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3 midfielders in Ligue 1 who could be on the move this summer

2NRN5GM Matteo Guendouzi (R) of Marseille and teammates Pau Lopez (Middle) and Sead Kolasinac (Left) greet their fans after defeat at the end of the french Li

There is not long to wait until the international transfer window opens on Jul. 1 and for any club in need of a midfielder to recruit to their squad in preparation for the 2023/24, Ligue 1 has shown itself to be a league which attracts big transfer fees.

Amadou Onana and Lucas Paquetá were two players who secured moves to the Premier League in deals which reached Lille and Lyon in excess of £30m (€35m, $37m), while Aurélien Tchouaméni was the subject of the third-highest transfer last summer for the £72m fee (€83m, $90m) Real Madrid agreed with Monaco.

As the current season draws to a close, the cycle is gathering pace with more names being speculated with a move elsewhere. Below are three Ligue 1 players heavily linked with moves away from their clubs amid interest from potential parties.

Mattéo Guendouzi, Olympique Marseille

PFF passing grade: 82.6 (position rank: 3/140)

Mattéo Guendouzi has been key for Marseille in his first season at the Stade Velodrome as it looked as though rivals PSG may falter in their bid to retain their Ligue 1 title.

A frayed relationship with Mikel Arteta led to Guendouzi turning a loan at the French club permanent last summer, and at Marseille he has, for the most part, been a mainstay in midfield with Jordan Veretout and Valentin Rongier for company.

He ranks as a top-three player at the position within PFF’s passing model with a grade of 82.6, trailing behind PSG’s Marco Verratti (90.5) and Lille’s Rémy Cabella (83.3).

Guendouzi’s grade is fifth overall in Ligue 1 and ahead of teammates Veretout (69.5) and Rongier (76.0). But the latter duo have been the preferred starters in recent games under head coach Igor Tudor, as Guendouzi has been on the bench for four of Marseille’s last five league matches.

This came after they had surrendered second place in the standings to Lens and with Guendouzi understood to be a player West Ham will target should Declan Rice be sold this summer.

Good in possession of the ball, Guendouzi’s 79.2 ball-carrying grade ranks 12th among midfielders, he has been lacklustre in the physical side of the game.

A 61.1 challenge grade is worse than the 64.8 grade he earned last season when on loan to Marseille from Arsenal, and behind both Veretout (71.6) and Rongier (79.5).

Nice midfielder Khephren Thuram
2PKMX76 Nice, France. 08th Apr, 2023. khephrem thuram (nice) during OGC Nice vs Paris Saint Germain (PSG), French football Ligue 1 match in Nice, France, April 08 2023 Credit: Independent Photo Agency/Alamy Live News

Khéphren Thuram, OGC Nice

PFF ball carrying grade: 90.2 (position rank: 1/139)

Khéphren and his brother, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram, have no shortage of admirers heading into the transfer window. The Nice midfielder has garnered interest from Newcastle United and has also been linked to a reunion with PSG coach Christophe Galthier.

Thuram’s ball-carrying ability is sure to make him a highly-coveted player over the next few months, with room to develop further given he is aged 22. An elite grade of 90.2 in the facet tops all Ligue 1 players, only Jude Bellingham (90.4) holds a better ball carrying grade regardless of position across Ligue 1, the Premier League and Bundesliga.

We can segment Thuram’s grade into the components which form an overall ball carry; carrying, dribbling, and tackle resistance. The first two see Thuram fare extremely well with grades of 89.9 (28 events) and 88.9 (74 events).

So, what about his distribution ability? Thuram has graded similarly to midfield partner Pablo Rosario (73.8) as a passer, 73.7, and ranks 13th out of 140 qualifiers.

His volume of line-breaking pass attempts per-90 falls below the average of 54 midfielders (6.7) to have played a minimum of 1,500 minutes, 6.2. On these passes, Thuram’s completion rate of 69% also falls below the average of 76%.

Lorient midfielder Enzo Le Fee
2PX50D0 Paris, France. 30th Apr, 2023. Carlos Soler of PSG, Enzo Le Fee of Lorient during the French championship Ligue 1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Lorient on April 30, 2023 at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France – Photo Jean Catuffe/DPPI Credit: DPPI Media/Alamy Live News

Enzo Le Fée, Lorient

PFF crossing grade: 76.7 (position rank: 17/142)

Unlike the two players listed above, the future of Le Fée looks like it will almost certainly lie elsewhere come next season after he publicly announced in March his intention to leave Lorient.

A set-piece specialist who can play as a midfielder or in a more advanced role, Le Fée’s current contract expires in 2024 and had been linked with a move to Leicester City upon news of his desire to depart.

Of the top six players in Ligue 1 to have the most crosses from set piece events, Le Fée holds the second-best completion rate at 22%. The former France youth team international has completed 27 of his 105 crosses from set pieces and trails Toulouse’s Branco van den Boomen’s 24%.

In judging the quality of his crossing overall, Le Fée’s crossing grade of 76.7 ranks 17th out of 142 qualifiers. Of the six players with the highest set piece crossing volume, this grade is the lowest.

Rennes midfielder Benjamin Bourigeaud heads the list as the league’s biggest threat with a grade of 92.4, followed by van den Boomen (88.2), Lens’ Przemyslaw Frankowski (83.4), Monaco’s Caio Henrique (81.9) and Montpellier’s Teji Savanier (77.8).

Whilst the lowest grade amongst this group, Le Fée’s grade shows consistent quality just like he does in other facets. A pass grade of 72.0 and ball carrying grade of 74.7 both earn rankings inside the top 16.

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