LOSC: The Next Generation
LOSC sporting director Luis Campos is renowned for his knack for savvy signings - like Nicolas Pépé - and it seems that, following a summer exodus, he has managed to find a fresh batch of future stars.
Brilliant last season - thanks in no small part to top scorer Nicolas Pépé - LOSC finished second and qualified for the Champions League. But financial problems meant the northerners had to sell, with Pépé and centre-forward Rafael Leao among the 15 players to leave over the summer.
However, new men have of course come in and, judging by Sunday's opener against Nantes, Lille look to have unearthed a whole host of exciting new talents. Lille's sporting director Luis Campos is renowned for having one of the best scouting networks in world football, and 20-year-old Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen - who joined from Charleroi for €12m - looks to be another terrific find.
"He's going to be good for us. He's powerful and quick, a bit like Leao was last season," LOSC forward Jonathan Bamba, one of the club's best performers last season, told the Ligue 1 Show before coach Christophe Galtier chimed in. "Luis Campos identified this player a long time ago and spoke to me about him last winter. He was our priority. He likes getting in behind defences, but he also has a real presence in the box."
Osimhen wasn't the only new face on display. Christophe Galtier picked five new signings in his starting XI, including former Rennes captain Benjamin André, who slotted seamlessly in to the midfield. Teenage pair Domagoj Bradaric and Tiago Djalo also fared well in defence, particularly given their lack of experience.
"I did hesitate in starting the young Tiago Djalo in what was his first game as a professional," declared Galtier. "But overall, given their attitude and the way they respected the plans that I had put in place, I was satisfied with them."
Record on the line
The moment many of the fans had been waiting for arrived in the 68th minute, when Lille's record signing Yusuf Yazici replaced fellow new boy Timothy Weah. The Turkish international playmaker, who signed from Trabzonspor for €16.5m, immediately gave the hosts more fluidity, and helped them go on to clinch a deserved 2-1 triumph.
"I wanted us to control the midfield better," explained Galtier. "When he came on, we saw his left foot, his technique and his passing straight away."
With Luis Campos bringing in top talent for Galtier to nurture, Lille's players and fans are staying cautiously optimistic for the coming months.
"Some fine players have come in, and the coach is very good at getting everyone to gel," said Bamba. "We're ambitious. We're going try to do well and why not do just as well as last season? That's what we're striving for in any case."