They might not have been nominated for the French Player of the Year prize but here are five names who have lit up the Ligue 1 Uber Eats season and, for varying reasons, are likely to be the subject of transfer interest this summer….
GAËTAN LABORDE (MONTPELLIER HÉRAULT SC)
The 27-year-old striker has been enjoying a fantastic season and last weekend his brace in a 3-2 win at RC Strasbourg Alsace saw him become the first Montpellier player to score 15 goals in a Ligue 1 campaign since a certain Olivier Giroud in the club’s remarkable title-winning year in 2011-12. Laborde kept up his great form with a stunning strike and an assist for Andy Delort in the midweek Coupe de France semi-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
Signed in 2018 from Girondins de Bordeaux, Laborde has never enjoyed a season like it and there were already rumours of a transfer in January amid reported interest from West Ham United. Montpellier, though, wanted at least €18 million for their number 10.
"I haven't taken the easiest route but the important thing is to be playing well now," Laborde said in an interview with Eurosport this week. "My education has taught me to never give up on the field. But my career path and the difficult moments I've gone through have taught me to keep my feet on the ground. I have not always been beyond reproach, I have to take my share of responsibility. Sometimes I tell myself to remember where I was before. With all I've been through I am never going to become big-headed."
Laborde’s remarkable performances this season have earned rave reviews. Popular publication So Foot this week made the case for him to be included in France’s expanded 26-man squad for Euro 2020 by coach Didier Deschamps. Crucially, he has just a year left on his contract, so this might be the time for him to move on.
"I will need to see if there are any opportunities for the club or for me,” Laborde told Eurosport. “As I have only experienced playing in France, I could be attracted by a move abroad."
LUDOVIC BLAS (NANTES)
The 23-year-old attacking midfielder from the Paris suburbs had a great footballing education - he was part of the France team alongside Kylian Mbappé that won the Under-19 European Championship in 2016. After starting at EA Guingamp, he joined FC Nantes in 2019 and is now enjoying the best season of his career, despite his club being involved in the thick of a relegation battle.
Blas has scored a career-best nine goals, including two in the last three matches, all of which Nantes have won to boost their chances of escaping the relegation zone. Usually playing through the middle or wide on the right, he has also provided four assists. If Nantes escape relegation, he will have played a major part.
Whether they stay up or not, Blas is likely to attract interest in the transfer window but the fee Nantes can command is likely to depend in large part on whether they remain a Ligue 1 club. Meanwhile Blas is understood to have recently joined CAA Base, the same agency that looks after the interests of stars like Raphaël Varane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min.
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HWANG UI-JO (GIRONDINS DE BORDEAUX)
One of very few rays of sunshine in a dreadful year for Bordeaux, Hwang has scored 11 league goals in a team that has been sucked into the relegation battle in the second half of the season.
Former Gamba Osaka man Hwang understandably needed some time to adapt to the European game following his arrival at the start of last season and he netted just six goals ijn his first campaign in Ligue 1. He started this season in sluggish fashion too before finding his form in mid-December and never looking back - he has netted all of his 11 goals this season in his last 22 appearances.
The South Korean star penned on a four-year deal on his arrival but given Bordeaux’s struggles on and off the field, they may not be able to resist any incoming offers for Hwang this summer.
BOUBACAR KAMARA (OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE)
The 21-year-old holding midfielder is Marseille's prized asset, but he only has a year left on his contract and they need to raise funds as well as reduce their wage bill. Qualification for next season’s UEFA Europa League would help, but their financial situation means OM are likely to be vulnerable if offers come in for the France Under-21 international, who started out in central defence.
Losing a player who has made 40 appearances this season in all competitions would nevertheless be a tremendous blow for Marseille. Kamara, who has a child with his reality TV star partner Coralie Porrovecchio, is not just a talented player but also a local lad and therefore someone in whom supporters at the Orange Vélodrome can identify. Coach Jorge Sampaoli wants to keep him. Nevertheless, Kamara has hinted that it might be time to move on.
"I turned professional four years ago and I have been through just about everything in that time,” he recently told 20 Minutes. “Any decision about my future will be based on the sporting project. Marseille is the only club I've ever been at but after all I've been through here I could go anywhere.”
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TEREM MOFFI (FC LORIENT)
The Nigerian forward, who turns 22 later this month, has been an absolute revelation since joining newly-promoted Lorient from the Belgian club KV Kortrijk at the beginning of the season. Moffi scored on his debut against Stade de Reims but then did not net again until just before the winter break.
That sparked a run of seven goals in eight games and he has gone on to score 14 times in total despite Lorient struggling to avoid an immediate return to the second tier. The question now is whether Lorient will be able to keep hold of a player who also scored a hat-trick in the recent 4-1 thumping of Bordeaux.
Moffi, who has also played in Lithuania having moved to Europe as a teenager, signed a four-year deal in Brittany but already there are reports of interest from leading clubs around the continent. Determined to break into the Nigerian national team, Moffi may not remain at Lorient long, especially if they end up being relegated at the campaign’s end