Ligue 1 Mercato Preview: Part IV

Put your money on Briand playing for OM next week!

In this segment of our preview into the upcoming Mercato, will start in about 36 hours, we will look at the following teams: Nancy Lorraine, Nice, PSG and Rennes.

Nancy Lorraine Needs: Goaltending and Defense

Poor Nancy, they never get any attention. They always seem to be mid-table. And if they do bad, or if they do good, nobody notices. They almost seem to be one of the most forgotten teams in Ligue 1.Still, they need to build their team up in order to move out of their current mid-table spot and challenge for a European spot.

Up front and in the midfield, they are very solid offensively. Not many people know that Youssouf Hadji has already scored seven goals this year and that six of their midfielders have at least netted one goal so far. Julien Feret, Bakaye Traore and, as of recent, Chris Malonga have provided good midfield play for Nancy as well.

Were the team really needs to build is on their back line. Most of Nancy’s players are far from what anyone would call ‘star-stellar’. While they do have the services of Moroccan defenders Abdeslam Ouaddou and Michaël Chrétien, the rest of their defense is quite weak. And, even though he is their captain, goaltender Gennaro Bracigliano hasn’t been exactly great. This back line has been responsible for allowing 29 goals this year, the 4th most in Ligue 1.

So while their scoring touch seems to be alright, their defense is far from Ligue 1 level. That is where they need to concentrate all of their efforts in the next months.

Nice Needs: Defense and scoring support

Loic Remy is a great player. Time and time again on this website we have talked about how he is one of the future stars of the French National Team. Unfortunately for Nice, he seems to be their only player.

Nice has only been able to score 20 goals this season, with seven of them coming off the foot of Loic Remy. And, in order for Nice to prove successful, they need to find other players that can punch the ball in the net as well. Tunisian Chaouki Ben Saada has had a few good games, but unable to provide the extra scoring power that Nice needs in their strikers. Therefore, someone who can threaten the goal would prove to be a great addition not only for the team, but for Loic Remy, who is carrying this team on his shoulders. And if he has to continue shouldering this burden, don’t be surprised if you see him in an Arsenal jersey in the coming years.

In addition to striking support, Nice need to build up their back line as well. While their defense might look good on paper, the play of those players has been quite poor lately. Onyekachi Apam (who has had a rough life, I must admit), has a hot temper and has shown that in their match earlier this season against Marseille. Also, Grégory Paisley (who isn’t getting any younger) and Larrys Mabiala are more Ligue 2 quality players than Ligue 1 quality.

And, in addition, Columbian goaltender David Ospina has been far from great. The club could pick up another goaltender, but time should tell if Ospina will fit in Ligue 1 or not. Even still, Lionel Letizi is the club’s backup goaltender. If Ospina can’t hack it for the rest of the season, Letizi should be able to. Yes, he might be aging, but he also can get the job done, as he showed against Monaco earlier this season.

  Paris St-Germain Needs: A new coach and younger players

Here is a team that looks really good on paper. Yes, they might have some aging players in Gregory Coupet and Claude Makelele, but the rest of their team is solid. Earlier this season, this website posted a story about PSG giving Bordeaux a run for their money. Unfortunately for the Paris side, that has been far from the case.

After the injury to Coupet a few months ago, one would assume that the team might need a new goalkeeper. Still, Apoula Edel has done a good job in-goal for the team so far. Hopefully he will be able to continue his impressive play.

Some of the problems this year has been scoring. While they do win some games by large margins, they also lose games by 0-1 margins. So where does one pin the blame? You can’t pin it on Guillaume Hoarau or Mevlüt Erdinç, both who have been battling injuries, yet scoring, this year. You can’t pin it on Ludovic Giuly either, who has done what he can this season.

There is only one person that PSG can pin their ‘average’ season on this year…Antoine Kombouaré. Yes, he did a good job at Valenciennes. And, yes, he is a part of the history of PSG. But he has yet to make this club compete at the next level, where it should be.

Player for player, this club is easily one of the top five in Ligue 1. Yet, they are climbing themselves out from the bottom. PSG needs someone who can get these players clicking, and Kombouaré isn’t doing that. There are some good names out there. The question is if Robin Leproux will make the move. It is highly unlikely.

 Rennes needs: Depth

On the surface, Rennes look like a great team. Nicolas Douchez, Asamoah Gyan, Jimmy Briand, Jérôme Leroy (though getting old), Rod Fanni, Bruno Cheyrou, Sylvain Marveaux and, yes, American Carlos Bocanegra shows that Rennes have a good solid team. But after that, they really need to build up their support.

In the midfield, Rennes are strong. The same can be said for their back line and goaltender as well. And up front, Asamoah Gyan has proven himself this year and might be one of the surprises of Ligue 1 in 2009. But if Jimmy Briand does move to Marseille, Rennes might possibly look for someone to replace the French international up front. They do have some adequate players in Moussa Sow and Ismaël Bangoura to help Gyan, but will they be a good replacement for Briand?

Still, Rennes have had a decent season without Briand, so maybe they need to just stay on course and not rock the boat.

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