Ligue 1 Mercato Preview: Part III

Are Ben Arfa's days numbered at Marseille?

In this series we will look at the following teams and the winter transfer: Lyon, Marseille, Monaco, Montpellier.

 Olympique Lyonnais needs: Central defense
As has been well documented on this website by our Lyon contributor Martin Michelot, the biggest problem that Lyon has right now is their defense. While Aly Cissokho looks to be the real deal (even if Milan say otherwise, by disputing his health, which was Lyon’s gain), the central defense seems to be questionable. Boumsong and Cris, while decent, play on an inconstant level. One day they can have a decent game. The next it can be really bad. Still Cris seems to have more positive games than Boumsong.

The same thing can be said for their right-back Anthony Reveillere. There are times that he plays a great game. On the other hand, he can have really bad matches as well. Therefore, a near overhaul of their back line is really needed.

Unlike the other teams that we have mentioned in the previous parts of this series, Lyon can spend a lot of money. In the last transfer window, Lyon was the third highest spenders in the transfer market next to Real Madrid and Manchester City. Therefore, they can go after some big name players and stock up their defense. Teams like Lorient, Auxerre and Toulouse have a number of defensive players that they might get rid of…but it won’t be cheap.

Still, the question is if Lyon has written off this season yet. If they have, then they can just look at the next transfer window and decide what to do then. Otherwise, if they feel that they still have a chance for, at least, a Champions League spot, they really need to look at dipping into that market now. So, depending on the club’s priority, spending might be a high priority in the coming weeks.

 Olympique Marseillie Needs: Striker
The “Marseille Story” of 2009 is an interesting one. They haven’t looked like the best team this season, yet they are still in 4th place and looking to push forward for a Champions League spot. And, like Lyon, they spent a lot of money in the off-season doing it.

But unlike Lyon, Marseille fans have been patient with their players. Lucho, Brandao, Gaby Heinze and Fernando Morientes have been disappointing, if not non-existent, this season. Hatem Ben Arfa seems to be sparing with his coach more than being played. And their only useful player this season, Mamadou Niang, will be out for at least another month.

Lucho Gonzales and Gaby Heinze both can turn their seasons around. Both have played at the top-level in the past and have shown what they are worth. Morientes and Brandao, on the other hand, have been extremely unproductive this season, with Morientes spending most of this time on the bench. Maybe these two players would be better players somewhere else? Who knows.

Still, the problem with Marseille is their striking force, which only consists of one injured players. There has been talk in the last few weeks of returning Rennes striker Jimmy Briand being sought by Marseille. This story seems to gain more and more steam as the weeks pass. Briand would be a perfect addition to Marseille. But if OM are not able to secure the services of Briand, they should still look at another striker. Like Lyon, they have the money to throw around, which might cause a club to act on moving a player where, in a normal case, they might not.

AS Monaco Needs – Striker
When 80% of your goals come from two players, you know that you are in trouble. And even though Nene is a great player, they need to look at expanding their striking force.

South Korean Park Chu-Young continues to be one of the most underrated players in Ligue 1 this season, tacking on six goals so far. But he continues to player alone up front. If they could pair him up with someone, he might become even more deadly.

At the start of the year, that person was expected to be Eidur Gudjohnsen. But since the Icelandic international joined the team, he has been horrible. Like Morientes as Marseille, Gudjohnsen has become more of a bench warmer than a productive player. And most people expect him to be gone next summer. But will he be able to make Monaco money in the transfer? That is a question that is hard to answer at this point.

Unlike Marseille, Monaco don’t have the money. Even though they do have a storied program, and tax advantages that any player would like, especially in today’s European tax climate, they might not have the money to transfer in a huge name into their squad. Maybe a player like Morientes or Cavenaghi would fit in well at Monaco. Maybe not. Still, another striker is what is needed at Monaco.

 Montpellier Needs: Depth
Like other smaller teams that seem to be making a charge at the front-runners, Montpellier needs to increase the depth of their team.

On paper, most people have never heard of these players before. Still, the likes of Alberto Costa, Karim Ait-Fana, Emir Spahic and others have shown that they are Ligue 1 material. And MHSC look like they are strong contenders for a European spot in the table after their 2-1 win against Lyon at the Stade Gerland last week.

But like any good team that looks to improve, they need to work on their depth. Most of their players are young, so they do have a leg up on most of the competition. Now they might want to look at getting some experienced players to help guide the youngsters to a good Ligue 1 finish. But it is highly unlikely that Montpellier will make any moves, as the money they have available might be a lot less than most teams.

They have never been a superpower in Ligue 1, even with players like Laurent Blanc, Eric Cantona or Carlos Valderrama. But the 2009-10 season might see that change.

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5 Responses

  1. I think Montpellier just need a good DM and a keeper. Apart from that they are in very good shape.

  2. Aulas will not spend money on defense if he isn’t getting anyone than we already have.
    Plus, good defenders are a scarcity right now. And I’m not sure there are many that will want to come to a club in crisis, where the head coach has his head on the block.
    The president also repeated that because of the new legislation on taxes for pro players, clubs might not be able to afford as many players as before.

  3. I just put up what the teams need, not what they will get 🙂 No Santa here.

  4. And Rami just said no to Lyon. I don’t blame him. Plus, I don’t know how well Lyon supporters would take the signing of another Lille players.

  5. Don’t mind the typo in my previous comment.

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