An exciting Ligue 1 season came to an end with a bit of an anti-climax. After Lyon & Marseille both held their own as potential challengers to Paris Saint-Germain’s domination in France, the capital club showed their experience and retained their title, now making it three successive championship wins having gone 18 years without one.
For manager Laurent Blanc, it was a fantastic response to all his critics, with an impressive showing in Europe as well and also the possibility of winning a domestic treble, something never done in France earlier. But he isn’t the only one to have impressed both domestically and in Europe, with a few others deserving as much credit as French domestic football begins to set itself up on the footballing map.
And as has been a bit of customary sight in France, the youth coming through from each of the clubs stand out above the rest among their European counter-parts. It has been another season where French clubs have had huge dependence on the youngsters in the side, right from those battling for the title, and those fighting relegation. With so much talent in the league, it’s no surprise that many of our Talent Radar stars dominate the positional awards.
And so, below we have the winners for each category of awards you, our knowledgeable reader base, voted on:
Goalkeeper of the Year
Starting off with the best keeper of the season, the award has gone to Anthony Lopes of Lyon. The French giants put on a great show this campaign and did very well to run PSG very close. Lopes was an important cog of the wheel, providing the foundation on which a solid side was built. Over the course of the season, Lopes acquired a reputation for making good saves, and tough reflex stops. As you can see, he’s done so with a fairly comfortable majority over Sirigu and Subasic, though a fairly large percentage of the readership does feel that Sirigu also made a strong claim. The Portugese did a good job, but one cant say that he was head and shoulders above the competition, and will have a tough time defending this title next season!
Defender of the Year
France is full of talented young defenders, and this was a tough award to win. Each of the contenders had a strong claim to the title, but ultimately, Thiago Silva has been elected winner. One cant say that it is undeserved, with Silva being solid at the back, aside from being he driving force for the rest of his team. Paolo Maldini recently said he believes Silva is the best defender in the world, and the faith isn’t misplaced. Silva will now be looking to propel his team a little further in the Champions League, after an impressive display against Chelsea this season.
Midfielder of the Year
As the numbers reveal, this was a hard fought one. The two young midfielders, Verratti and Fekir were really close, with both putting in amazing performances throughout the year. Fekir was the main man for Lyon behind Lacazette, with a lot of creative play coming from him, while Verratti is at the heart of this PSG side. Impressive performances from the Italian in the league and Europe aren’t enough though, as Fekir has been one of the most exciting players to watch this season. 13 goals, and 9 assists in 34 appearances make him the toast of Ligue 1’s midfielders. Behind the two however, a fair number also feel that Pastore is coming of age. Some reliable creativity and consistency, which has long been missing from the Argentine’s game, seems to have found him at last.
Forward of the Year
With 27 goals this season, Alexandre Lacazette has clearly left all competition in this department far behind. The primary reason for Lyon’s excellent attempt at winning the Ligue 1 this season, Lacazette formed a deadly partnership with midfielder (and our Midfielder of the Year) Nabir Fekir to power Lyon through most of the season. Sadly, this season wasn’t meant to be for Lyon which brings us to second played Zlatan Ibrahimovic who, despite missing a significant fraction of the season due to injury and suspensions, ended the season as PSG’s top scorer. 4th placed Marseille’s top scorer, Andre Gignac amassed 21 goals this season with only Lacazette scoring more than him in the league; the Frenchman stands third in our votings.
Manager of the Year
Again, the award has ended up with Lyon, with the excellent Hubert Fournier taking home the gong. It’s certainly been a convincing majority for him, 40% of the votes going his way. With a debut season like that, not many will begrudge him this award. The former Lyon player has found the wherewithal to inspire his side to a great title challenge, and repeating the trick next season will be important for him. Interestingly, Marcelo Bielsa has finished in 2nd place here, despite the fact that his side ultimately ended in 4th place. This reflects the respect readers have for El Loco, and his tactical genius, coupled with his ability to bring the best out of his players. Jardim rounds up the top 3, with his Champions League run possibly swinging a few votes in his favour. Funnily enough, the league winning manager, Laurent Blanc is nowhere to be seen in the top 3.
Talent Radar Young Player of the Year
A large fraction of Lyon’s magic on the field was due to Nabil Fekir. The youngster managed to score 13 goals and 9 assists in Lyon’s push for the title. Fekir has certainly managed to the catch the eye of many across Europe. Given age on his side and the perfect league for him to develop over the next few years, we certainly hope that his next season is just as good if not better than the past one. Second in place in our Youngster of the Year is Marco Verratti. Currently spending his last year under the eligibility for Talent Radar, Verratti’s class and consistency has been of primal importance to PSG’s campaign this season. Giannelli Imbula places third in the voting, although 7% doesn’t do justice to the performances he put in Marseille colours this season.
Player of the Year
Completing the Lyon domination of these awards, it is once again Lacazette who takes this prize. His domineering displays almost fired Lyon to the title, and have made all of Europe sit up and take notice. 27 goals and 6 assists in 33 apperances. It’s been said before, and it’s worth saying it again, but that’s an incredible haul. His partnership with Nabil Fekir was brutally effective, and that’s reflected in the results, with the midfielder finishing in 2nd position. A close third went to Verratti, who led his side to the Ligue 1 title.