draxler & 15 summer transfer targets in Ligue 1

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France's top flight has long been a source of low-cost, high-quality players for some of Europe's biggest clubs. Here's some who could be on the move.

  1. Gael Kakuta (Amiens)

    Once a highly rated prospect in Chelsea’s youth academy, Gael Kakuta has since globetrotted his way around a variety of clubs from Vitesse to Lazio and Sevilla to Hebei China Fortune. He is at little Amiens on loan from the CSL side and has already stated that he wants to move back to the big time, and after scoring five Ligue 1 goals and broadly impressing upon his return to Ligue 1, there is every chance that he could get his wish.

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    Karl Toko-Ekambi (Angers)

    In January, eyebrows were raised when the 25-year-old Cameroon international striker elected to turn down the opportunity to move to Brighton in the Premier League, where he was being offered four times his salary with Angers. He felt he had unfinished business at Stade Raymond Kopa, where he has scored 13 goals this season – the highest tally for a player outside Ligue 1’s top four. More interest is sure to come in the summer.

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    Malcom (Bordeaux)

    One of the breakout talents in Ligue 1 this year, Malcom is his side’s leading scorer with eight tallies, several of them spectacular. The young Brazilian has seen plenty of interest from the Premier League over the course of the season, as well as numerous other big clubs elsewhere. Bordeaux resisted offers in January, but they will not be able to in the summer as well.

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    Damien Da Silva (Caen)

    With only four years top-flight experience under his belt, it may be a little late for the centre-back to secure a really big more, but there is no doubt that the 29-year-old has been one of Ligue 1’s outstanding defensive players for several years. Not only is he solid at the back, but he carries a goal-scoring threat form set pieces and has tallied four times this season. It would not be entirely surprising to see him follow N’Golo Kante’s footsteps with a move to England.

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    Yannis Salibur (Guingamp)

    Winger Salibur has a chequered past and has seen moves to the Premier League fall through at the last minute in the past – quite literally. Little over 12 months ago, Hull tried to capture the attacker but ran out of time at the end of the transfer window. He remains an enigmatic talent and a player tracked by several clubs in England. 

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    Nabil Fekir (Lyon)

    One of Ligue 1’s outstanding performers this season, he has stepped up to the plate for Lyon superbly in the absence of Alexandre Lacazette, who moved to Arsenal. Fekir is an incredibly rounded player and supplies assists as well as goals. Given his style, the Gunners would be well advised to consider the prospect of reuniting the playmaker with his former team-mate at the Emirates.

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    Mariano Diaz (Lyon)

    In recent years, Lyon have been best known for developing their own talent before selling it on, yet they grabbed Mariano Diaz from the fringes of the Real Madrid squad last summer for a bargain fee of €8 million and have set the attacker on the road to becoming a star. A penalty box poacher, he has 15 goals to his name in his first Ligue 1 season and still holds hope of sensationally breaking into Spain’s World Cup squad.

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    Florian Thauvin (Marseille)

    The fact that Thauvin flopped horribly at Newcastle should not put teams off giving the 25-year-old another shot at the big time. He has matured greatly since his previous spell in England and has began making up for lost time in his career. Fifteen league goals plus a further 10 assists are elite-level numbers and have put him in contention for a place in France’s World Cup squad. Bayern Munich have been linked with a move for him.

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    Thomas Lemar (Monaco)

    It was somewhat surprising that Thomas Lemar did not leave Monaco in January given reports of Arsenal’s interest, but it seems almost certain that the attacking midfielder will depart Stade Louis II in the summer. He’s not enjoyed a particularly strong season, hampered by injuries, speculation and several changes of position, but Europe’s best have seen what he can potentially do and are ready to splash out.

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    Fabinho (Monaco)

    Manchester United and others have been courting Fabinho for several seasons now, and while he remains a keystone of the Monaco side, Leonardo Jardim’s men may well feel that it is time for the Brazilian to move on, particularly with Youri Tielemans waiting in the wings to take over. A deadly penalty taker, the holding midfielder would not disgrace himself anywhere in Europe.

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    Jerome Roussillon (Montpellier)

    Montpellier have had one of the meanest defences in France and left-back Roussillon has had his part to play in their solidarity. However, it has been his impressive contribution going forward that has really caught the eye, with the 25-year-old as creative as anyone in this defensively minded team. He may be flying under the radar at the moment but will surely not for much longer.

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    Mario Balotelli (Nice)

    Out of contract at the end of the season, Balotelli has been absolutely rejuvenated during his time with Nice and has attracted interest from Italy. With a more mature attitude, both on and off the field, the forward has benefitted immensely for his time on France’s Cote d’Azur, and while it may not be the shrewdest move to depart, it seems inevitable. 

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    Julian Draxler (PSG)

    Since the arrival of Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain, speculation has swirled over the Germany international’s future. His game time has been reduced at Parc des Princes, and while he has shown glimpses of undoubted ability, he has not consistently impressive when given the opportunity. As a consequence, he could well be in his final weeks in the French capital.

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    Javier Pastore (PSG)

    PSG’s longest serving player, Pastore is a player built for a different era of football, when grace rather than physicality ruled the roost. Nevertheless, he has done well when called upon this season, although he has played fewer than 900 minutes of Ligue 1 football to date. He is an artist who deserved to be playing more regularly, and as such it seems it is time for the 28-year-old to move on.

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    Ismaila Sarr (Rennes)

    Turned down Barcelona last summer in order to move to Rennes, where he felt he could develop more due to greater game time. Head coach Sabri Lamouchi has described him as his team’s Neymar, and he is frequently targeted by opposing defenders, who adopt a heavy-handed attitude to policing him. He could not be blamed for seeking safety in a league with a less physical approach, and there will be teams out there willing to offer him it.