With Lyon’s flying left back Ferland Mendy’s move to Los Blancos looking imminent, I will be looking at options they could add to replace the Frenchman.
This season Mendy has proven to be pivotal to OL, playing 44 games over the course of the season scoring 3 and assisting 3 but it was his overall performance that has earned him his pending move to one of the most decorated and biggest teams in world football and that’s why Lyon will need a better than good player to replace him
Despite only joining the Merseyside based club last summer Digne could already be on the move. The Everton left back had an outstanding season which has seen him lauded by some as the second best in the Premier League in his position. Digne’s attacking prowess – his crossing, decisions when passing and concentration would allow him to play to Dembélé’s strengths and make him a great fit for Lyon.
The second choice to succeed Ferland Mendy is young Scottish left back Kieran Tierney. On the radar of many a club, Tierney has been impressing a lot of European teams for seasons with rumours of a big move surfacing every window and with his position opening up at a club like Lyon he would have the opportunity to play alongside former team-mates Jason Denayer and prior-mentioned Moussa Dembélé. Despite being restricted to only 19 league appearances this season due to a hernia injury the Celtic defender would still be an ideal fit to fill Ferland’s boots at the Groupama Stadium due to his great strength and pace which allows him to drive forward whenever he picks up the ball and a great defensive side to his play too.
The cheaper alternative, Rebocho has plenty of Ligue 1 experience under his belt with Guingamp and with Las Costarmoricains being relegated to Ligue 2 the left back will be going for a cut-price. Interesting Premier League clubs such as Watford and Leicester, just like Digne – Pedro Rebocho’s attacking side is a massive strength of his, only Ligue 1 team of the season right back Kenny Lala creating more chances than Rebocho this season (for a defender). Rebocho would be a good addition for Lyon as it would allow them to somewhat mend the left back problem for nearly pennies, letting them spend elsewhere and maybe get a better replacement for captain, Fekir or whoever else jumps ship.
Dijon came into the new season off the back of an extremely energetic summer which seen them sign 7 players, adding a mix of talent in both young gifted players with a lot of potential such as then 25 year-old Naïm Sliti, their eventual hero and 32 year-old Yoann Gourcuff, the player formerly signed by French counterparts Lyon for £22m . In the same window Dijon also seen a lot of players exit the club with 9 players leaving, only Baptiste Reynet warranting a fee.
This decent transfer window seen Dijon make a very assured start to the season – winning their first three games, including a 4-0 battering of OGC Nice but this positive start began to wear off rather fastly with Olivier Dall’Oglio’s side failing to win in Ligue 1 for the next 12 games prior to a 2-1 win against Guingamp. In this period of time Dijon did knock Caen out the Coupe De la Ligue though.
Dijon were then defeated in the next three games that came before the short winter break. This poor spell of form signalling the end of Dall’Oglio’s spell at the Stade Gaston Gérard. David Linarès took control for one game, a 3-1 win against Schiltigheim before Antoine Kombouaré took the job for the rest of the season.
Dijon had quite a lethargic winter window. Signing just the one player, a 23 year-old winger from Elche, Sory Kaba. Albeit it was for €4m. Dijon also lost a lot of their prior-mentioned experience in this window with Yoann Gourcuff and Laurent Ciman leaving the club after playing a combined amount of 17 games this season with Gourcuff not completing over 31 minutes in any games.
Kombouaré’s spell at the club began well with 3 wins in his first 6 games but it went a little downhill from here with Dijon losing their next 6 games and failing to win in the 4 that followed. This run making them near favourites for relegation but The Mustards never gave up and their good form in their last 8 games kept them in with a chance of survival. Winning away to Lyon and at home to Strasbourg in the most dramatic fashion among other good wins Dijon made sure they had the chance to stay in the top flight.
On the final game week of the Ligue 1 campaign, Dijon took on Toulouse, needing a win to stay away from automatic relegation and a 2-1 victory was enough to book Dijon a play-off place and steer them clear of Ligue 2, for atleast 6 days.
In this defining play-off game, Dijon faced Lens, the 5th placed team in Ligue 2. Dijon’s penultimate game of the season began rather shaky with Jeanricner Bellegarde giving Lens the lead in the 49th minute but Dijon managed to claw it back with Chang-Hook Kwon scoring another vital goal allowing Dijon to come away with the away goal advantage even if they only managed a 1-1 draw.
Just last night, Dijon played there biggest game of the season, an absolute must win. The second leg of the play-off final. Dijon had the home advantage with the Stade Gaston Gérard on their side. They started early with star player Naïm Sliti scoring on the 28th minute mark before Lens equalised shortly 10 minutes after. Wesley Said scored the goal which looked to be the one to keep Dijon in the top flight and Naïm Sliti made sure it was with a 91st minute goal pulling the curtains on a hectic and long season for Dijon.
Every year, when a team gets relegated there is always at least one stand out performer and that’s what I’m looking at in this article.
The Cardiff stopper was recently awarded The Bluebirds player of the year award and it’s no surprise as to why. The former Walsall goalkeeper displayed himself as an excellent shot stopper over the course of the season saving the 2nd most shots this season, only behind Lukasz Fabianski. Etheridge also showed his penalty saving talents early on when he saved penalties against Bournemouth and Newcastle in his first two games. That being said, I feel Bournemouth could do a lot worse than signing Etheridge as could Crystal Palace with Guaita and Hennessey both being the wrong side of 30.
Keeping with the Premier League theme is Fulham’s Jean Michael Seri. The Ivorian didn’t live up to standards in his first season in the English top flight but he still showcased what a great player he could be scoring a screamer against Burnley and putting in great performances against Brighton and Watford. This being said it would suit the player if he returned to the league where he made his name – Ligue 1, with Monaco most likely to sign the midfielder.
Our final Premier League player on this list is former Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. Despite a drop of form in the second half of the season Mitrovic managed 11 league goals, the 8th best for a striker in the bottom half of the table, this showing he is far better than Championship football in 2020. With Michy Batshuayi returning to Chelsea and Benteke struggling for goals, I reckon Crystal Palace should make an effort to sign the Serbian.
Son of World Cup winner Lillian Thuram, Marcus has been a bright light in EA Guingamp’s rather dreary season. The winger/striker scored 9 league goals as Guingamp finished bottom of Ligue 1. Due to the fact this relegation will have a cut-price effect on the 21 year-‘ old’s value adding on to his contract expiring next summer Thuram will be perfect for a club such as Tottenham who seek bargains.
This is a strange one as although Dijon (Enzo’s club) are not officially relegated from Ligue 1 there is a massive chance they will be with only a two legged tie against Lens who have won 4 of their last 5 games. Enzo Loiodice is an 18 year-old central midfielder with great technique, vision and ball retention among many other skills. The player who is currently playing in the u-2os World Cup for France has started 10 games for Dijon and appeared in 2 more as a sub. With it seeming near certain atleast two of Ndombele, Aouar and Fekir leaving Lyon this summer Loiodice would be a great addition looking to the future.
The former Middlesbrough striker exceeded expectations by an absolute mile in the La Liga this season scoring 19 goals for Girona, the 5th most in the league. The 32 year old Uruguay international also got his name in the Spanish team of the season despite Girona being relegated to La Liga 2. These stats make him perfect for a team looking for a stopgap cheap back-up striker. The reasoning behind Barcelona’s interest.
The second Guingamp player on this last is Ludovic Blas, the talented 21 year-old was a mainstay in Guingamp’s team this season making 40 appearances for the French side. His fantastic strike put the spotlight back on the midfielder who possesses fantastic dribbling, vision and concentration. Staying in his home country and signing for a better Ligue 1 side would be a smart decision, OGC Nice would be in desperate need for an attacking talent if Allan Saint-Maxim does complete a move to the Premier League.
Despite only signing for Dundee this winter Andrew Nelson showed his potential straight away getting 6 goal contributions in 701 minutes, one every 116 minutes for the worst team in the league, which is highly impressive. Nelson displayed that he is way above Scottish Championship standard this side of Christmas. This form should have earned him a move to at least a top 8 team in Scotland. With Motherwell’s Curtis Main joining Aberdeen and Hibs’ Marc McNulty returning to Reading, Hibs and Motherwell would be Nelson’s most realistic destinations.
Ertugrul Esroy is a 22 year-old Turkish centre back who plays for and captains Bursaspor. As the captain of his boyhood club Esroy won’t be in a rush to leave but that is no indication that he couldn’t cut it in mainland Europe. With Boyata leaving Celtic for Hertha Berlin, Esroy could be a perfect replacement with his passion, positioning and ability to read the game.
The third and final Guingamp player in this list is left back Pedro Rebocho. Rebocho has also shone at the Ligue 1 strugglers. Rebocho has turned into some sort of assist king this season with 8 in the league, only bettered by 5 other left backs in Europe. The former Benfica full-backs price-tag was set at £3.5m but that is likely to reduce with EAG’s relegation. There is Premier League interest though as Watford and Leicester are interested in him.
Playing on loan for Girona in La Liga the, at the time, Man City full back looked a new man which forced Stuttgart to pay a club record £8.8m for him but this backfired horribly with Maffeo playing only 8 games for the club who are sitting 16th. Just like Enzo Lociodice, Maffeo isn’t offcially relegated just yet but his fate is decided tomorrow when Stuttgart face Union Berlin. If Stuttgart go down I would be less than surprised if the Spaniard left the club. His most likely destination back to La Liga.
On the night of this being written, Caens fate has been sealed as they fell 1-0 to Bordeaux which seen them relegated to Ligue 2 for the first time since 2011-12 but it could have been so different.
In the summer of 2018, Caen underwent a massive overhaul which seen 13 players departing including their talented winger, 19 year old, Yann Karamoh who joined Inter Milan for €6.6m, Caens 4th most expensive export. This overhaul also seen Caen bring in 11 new players, splashing out on a new attack.
The campaign started off rather positive for Caen losing only one game out of the first five which was against the unstoppable PSG. This steady form continued all through September until the start of October where they lost to Marseille sparking a 10 game win-less run until they bet Toulouse 2-1 half-way through December, gaining their first win in almost three months.
One positive of Caen’s rather bleak season was their run in the Coupe de France where they reached the Quarter Finals via a 1-0 win over the Ligue 2 punching bag Red Star, an excellent 6-0 win away to 6th tier outfit Viry-Chatillon and a penalties win against Championnat National 3 team SC Bastia before being dumped out by a strong Lyon.
January came around and things didn’t get much better for Caen with news breaking out that star performer Frederic Guilbert would be joining Aston Villa when the season is over and Caen’s only addition would be Aly Ndom on loan from Stade Reims.
January was rounded off with a loss to Montpellier, who this time kick-started an 8 match streak where Caen couldn’t find a win but finally on the last day of March, they picked up a league win, a 1-0 victory away in Monaco. The first one since Toulouse in December. This win fed some hope into the northwestern French club as they picked up 3 remarkable wins in their next 6 games.
This incredible fight kept Caen, a team with only 4 league wins beforehand, in with a chance to stay up. Fighting against Dijon, Amiens and Monaco with 2 games to go. In their final 2 games Caen were the only team unable to pick up a point with Dijon beating Toulouse, Amiens beating 20th placed Guingamp and Monaco picking up a victory against Amiens whilst Fabien Mercadal’s side suffered back to back losses to Lyon and Bordeaux.
This immense showing of belief and fight wasn’t enough for Caens as they were relegated on the final day of the season.
Coming off the back of two consecutive impressive mid-table finishes 2018-19 looked like it could be a promising season for Las Costarmoricains and coach Antoine Kombouare. Despite losing a great talent in former Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Clement Grenier it looked like Guingamp could have potentially strengthened as they splashed £2.25m on Sikou Niakate, their most expensive addition since Gilmar nine years ago but he was swiftly loaned back to Valenciennes. EAG also added Ronny Rodelin, Nolan Roux and talented midfielder Guessoma Fofana to their 2018-19 squad.
Shortly after the restart of the season it was clear that Guingamp’s business was not as smart as it seemed with them sitting glued to the bottom of the league after 6 games picking up 0 points, although it was a tough run of games that seen them face 4 of the eventual top 6. EAG had to wait until the tail end of September to pick up their first point which they done travelling to the Stade des Costieres, Nimes’ stadium in the south of France, in a 0-0 draw.
After this Guingamp continued to push on from this picking up their first win against Angers the following week and then furthermore going unbeaten throughout the month of October picking up 3 consecutive draws in the league and again beating Angers and knocking them out of the Coupe De La Ligue.
positive feeling around the Guingamp camp was quickly smashed away after the
team conceded 9 goals in less than a week after a 5-0 trouncing from Nantes seen
a temporary change of boss when Sylvain Didot took control of the wheel for one
game and suffered a harsh 4-2 defeat to Lyon. His permanent replacement Jocelyn
Gourvennec also couldn’t prevent a loss in his first game when his side fell to
a 2-1 defeat at Reims.
December came around and results where improving, they started off with a draw against Europa League hopefuls OGC Nice and then suffered back to back losses against other relegation battlers Amiens and Dijon. Although these results sound negative this is where it started to kick on, Gourvennec modified his 4-2-3-1 formation slightly so Marcus Thuram was playing in his more natural left winger role. This clearly worked as Guingamp won 4 competitive games on the bounce, the first time they won consecutive games all season. This string of results included a penalty win over Nice to take them into the semi-finals of the Coupe De La Liga, an easy beating of minnows St Pontivyen, a 2-0 league win over Monaco, their first since September. The final win out the four was an incredible 2-1 win over PSG in the Coupe De La Ligue semi finals. Despite this tragic league form EAG had a surprise cup final to look forward to.
In January, Guingamp brought in 5 players. Former Sunderland duo Papy Djilibodji and Didier Ndong were joined by Johan Larsson, Alexandre Mendy and Mehdi Merghem but these additions could only help them to 4 wins in 14 up until the Cup Final. This game swung back and forth and was still goalless after 120 minutes played. It was the 4th game out of 5 in the tournament that Guingamp had went to penalties in and sadly the only one they lost in. After this heartbreak it was ultimately season over for Guingamp as they had just a month and a bit to cut a large point deficit.
EAG’s fate was sealed on the 12th of May when Marcus Thuram saw a 92nd minute penalty saved by Rennes goalkeeper Tomas Koubek closing the curtains on a miserable but nearly so wonderful season for En Avant de Guingamp.
When Scott Sinclair arrived in Glasgow in 2016 he became an instant hit with the Celtic fans scoring the winner in a 2-1 win on the opening day against Hearts. On the exact same day he was announced. Over the course of his first season at Celtic Park Sinclair continued to transform into some what of a hero scoring 21 league goals and laying on another 7 adding on to numerous G+A in the domestic cups.
But now we are approaching the third season since the former Man City winger had his elementary season with the Scottish League Champions and his love from the Celtic fans is fading away as he now plays second fiddle to Johnny Hayes, a 31 year old Irish winger.
Due to a clause in Sinclair’s contract, Scott is now being paid £40k to warm the bench at Parkhead, meaning, albeit it isn’t his fault, he has fell even further down Celtic fans affection list.This contract means that on what looks like his final year at Celtic, he will be being paid the largest wage in the whole of Scottish football. Something that won’t look attractive on Celtic’s wage bill.
Scott Sinclair’s decadence has not been something that’s been difficult to spot after his debut year. Turning from a 20+ goal winger who strikes fear into the hearts of every teams full back and their fans to being a player that brings relief when seeing his name on the Celtic team sheet.
At Celtic, wingers have in recent history, never been a position where they are short of. As under contract right now the club have 7 (seven) first team wingers, excluding Oli Burke who has just returned to West Brom from his hardly impressive loan spell. This is the reason why Celtic should not look for a ‘Sinclair replacement’.
The main player who should be seen as Sinclair’s successor is Michael Johnston, a 20 year old Scottish left midfielder who has scored 5 goals in 7 starts this year, only one less than this seasons Young Player of The Year and Team of The Season left midfielder Ryan Kent – who made 18 more starts. Johnston also averaged goal every 136 minutes over the course of the season.
In January, Celtic recruited another winger, Maryan Shved from Ukrainian side Karpaty Lviv. Although the standard may not translate from Ukraine to Scotland the attacker is quite evidently talented. Scoring 14 in 24 with his side in Ukraine and contributing to 3 assists.
This Sunday, coincidentally in a 2-1 win against Hearts, 16 year old wonder-kid, born in 2003, Karamoko Dembele made his first team debut for Celtic becoming the youngest ever player to have played for Celtic. The talent played a 30 minute cameo and showed signs that he has the talent people are raving about. If implemented correctly Karamoko could be a Sinclair replacement for years to come, free of charge.
Another upside of not buying a replacement winger is that the staggering £40,000 Celtic pay Sinclair may be added to improving areas that are more barren, perhaps a Boyata replacement due to the defender heading to the Bundesliga or finally a new right back.