From Nebil Fekir to Bernardo Silva: Five Ligue 1 youngsters to watch

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Hottest prospects in Ligue 1 this season.

France is one of the leading exporters of young talent, so ahead of the start of the new Ligue 1 season we take a look at some of those who will be on the shopping lists of leading clubs around Europe:

Nabil Fekir (Lyon)

Fekir won the young player of the year award for last season after a remarkable breakthrough campaign that saw him score or create 22 goals in total.

Capable of playing as a second striker or at the tip of a midfield diamond, Fekir made his France debut against Brazil in March. And Lyon's biggest coup of the summer has been tying the 22-year-old to a new contract which runs until 2020.

However, they will do well to hold on to Fekir for too much longer if he continues to shine.

Bernardo Silva (Monaco)

Along with Anthony Martial, Silva, 20, was the driving force in Monaco's strong finish to last season that saw them claim third place.

Ligue 1: Five transfers to watch this season
– #360debate: Will Arsenal sustain a title challenge this season?
– AGL: Super Cup forced to change venue due to demand

Monaco paid Benfica 15.75 million euros in January to make the diminutive Portuguese playmaker or winger's loan move permanent.

And his value has risen substantially since then thanks to his six goals and two assists in the last seven games of last season and his displays in helping Portugal reach the final of the European under-21 Championship.

Sofiane Boufal (Lille)

Boufal, 21, has the talent to become the next Eden Hazard in Lille, where he impressed in the second half of last season after signing from second-tier Angers in January on a four-and-a-half-year contract.

The gifted Paris-born starlet of Moroccan origin can mesmerise opponents with his skill and in Herve Renard he has a coach who knows how to get the best out of exciting young players.

Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient)

Lorient have made big profits selling the likes of Kevin Gameiro, Laurent Koscielny and Jordan Ayew in the recent past and Guerreiro may be the next one to move on.

The pint-sized Portuguese international, 21, can play as a left-back or a left-winger, from where he excelled last season scoring seven league goals in a struggling side.

He has already been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, but the capital club will surely face stiff competition for his signature when Guerreiro does decide to move on.

Morgan Sanson (Montpellier)

Sanson is currently recovering from a serious knee injury suffered in the spring but is hoping to return by late September, and the sooner the better for Montpellier.

The graceful midfielder, who will turn 21 later this month, signed a contract extension through to 2018 earlier this year. However, that and the fact he is recovering from injury have not stopped Marseille from being linked with a move this summer.

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Five Ligue 1 transfers to watch out for

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Top five transfers to watch in Ligue 1 this season.

Ahead of the start of the 2015/16 Ligue 1 season we take a look at five of the most notable transfers made during the summer break:

Abou Diaby (Arsenal to Marseille – free transfer)

Plagued by injury throughout his nine years in English football, the 29-year-old Diaby opted to snub the chance to remain in the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion and instead try to relaunch his career at Marseille.

Diaby, who has won 16 caps for France, suffered a horrific ankle break playing against Sunderland shortly after joining Arsenal from Auxerre in January 2006 and has been bedevilled by injury ever since.

Out of contract in north London, Diaby was allowed to move on and has signed a two-year deal at the Stade Velodrome, where he is one of eight new faces so far in Marcelo Bielsa's squad.

Benjamin Stambouli (Tottenham Hotspur to Paris Saint-Germain)

– #360debate: Will Arsenal sustain a title challenge this season?
– AGL: Super Cup forced to change venue due to demand
– Arsenal: Wenger backs Ozil to shine in Premier League 

A growling midfielder who can also operate in defence, Stambouli returns to his native France after failing to become a first-team regular in his one season with Tottenham Hotspur.

The 24-year-old was a key component in the Montpellier side that stunned PSG to win the title in 2012 and could have an important role to play for the capital side who have seen Yohan Cabaye move to Crystal Palace and could lose Thiago Motta, who is eager to leave.

Stambouli turned down the chance to stay in the Premier League with Watford as he signed a five-year deal at the Parc des Princes, with PSG paying a reported fee of nine million euros.

"I wasn't necessarily planning to leave the Premier League after one year but when a big club like Paris Saint-Germain calls you, it makes your choice a lot easier," he said.

Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt to Paris Saint-Germain)

Italian international Salvatore Sirigu has been the undisputed number one at PSG for the last four years but he appears to have been usurped by Trapp after a fee of 9.5 million euros brought the Eintracht Frankfurt captain to France.

The 25-year-old German, who started his career at Kaiserslautern and is now on the fringes of Joachim Loew's national team, has signed a five-year deal at the Parc des Princes.

He made his competitive debut in last Saturday's Champions Trophy match against Lyon in Montreal, Canada.

Claudio Beauvue (Guingamp to Lyon)

Last season's runners-up are preparing for a return to the Champions League group stage for the first time in four years and moved to strengthen their attack during the summer.

They have, so far at least, kept hold of Alexandre Lacazette, scorer of 27 goals in Ligue 1 last season, and outstanding young talent Nabil Fekir.

And they have also brought in the 27-year-old Guadeloupe native Beauvue from Guingamp on a four-year deal for an initial fee of 4.5 million euros that could rise to 7.5 million euros with bonuses.

A late developer, Beauvue came good last season, scoring 27 goals in all competitions including 17 in Ligue 1, a figure that equalled the record for a Guingamp player set by a certain Didier Drogba in 2003.

Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan to Monaco – loan)

The 22-year-old Italian international forward of Egyptian origin will look to kickstart his career at Monaco after injuries marred his last two seasons at AC Milan.

El Shaarawy moved to the principality on an initial one-year loan but Monaco have the option to make the deal into a permanent transfer next summer.

The move is a gamble for the player and for last season's Champions League quarter-finalists.

However, El Shaaraway will hope to shine in a sector where Monaco have strengthened significantly over the close season, notably with the signings of Ivan Cavaleiro from Benfica and Guido Carrillo from Estudiantes.

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Juventus can’t afford to keep hold of Paul Pogba – Giuseppe Marotta

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Prized asset: Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba.

Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta admits the club cannot offer Paul Pogba a ‘crazy salary’ but reiterated their desire to keep hold of the highly-rated France international.

Pogba has helped Juventus win three successive Serie A titles since joining from Manchester United in 2012 and this summer was close to agreeing a move to Barcelona.

Juve turned down a reported €80 million (Dh322m) bid from the European champions last month and Marotta concedes that the Turin club cannot offer the 22-year-old midfielder the sort of salary some of their European rivals can.

Barca are understood to have reached a verbal agreement to sign the French international next summer and Marotta concedes the 22-year-old’s head may be turned. 

“Pogba’s future? In modern football the decision of the player is paramount, like with (Carlos) Tevez,” Marotta told Quotidiano Sportivo.

“It’s obvious that we would like to keep him until he stops playing, but we can’t afford to do anything crazy in terms of salaries and some clubs can guarantee twice what we can.”

Marotta went on to confirm that Juventus are seeking to bolster their midfield numbers but are not planning to lodge bids for Chelsea’s Oscar or Real Madrid’s Isco.

– #360debate: Will Arsenal sustain a title challenge this season?
– AGL: Super Cup forced to change venue due to demand
– Arsenal: Wenger backs Ozil to shine in Premier League 

“Isco and Oscar are both stellar players, but in the case of Juventus – unfortunately, for now – we will never be able to sign them,” 
Marotta added.

Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri will need to bring in midfield reinforcements during the summer transfer window after Arturo Vidal joined Bayern Munich and Sami Khedira was ruled out for two months with a thigh injury. 

The Germany international, a summer recruit from Madrid, was carried off on a stretcher during Juve’s 2-0 friendly defeat against Marseille at the weekend.

“Sami Khedira will be sidelined for approximately two months after medical examinations revealed a second-grade myotendinous tear of the rectus femoris muscle in his right thigh,” a statement on Juve’s website read.

“The German midfielder sustained the injury during last Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Olympique Marseille at the Stade Velodrome.”

Khedira was making just his second Juventus appearance in Saturday’s match but will now miss the Bianconeri’s Italian Super Cup showdown against Lazio in Shanghai on Saturday.

The 28-year-old former Stuttgart player is also expected to be unavailable for his new club’s first eight league fixtures, which include mouthwatering encounters against Roma and Napoli.

Khedira missed last summer’s World Cup final after sustaining a calf injury in the warm-up and spent a large chunk of the 2014-15 season on the Bernabeu treatment table before joining Juve on a free transfer.

Juventus kick off their Serie A title defence at home against Udinese on August 23.

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