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Ligue 1 preview: Neymar, Mbappe, Balotelli & Payet to star in new French season

08:00 BST 04/08/2017
Dani Alves Neymar Brazil
With some of the biggest stars in world football making France their home, Goal looks ahead to what lies in store in Ligue 1 this coming season

The intrigue surrounding the Neymar transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain has given Ligue 1 a whole new dynamic ahead of the 2017-18 season as France prepares to welcome the most expensive footballer in history.

Monaco 11/2 to successfully defend Ligue 1 crown

That jaw-dropping move, which was confirmed on Thursday, follows a year that saw Leonardo Jardim's Monaco tear up the script by pipping PSG to the title and progressing deep into the Champions League, while a Mario Balotelli-led Nice almost stole into second place against the odds.

With the arrival of Neymar and the likes of Balotelli sticking around, the French football landscape is looking more fascinating than ever before.

Games kick off on August 4 and Goal has your complete guide to the upcoming Ligue 1 season.


The undoubted star of Ligue 1 this season will be Brazil icon Neymar. PSG were so keen to bring the 25-year-old to the Parc des Princes that they forked out an astounding €222 million for his services, which makes him the most expensive footballer of all time.

Pastore offers Neymar No. 10 shirt

However, Neymar will also have a glittering supporting cast in France, not least among his new team-mates, with the likes of Edinson Cavani, Dani Alves and Marco Verratti part of a formidable looking PSG squad. The Parisiens also boast the talents of Thiago Silva, Angel Di Maria and World Cup winner Julian Draxler.

Last year's Ligue 1 breakout star was Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe, who scored 26 goals in all competitions, including six in the Champions League. While Monaco have lost Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Bernardo Silva to the Premier League, Mbappe remains at Stade Louis II. 

If the club can fend off interest from Europe's elite, the 18-year-old should continue to light up the competition, ably assisted, of course, by El Tigre, Radamel Falcao.

A host of big-name players are dotted around the league, with former AC Milan and Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli committing to a new contract with Lucien Favre's Nice, while precocious Netherlands international Memphis Depay is flourishing at Lyon. Further south, Dimitri Payet has settled back in to the familiar surroundings of the Stade Velodrome, where he has been handed the captaincy.

The likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso may have found new pastures in England and Germany with Arsenal and Bayern Munich respectively, but France remains fertile ground for star attractions nonetheless.


In the UK, viewers can tune in to Ligue 1 games live on television on BT Sport, as well as stream online via the BT Sport app. In Ireland, Ligue 1 games are available to watch on eirSport. 

Goal also has rights to games and you can view the latest highlights at the Ligue 1 section of our site, as we share the best moments from each weekend of action. 

UK TV channel UK online stream
BT Sport BT Sport app

In the US, beIn Sports will broadcast Ligue 1 games live and users will also be able to stream games using the beIn CONNECT service.

US TV channel US online stream
beIn Sports beIn CONNECT


Date Match Time TV?
Friday Monaco vs Toulouse 19:45 Yes
Saturday PSG vs Amiens 16:00 No
Saturday Lyon vs Strasbourg 19:00 No
Saturday Metz vs Guingamp 19:00 No
Saturday Montpellier vs Caen 19:00 No
Saturday Saint-Etienne vs Nice 19:00 Yes
Saturday Troyes vs Rennes 19:00 No
Sunday Lille vs Nantes 14:00 Yes
Sunday Angers vs Bordeaux 16:00 Yes
Sunday Marseille vs Dijon 20:00 Yes

*All times in BST.


The historic Neymar transfer to PSG was completed on August 3, but it is unlikely that he will make his debut against Amiens on August 5.

PSG fans clamour to see Neymar

However, with the announcement made and loose ends set to be tied up, the Brazilian will be officially unveiled as a PSG player on Friday, before being presented to the capital club's fans ahead of Saturday's opening game at the Parc des Princes.

When he eventually makes his PSG bow, Neymar will wear the No. 10 jersey, which has previously been worn by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and was voluntarily offered up by Javier Pastore. 


Neymar to PSG is not the only mega-money transfer saga in Ligue 1 this season. The pursuit of Mbappe by Europe's top clubs had dominated headlines until the Neymar move began to gather momentum, but it is still a live issue.

Monaco are very much determined to keep hold of the teenager, who has witnessed some of the club's best players leave after their title success, and they have even hit out at clubs for making illegal approaches to the France international, encouraging FIFA to take disciplinary action.

All the latest transfer talk and rumours

Having already lost the likes of Mendy, Bakayoko and Silva, Leonardo Jardim understandably wishes to retain the services of Mbappe, but a lucrative financial deal and the lure of clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester City may prove too much to resist. Zinedine Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for the 18-year-old, but Goal understands that Man City are preparing a world record bid.

Mbappe's future is very much unresolved and, while he is still with Monaco, that could possibly change in the near future.


Ligue 1 2016-17 (top six):

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Monaco 38 30 5 3 107 31 +76 95
2 PSG 38 27 6 5 83 27 +56 87
3 Nice 38 22 12 4 63 36 +27 78
4 Lyon 38 21 4 13 77 48 +29 67
5 Marseille 38 17 11 10 57 41 +16 62
6 Bordeaux 38 15 14 9 53 43 +10 59

Monaco won their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years last season, breaking PSG's stranglehold on the division in the process. It was the principality club's eighth time winning the league and they did so with a game to spare, eventually finishing eight points clear of the Parisiens.

PSG had won Ligue 1 the previous four seasons, but they were comfortably second best to Monaco and they were in a serious fight with Nice for the runners-up spot. Lucien Favre's energetic Cote D'Azure outfit even inflicted a 3-1 defeat on the capital club during an intense run-in period.

Neymar to bring Champions League glory to PSG

Edinson Cavani finished the season as the league's top scorer, hitting a high of 35 goals in 36 appearances and winning the Player of the Year award in the process, while Mbappe was crowned Young Player of the Year for his efforts with Monaco. Alexandre Lacazette was a distant second to Cavani in the goal-scoring charts with 28 in 30 games for Lyon, who finished 11 points behind Nice in fourth.

Meanwhile, Saint-Etienne's wait for Ligue 1 glory continues after the most successful club in the competition's history finished ninth. Les Verts, who have won 10 Ligue 1 titles, have not clinched the league since 1981.

Lorient, Nancy and Bastia were the three teams relegated to Ligue 2, with Bastia also suffering demotion to the Championnat Nacional - the third tier of French football - due to financial problems.