Ligue 1 2016/17: Five things we learned

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The Ligue 1 season came to an end this weekend with Monaco lifting the title to end four years of Paris Saint-Germain dominance.

Here are five things we learned from the domestic season in France, with the emergence of one player in particular catching the eye.

1. KYLIAN MBAPPE

The French teenager announced himself to the world with a spectacular debut season both domestically and in Europe. A stunning return of 26 goals and 14 assists in all competitions – often playing out wide – has seen him inevitably linked with a move to some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

His electric running and cool finishing has earned comparisons to Thierry Henry and undoubtedly makes him the hottest property in Ligue 1 at the moment.

2. MONACO’S GOLDEN GENERATION

Mbappe is part of a very exciting Monaco side who not only surpassed expectations domestically, but also made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Radamel Falcao was back to his clinical best in front of goal, while the likes of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Fabinho, Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva all earned rave reviews for their spectacular performances.

The challenge now is to keep such a talented squad together for another couple of seasons and see how far they can go, but it remains likely that they will be picked off as bigger teams begin to circle. Monaco played a thrilling brand of football throughout the campaign and became many people’s second team as they netted over 100 times in the league.

3. THE END OF PSG’S DOMINANCE

For the last four years, PSG dominated the French domestic scene with four consecutive league titles. The arrival of Unai Emery was supposed to take them to another level, but a damaging 3-1 loss to Monaco in August set the tone for what proved to be a disappointing season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure left a void in the squad, which Edinson Cavani was unable to fill despite amassing 35 league goals. Emery’s future is under threat after their second-placed finish was matched by a shocking late collapse against Barcelona in the Champions League – but they may well start next season as favourites to win the title back.

4. SUPER MARIO

One of the greatest enigmas of European football, Mario Balotelli moved to Nice at the start of the season looking to prove himself once again after a poor time at Liverpool and AC Milan. However, like Hatem Ben Arfa before him, he looks to have found his feet in the south of France, scoring twice on debut before going on to net 17 times in his debut season.

It has not come without incident though, with Balotelli the victim of racial abuse and the familiar temperamental problems leading to three red cards in the campaign.

5. FAREWELL TO BASTIA

It was a difficult campaign for Bastia, who found themselves relegated to Ligue 2 after finishing bottom of the table, but also in frequent trouble with the authorities. One supporter was hit with a stadium ban at the start of the year following alleged racist abuse aimed at Balotelli, while there were ugly scenes as a game against Lyon was abandoned at half-time as fans stormed the pitch to ‘attack’ several visiting players.

The Stade Armand-Cesari was closed as a result and fans were banned from travelling to away games. Bastia will be happy to see the end of the campaign.

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Ibrahimovic sparks rumours of Europa League final availability

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been uncharacteristically out of the limelight of late after suffering a serious knee injury in last month’s Europa League clash against Anderlecht.

The 35-year-old however has managed to stir up a frenzy on Saturday with an Instagram post that suggests his availability for the competition’s final which Manchester United has progressed to since he was sidelined.

The Red Devils face Ajax on Wednesday in Stockholm and the Swede, who was eager to play in his country, posted a video of himself walking in a swimming pool wearing the United kit.

He captioned the post: “Ready for the final.”

Ibrahimovic, who was said to be ruled out for several months, is no doubt having a bit of fun with social media.

Jose Mourinho has already confirmed that the striker will travel to Stockholm to support the team but that hasn’t Twitter from deriving its own conclusions from the recent post.

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Who are European football's top 10 central defensive midfielders?

Sport360 staff 20/05/2017

According to the CIES Football Observatory, Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara is the best central defensive midfielder in Europe, ahead of players like Manchester United duo Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera.

Only players who have played at least 2,000 minutes this season have been included in the analysis.

Thiago tops the rankings with a rating of 90 out of 100, with Pogba close behind on 89 and RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita on 88.5. Herrera comes in at fourth with a rating of 88.0.

The Premier League have three players in the top 10, and there are two each from the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and Serie A.

Check out the top ten in the gallery above.

Who is your favourite in the list?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

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