9 Ligue 1 stars who’d make ideal Premier League signings – and the clubs they’d suit best
Alphonse Areola (PSG)
Areola is now a World Cup winner – albeit as France’s third-choice goalkeeper in Russia – but back in Paris he might find that he's also set to take a back-up position at club level. The arrival of Gianluigi Buffon puts Areola’s place in jeopardy and there’s no way that the PSG youth graduate will accept playing second fiddle having fought so hard to claim a first-team spot ahead of German Kevin Trapp.
Areola has plenty of admirers after gaining Champions League experience and proving his adaptability during loan spells at Lens, Bastia and Villarreal earlier in his career. The 25-year-old has time on his side to improve and could make an excellent investment for a Premier League side.
Would suit: Chelsea
Djibril Sidibe (Monaco)
The 25-year-old was one of the stars of the Monaco side that claimed the Ligue 1 title and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2017 – and is widely expected to leave the principality club this summer. Premier League suitors face stiff competition for his signature as Atletico Madrid – who have already snapped up Sidibe’s club and international colleague Thomas Lemar – are thought to be among the front-runners to buy the former Lille man.
Sidibe offers the benefit of being able to play in both full-back positions, although he prefers operating on the right. As a bonus, his asking price might have dropped a little (from €30m towards €20m) as he’s lost his place in the France side to Benjamin Pavard.
Would suit: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United
Benjamin Bourigeaud (Rennes)
Bourigeaud was one of the best players in Ligue 1 operating for a side outside the ‘big four’ of PSG, Monaco, Lyon and Marseille last season. Although he emerged as a central midfielder at former club Lens, the 24-year-old can also play as a right midfielder and his crossing and set-piece ability have been compared to David Beckham’s because of the whip, pace and direction that he gets on the ball.
Last season was Bourigeaud’s first full campaign in the French top flight, but he thrived, notching 10 goals and six assists in 35 starts. Rennes will demand seven or eight times the €2.6 million that they paid to prise him away from Lens 12 months ago – but he could be worth it.
Would suit: Crystal Palace, Everton, Southampton
Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux)
Senegal may have crashed out of the World Cup in the first round but Youssouf Sabaly caught the eye thanks to effective attacking performances from right-back. Ligue 1 followers won’t be surprised by what they saw: ex-PSG trainee Sabaly has impressed at Bordeaux over the past couple of seasons, defending diligently and producing some choice moments of play when he gets into the opposition half of the field
The 25-year-old offers the advantage of being equally comfortable at right-back and left-back, so ought to command attention from mid-table Premier League clubs looking to add quality on both flanks.
Would suit: Bournemouth, Watford
Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier)
Skhiri was a solid presence in the centre of the pitch for Tunisia at the World Cup, building on the quietly consistent performances he’s turned out for Montpellier over the past couple of seasons. A graduate of the 2012 Ligue 1 champions’ youth academy, the 23-year-old can play in a midfield two or at the base of a midfield three and looks ready to move on to the next level.
Intelligent positioning and simple, smart use of the ball are the foundations of his game. Montpellier have already sold one of their most promising players this summer (defender Nordi Mukiele to RB Leipzig for €14m in late May), but a similar-sized offer may tempt the club from Languedoc-Roussillon to wave farewell to Skhiri.
Would suit: Bournemouth, Brighton, Burnley