7 Ligue 1 starlets to keep an eye on this season
4. Morgan Sanson (Montpellier HSC)
Currently working his way back to action after a ruptured knee ligament, Ligue 1 will not get its first glimpse of Montpellier’s Morgan Sanson this season for at least another few weeks. Although a blow for the player when it happened back in April, the 21 year old’s injury was a blessing in disguise for la Paillade as it enabled them to keep him past this summer with a number of rivals in le Championnat already keen on him.
Sanson arrived from Le Mans in 2013 and has since made himself the key man for Rolland Courbis’ men. Primarily a deep-lying central midfielder, the France under-21 international’s great strength is his versatility. Sanson is comfortable playing further forward, or even out wide, but he excels in more defensive roles. Dribbling, tackling and crossing, this player has it all and at 21, he is also extremely mature.
5. Michy Batshuayi (Olympique de Marseille)
After two defeats without even scoring a goal to open their new Ligue 1 campaign, Olympique de Marseille turned on the style to thrash ESTAC Troyes 6-0 on Michel’s debut as manager.
Key to that scintillating display for OM was Michy Batshuayi. The Belgium international, of DR Congo roots, scored twice and helped to create another to get his and his team’s season up and running. Batshuayi has all the qualities necessary to become a world-class striker.
Primarily right-footed, the 21-year-old can use either foot to finish with unerring accuracy from both short and long range. Fast, strong and technically gifted, he is also equally capable of running at defences with the ball and holding it up. Batshuayi is a little selfish on occasions and could work on his aerial ability, but neither will hold him back from realising his full potential. If he continues to find the back of the net as regularly as he did in the second half of last season, he will lead next summer’s Ligue 1 departures.
6. Corentin Tolisso (Olympique Lyonnais)
One of the unsung heroes of Lyon’s title challenge to ultimate winners PSG last season was les Gones’ Corentin Tolisso. An under-21 France international, he is primarily a central midfielder, but is extremely versatile and has played in either full-back position in the past. Tolisso is excellent defensively, passes well and couples with OL captain Maxime Gonalons excellently for Hubert Fournier’s side.
The 21-year-old is tall, fast and strong, but technically impressive and reads the game well. His ability to keep possession is another big strength and he will get the chance to experience the Champions League this season after being one of Ligue 1’s standout performers last campaign. Tolisso will attract plenty of interest from foreign clubs and if he can replicate last term’s displays, a Euro 2016 place is not impossible.
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7. Doria (Olympique de Marseille)
Back in September 2014, Marseille completed the signing of Matheus Doria Macedo from Botafogo just as the transfer window was closing. Almost exactly 12 months later, the Brazil international is still yet to make his competitive debut for OM.
So, why is a player who has not made a single appearance for Marseille on this list? Had it not been for les Phoceens’ former manager Marcelo Bielsa, Doria may well already be an established member of the Marseille starting XI and a firm fan favourite.
However, Bielsa’s constant war with OM president Vincent Labrune saw the 20-year-old central defender suffer as el Loco refused to utilise a player who was bought without his approval.
Doria is highly rated in Brazil and Marseille supporters are hoping to finally get a glimpse of the South American in the club’s colours under new manager Michel. In another 12 months’ time, he could be regarded as one of Ligue 1’s brightest young gems.