Ligue 1 Mercato Preview: Part II

Will Obraniak be leaving Lille?

A few days ago we started a series about the upcoming winter transfer window. We are continuing this special today looking at our next four teams, Le Mans, Lens, Lille and Lorient.

 Le Mans U 72 Needs: Goaltending and defense

As has been reported on this site a number of times, Le Mans is going through a rebirth. They changed their name, they changed their logo and most recently they changed their coach. But will the club fork up the money in order for them to stay in the top league.

Up front, Le Mans are set with both Anthony La Tallec and Thorstein Helstad. Both know how to put the ball in the back of the net. Though Helstad has played less than impressive this year, both players have a combined total of eight goals this season. In the midfield Frederic Thomas has been playing alright, but  attacking midfielder Modibo Maiga has been underperforming. But after that, the talent on the team seems to fall.

If Le Mans plans on making some changes, they have to do more than just changing their coach. Their back line needs to be strengthened as well as their goaltender.

The biggest disappointment for the team this year has to be the play of goaltender Didier Ovono. The Gabonese goaltender has not been impressive since coming to Ligue 1 this season. And as far as their backups, they are not that impressive either.

But with these woes, will Le Mans pay to get quality players? There are a number of experienced goalkeeper that, I’m sure, can be pulled away from their current clubs and go to Le Mans. But we will see if Le Mans will make any concrete moves.

 RC Lens needs – depth

On the surface, Lens is an alright team. They aren’t great, but they aren’t bad either. They can hold their own on the pitch and are currently sitting at a midtable position, where many people expected them to be at this point of the season.

But once you go deep into the team, there seems to be a lot of questions. Like Le Mans, many Lens supporters wonder if their team will put up the money to bring in quality players. This is a team that did win the league title in 1998 and were runners-up in 2002. So, they do have a history. But in recent years they have sold more players than they have brought in, which in turn is making Lens a team that are flirting with possible relegation, even after promotion to Ligue 1 last year.

Specifically, it is hard to tell where Lens could use improvement. They are average in scoring and they are average in defense. But if any of their players go down, their backups are questionable. Therefore, building a deeper team might the what Lens should target during this winter transfer window.

 LOSC Lille needs – to sell some players

Right now, Lille is on fire. In their last five Ligue 1 games, they have scored 19 goals. That is unheard of, especially in French league play. But this year anything is possible.

Lille started off the season poorly and many people expected them to pick up their game. And they have by currently sitting in third place in the table. Rudi Garcia has his players playing well. Therefore, picking up any player might not be the smartest move right now, especially since their team is ‘in the zone’.

On the other hand, moving some players out of the club might have its advantages. So far this year, Robert Vittek has played less than impressive. In eleven games, the Slovakian striker has only been able to knock in one goal. And with the emergence of Pierre-Alain Frau, Eden Hazard and Gervinho as the club’s ‘go to’ guys, Vittek is becoming an expensive bench-warmer for Lille. I’m sure he could fetch a good price with another club that needs him.

Another player that could possibly give the club some extra money is Polish midfielder Ludovic Obraniak. Obraniak is out of contract with the club at the end of the current season and moving him should be a priority for Lille. While he has started more games than not, it is still questionable if the Pole is a part of Garcia’s future plans, especially with the spectacular play of  Hazard, Yohan Cabaye, Florent Blamont (like usual) and others. If Lille don’t plan on signing him, they should look to get some money for him now, or they might lose out on some cash.

 Lorient needs – depth

Until recently Lorient had been playing quite impressive. The offensive game looked spot on, while the defense was working well also. Still, some coaching decisions (like not starting Kevin Gameiro or Marama Vahirua against Bordeaux) sometime seems to be questionable.

On the surface, they do have a good team. They have two great strikers up front, they have a solid back line, and they have a midfield that can both hold the ball well or push forward on the attack.

But once you get past the starting line up, then team drops a bit, which is why they are currently sitting in 10th place instead of 3rd, like they were a few weeks ago.

While the striking depth looks strong (with Sigamary Diawarra and James Fanchone), the midfield and defender positions lack such depth. This is where Lorient should concentrate most of their winter transfer efforts. Only five of their midfielders have played in more than 10 games as either a starter or a sub. And only four defenders have played in 10 or more in the same capacities. Christian Gourcuff needs to add some depth so that he can give some of his players some rest.

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3 Responses

  1. Yeah, Lorient really need a midfield. “Gameiruha” does everything, providing all the goals and all the assists for eachother. When either has an off game/doesn’t play, Lorient are in trouble.

  2. I am just shocked that Gourcuff didn’t start them last weekend. How do you go into Bordeaux and NOT start them. Amazing!

  3. Well, he probably assumed he was going to lose, so he rested them for the “winable” games since the match schedule is extremely congested.

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