Paris-based correspondent Jonathan Johnson scours the French newspapers and taps up his sources to provide an overview of what's going on across the Channel.
By Jonathan Johnson - @Jon_LeGossip. Last Updated: July 14, 2012 7:22am
All the transfer titbits from France as the transfer market kicks into life
With the dust having settled on France's ultimately disappointing Euro 2012 showing in Poland and Ukraine, all eyes are casting glances towards the new domestic season. 2012/2013 is so far shaping up to be an exciting campaign and a number of big moves have already been made.
As ever, Ligue 1 is proving to be an attractive shopping market for a number of Europe's biggest sides and the Premier League looks like it will be well-represented in its pursuit of fresh French talent.
Last season saw an emergence of a number of talented youngsters and this summer's transfer market holds particularly good value. Expect a number of big moves to take place over the next few months involving French and English clubs.
Whilst les Bleus were toiling towards quarter-final defeat by Spain following a promising start to their Euro campaign, a number of high-profile moves were being completed whilst the media were distracted by the goings on in Poland and Ukraine.
Last season's stand-out success story Olivier Giroud of Montpellier has now joined Arsenal, seemingly to replace the outgoing Robin van Persie. Whilst Arsene Wenger was talking up Giroud's abilities on French television, behind the scenes he was ensuring that the Gunners have a ready-made replacement for the Dutchman. Scorer of 21 goals last season, Giroud, 25, had been hot property and was the subject of heavy interest from UEFA Champions League finalists Bayern Munich. However, Wenger got his man and Giroud has his wish of Champions League football next season after a €12million transfer fee was agreed.
The Arsenal man's international team-mate and former Sochaux maestro Marvin Martin also made his long-awaited move away from Stade Auguste-Bonal, but surprisingly opted to stay in France as he was snapped up by Lille for a fee believed to be in the region of €10million.
Les Dogues have moved fast to reinvest the money they received from Chelsea for the signature of their star man Eden Hazard and so far they have recruited wisely. Salomon Kalou and Steeve Elana have also arrived this summer and LOSC look like they could be capable of making a title challenge again this year.
Kalou's final game for Chelsea before Lille switch
Hazard was the big move that happened before the Euros. The Belgian wonderkid announced he had agreed to join Chelsea days after their Champions League triumph in Munich, which came as a surprise in France given many journalists had expected him to join either of the Manchester clubs. In a less-heralded move, Newcastle completed the signing of Reims' Romain Amalfitano on a free transfer. Alan Pardew continues his raid of the French talent pool by securing a midfielder who was instrumental in securing the club's first season in the top-flight since 1979.
Despite the loss of Giroud and Hazard potentially being seen as further proof that Ligue 1 will only ever be a 'selling league', there are already signs this summer that French football is beginning to lure talent from across Europe and hold its own domestically.
The signing of Kalou for Lille from Chelsea is an example of a player making a move from the Premier League, which was previously unheard of, albeit on a free transfer. But further to that Martin's decision to stay in France, Evian's ability to keep Danish starlet Daniel Wass, Montpellier's signing of Nice's talisman Anthony Mounier and Yohan Mollo's preference to stay in Ligue 1 and develop his career with Nancy rather than take a gamble on another foreign club, is evidence that France's top-flight is finally beginning to keep some of the country's most talented players within its borders.
Paris Saint-Germain are one of the main reasons that Ligue 1 is now considered glamorous once again and the noveau-riche outfit have already been flashing their cash around. They are being linked with a number of European football's biggest names and have already landed one of the transfer window's most noticeable coups so far. The capital club swooped to complete a €30million deal for Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi, snatching him from under the noses of a host of Champions League rivals and the Argentine insists that he is relishing the project that was proposed to him by sporting director Leonardo.
"The sporting project was what attracted me to the club. There are beautiful plans afoot here," he told the club's official website.
"I will have the chance to express myself on the field with a club that is on the rise and which has a promising future. A club like Paris Saint-Germain will help me develop my game, and it's a club that will become more and more important as time goes by."
In addition to Lavezzi, PSG have been linked with bids for Van Persie, Chelsea's John Terry and Pescara wonderkid Marco Verratti as the club seek to make a big splash this summer with the added lure of top European football.
A number of France's brightest young talents have been linked with moves across the Channel so expect some activity in the coming weeks. New Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert is reportedly keen on Rennes midfield duo Tongo Doumbia and Yacine Brahimi. The latter could add the sort of invention Villa have been badly lacking in recent years and a loan deal with an option for a permanent deal has been mooted.
Les Rouges et Noirs' Yann M'Vila is one of Ligue 1's most-wanted stars this summer but so far no suitor has stepped forward. Arsenal were reported to hold a strong interest in the tenacious midfielder but it appears that Wenger has been priced out of the market with Rennes' transfer demands. Toulouse's Etienne Capoue could be a more viable option with the talented youngster very similar in ability but likely to cost half the price despite an impressive past season. An international call-up is surely imminent.
Loic Remy was a key transfer target for previous Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, but with Andre Villas-Boas in charge it seems that the London club's interest in the Frenchman has cooled. Remy, who was injured towards the end of last term, has reported back to pre-season training with Marseille and finds himself in early goalscoring form following his screamer in the recent friendly with Sion.
Two other players possibly on the move are Caen's promising young attacker M'Baye Niang, who has reportedly been invited to trial with Arsenal for a fortnight much to his new manager's dismay. Last season was a disaster for les Malherbistes as they were relegated to Ligue 2 and Patrice Garande needs all of his players to be fully focused on returning at the first time of asking. Niang though seemingly has other ideas.
Lille and France full-back Mathieu Debuchy could also be on the move amidst widespread interest from a number of European sides including Valencia and Newcastle United. Debuchy for his part insists that he would favour a move to the EPL but Lille will not part with their home grown talent unless they receive a sizeable bid.
Mathieu Debuchy: Remains high on Newcastle's radar
With two months left in the transfer window a lot can happen. What's for certain is that Ligue 1 will be a busy marketplace right up until its close in August.France's implosion at the European Championship cost Laurent Blanc his job and possibly the potential hot seat at Tottenham as well. The top job in France has not been the only managerial change made so far this summer. A number of other top-flight clubs have made new appointments and there have been some very surprising appointments.
Replacing Blanc is Marseille's Didier Deschamps, whose running battle with l'OM's hierarchy finally came to a head before pre-season training commenced, with the former Chelsea midfielder leaving the club after three successful seasons which garnered six trophies, including a first Ligue 1 crown in 18 years.
Didier Deschamps: Top job in France
Before that though, Claude Puel triggered a mass changing of the managerial guard when he accepted to take the reins at Nice following the departure of Rene Marsiglia as a result of yet another season of mediocrity for the Cote d'Azur club.
Alex Dupont, who left Brest with mere weeks of a tumultuous season left, is already back in work. He replaces OIivier Pantaloni, who worked miracles in keeping tiny Corsican outfit Ajaccio in Ligue 1 with the smallest budget in the league. Week seven will see Dupont return to Brest, who narrowly avoided the drop on the last day of the season. His full-time replacement in Normandy is Nantes' Landry Chauvin. The former Ligue 1 winners are still struggling in the second tier but almost hauled themselves back into the top-flight last year.
Brest have now poached Chauvin whilst les Canaris will be hoping it's second time lucky under the stewardship of Armenian former player Michel Der Zakarian as they look to compete with Claudio Ranieri's Monaco for a place in the top-flight.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all though was Marseille's decision to replace Deschamps with former Toulouse, Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux manager Elie Baup. Seen by some experts as French football's equivalent of Peter Reid, Baup has enjoyed limited success in his managerial career to date and his latest post comes after a three-year break from football.
On the face of it the move is a massive step backwards for the club and has been perceived as a statement of a lack of ambition for les Phoceens, as they bid to put last season's disappointment behind them.