PARIS: As the Ligue 1 season comes to an end this weekend, AFP Sport looks at five stars of the French top flight who could make big-money moves when the transfer window opens:
The 22-year-old comes from the highest footballing stock, as the son of France 1998 World Cup hero Lilian Thuram and the younger brother of Marcus, who appeared for Les Bleus in their defeat by Argentina in the recent World Cup final.
Khephren Thuram is a bounding midfielder who has been a shining light for Nice in a difficult season for the club owned by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos group. His performances led to him being named in the Ligue 1 team of the season, and he made his full France debut in March. Thuram, who started his career at Monaco where he was given his debut by Thierry Henry, will play for France at the upcoming Under-21 Euro.
Nice will not want to sell a player who is under contract until 2025, but they may struggle to resist a big offer. Thuram has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain but looks destined to eventually move to the Premier League. Liverpool are the latest club rumored to be lining up a bid.
The 20-year-old striker was nominated for the Ligue 1 young player of the year prize after an outstanding season at Montpellier, for whom he has scored 17 league goals. The France Under-21 international also won the goal of the season award for one outrageous overhead kick against Lyon.
Under contract for two more years, Montpellier will be able to command a huge fee for a player who reportedly has a preference to remain in France for now even if he does depart his current club.
“We will see what the future holds. At the end of the season we will talk about it with the people involved,” the ambitious Wahi told L’Equipe earlier this year. “If I can follow in the footsteps of (Kylian) Mbappe, that would be great,” he added.
The midfielder, 24, is hardly a raw young prospect. Fofana played for France at the World Cup, coming off the bench in the final. Full international recognition for the Parisian was the reward for his impressive form at Monaco, where he enjoyed a superb partnership with Aurelien Tchouameni before the latter joined Real Madrid last year.
Fofana went from France’s national youth academy at Clairefontaine to delivering pizzas before getting his breakthrough at Strasbourg and then joining Monaco in 2020. Out of contract next year, Monaco are expected to cash in on a player who recently indicated that playing for hometown team PSG was something he “dreamed of.”
In recent years Lille have made huge profits selling their best attacking players abroad, from Eden Hazard to Nicolas Pepe and Victor Osimhen. Canada forward David is likely to be the next to be sold by the northern side, who paid a reported €27 million plus bonuses to Belgian club Gent for his services in 2020.
The 23-year-old has become Lille’s top scorer this century, helping fire them to the title in his first season and netting 26 goals in this campaign.
Fast and strong, the Brooklyn-born star did not enjoy a successful World Cup with Canada but that is unlikely to put off suitors and the Premier League appears his most likely destination.
Lens have been the sensation of the French season, securing second place behind PSG. Their success has been first and foremost collective, but several individuals have stood out. The club will hope to keep most of their squad together for an assault on the Champions League, but the team with the best defensive record in France are likely to receive offers for their standout center-backs.
The 24-year-old Danso is one of them, and the Austrian international — named in the Ligue 1 team of the year — could be keen on a move to England, After all, he was brought up there after moving to Milton Keynes aged six. He spent time in the academies at Reading and MK Dons, and had a loan spell at Southampton in 2019/20.