Welcome to the first of my new series where I will be making a team of the month from each of Europe’s big five leagues.
First up is France’s Ligue 1. There have only been three games played so far but below is a list of the players who are making an impression.
GK – Steve Mandanda (Marseille) 28 years old The French international has kept two clean sheets in Marseille’s first three league games, helping his team to three straight victories. Mandanda has twice won Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year and if he continues this form he could be in the running to complete the hat trick.
RB – Fabinho (Monaco) 19 years old Fabinho looks like the next great Brazilian right-back and is an excellent prospect at just 19 years old. He is on a season long loan deal from Portugeese club, Rio Ave but it looks unlikely that he will ever play there again after spending last season on loan with Real Madrid where he made one first team appearance. Monaco would be wise to get him signed up on a permanent deal as there will be other clubs keeping an eye on his progress.
LB – Aissa Mandi (Reims) 21 years old Mandi is naturally a right-back but he played at left-back in Reims victories over Lille and Lyon which more than qualifies him to fill this role. Mandi is very strong in the tackle and was my man of the match in Reims shock victory over Lyon. He is eligible to play international football for France and Algeria and if he keeps this form up it won’t be long until he is getting the opportunity to play at the highest level.
CB – Kurt Zouma (Saint Etienne) 18 years old This boy looks like a superstar already. Didier Deschamps has said he sees him as a future France captain and it’s easy to see why. He made his debut two years ago as a sixteen year old and has gone from stregth to strength. He is very good in the air and played a key role in Saint Etienne’s first two games, guiding his team to two 1-0 wins. I am a big fan and expect to see him at one of Europe’s giants before too long.
CB – Marko Basa (Lille) 30 years old Basa has got off to a good start this season, helping Lille to two clean sheets in their first three games. He also chipped in with a consolation goal against Reims in a 2-1 defeat. Basa has 23 caps for Montenegro and at 6 foot 3 he is a big presence in the centre of defence but he is also capable of getting the ball down and playing out from the back.
CM – Jeremy Toulalan (Monaco) 29 years old Toulalan has made a great start to his Monaco career and is looking very comfortable back in Ligue 1 after a spell in Spain with Malaga. Toulalan is a player I have always liked and he will be a big boost as Monaco hope to push towards the top end of Ligue 1. They have spent a lot of money and in Toulalan they have a top class midfielder who has performed well at the top level.
CM – Grzegorz Krychowiak (Reims) 23 years old Krychowiak has made a good start to the season with Reims and opened his account with a goal in the season opener against Rennes. He is a Polish international and is currently showing good form in his role in front of the back four.
RW – Roy Contout (Sochaux) 28 years old Contout is perhaps more recognised as a striker but he has been playing out wide this season. His record of two goals in three games would suggest he is enjoying the role and Sochaux will be relying on him if they want to have a good season.
LW – Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon) 27 years old Gourcuff has had a fantastic start to the season with two goals and two assists in Lyon’s first three games. Gourcuff has enjoyed a good career to date but for a player with his ability it could and should have been much better. At 27 he should be entering the peak of his career now and if he can stay fit he will be a big asset for Lyon.
AM – Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille) 28 years old The diminutive midfielder has started the season well and is a big reason why Marseille are sitting top of the league at the moment. He has one assist so far but hid general play has been top drawer and as long as he is in there creating chances, Marseille will challenge the big spenders at the top of the table.
CF – Andre-Pierre Gignac (Marseille) 27 years old There were a few candidates for this position but Gignac has scored the all important opening goal in all three of Marseille’s games as they have made a perfect start yo their Ligue 1 campaign. Gignac has plenty of challengers for top scorer but he has made a fantastic start and Marseille will need him to maintain this form if they are to have a successful season.