But there is a deep seated concern in France about what lies ahead. There are two super rich clubs. Paris St Germain are set to sign Edinson Cavani for a humungous fee, their response to Monaco’s signing of Falcao. These were the two most coveted forwards on the transfer market this summer, both of whom will end up playing in Ligue 1, widely considered the fifth of Europe’s top five major leagues.
The problem is that in France there appears to be a real possibility of a major polarisation this season. The league only has two spots that guarantee Champions League qualification. Will Paris St Germain and Monaco take both in the years ahead? This poses a threat to the health of French football. Neither side has any challengers in the transfer market, either at home or in Europe, it would seem. Europe’s biggest have been beaten off in the race for the likes of Cavani and Falcao. Meanwhile, Marseille, who did so well to finish second last year, have an enormous battle just to stand still.
Lyon, who came third last season, have a young team and are consistently forced to sell their best players to balance the books. The sale of Anthony Martial from Lyon to Monaco this summer was a case in point. The hugely talented youngster was sold to balance the books, with Lyon desperately needing the cash. Yet pinch yourself again – Lyon are a Champions League team, whilst Monaco are newly promoted. It seems surreal.
St Etienne were one of the most impressive teams last year, Cristophe Galtier leading his talented young side to victory in the Coupe de la Ligue, guaranteeing them European qualification in the process. How can they make progress though, when they have sold star forward Pierre Emerick Aubameyang?
France’s top teams are consistently forced to sell their top talents, usually for fees well below their fair market value, as England’s Newcastle United have smartly cottoned onto. Loic Remy moved from Marseille, challenging for the title and finishing second last year, to Queens Park Rangers, a Premier League team with whom he was relegated.
Others have also left for pastures which seem beneath them. Moussa Sow went to Fenerbahce in Turkey, Yann M’Vila left Rennes for Rubin Kazan and others are taking similarly lucrative paths out of Ligue 1. French football is not helped by the millionaires tax brought in by president Francois Hollande, which threatens them more than most – millionaires are the norm in football and if they are heavily taxed in one country they can easily move elsewhere.
Of course that is behind the dispute between the French league and Monaco, who enjoy tax free status. This state of affairs will exacerbate their differences and shine a light on the gaping cazzum emerging between the top two in France, and everyone else.