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The league of other talents / France / Ligue 1 / May 24, 2022 /

Kylian Mbappé’s extension to Paris Saint-Germain stole the show on the last day of a wonderful Ligue 1 season. If the Parisian striker was the absolute star, we must not forget the other artists nor the teams who contributed to the show.

There was no perfect timing, but the epilogue of the soap opera devoted to the future of Kylian Mbappé stole the show from a last day of Ligue 1 which promised to be exciting, and which was. By formalizing the extension of his adventure with Paris Saint-Germain almost an hour before the start of the multiplex in a packed Parc des Princes, the world champion has definitely become the attraction of an evening recalling that the foot belongs more and more to the players, or rather to the stars. The Parisian number 7 deserved this status after carrying a collectively disappointing PSG on his shoulders by flying over a championship in which he finished top scorer (28 goals), best passer (17 offerings) and of course best player. Mbappé is not, however, the tree that hides a sad forest, but rather the head of the gondola of a season that will not only have been beautiful thanks to him.

The show bonus

Those who will judge the quality of this 2021-2022 vintage based on the ranking and the point difference between the champion and his Marseille runner-up (15) will have it all wrong. No one has discovered this year that PSG and the others do not live in the same world – just take a look at the wage bills – and that a feat like that of Lille last season does not not necessarily call another in stride. This lack of suspense for the title should not overshadow everything else, and especially not that we have witnessed the best Ligue 1 season in ages in terms of play and pleasure. Proof first of all by the figures with a total of 1067 goals scored, the highest since the 1982-1983 financial year (1090 goals) and the third time since the beginning of the century that the bar of 1000 pawns has been crossed (1033 in 2017-2018; 1049 in 2020-2021). The gossips will say that the defenses and the guards have not always shone, the others will answer that it is rather the fruit of a salutary global philosophical evolution for our championship.

In a time not so long ago, Sunday evening was an almost depressing moment, one to take stock of the purges of the weekend and to curse Ligue 1. This season has certainly had a few small dips, but more than 48 hours after its conclusion, there remains above all this impression of having attended a real spectacle with beautiful play, stunning scenarios and outstanding teams. No one has managed to average two points per game outside of PSG (1.87 for OM, 2e), but it is not the most important. The amateurs of the first hexagonal division took pleasure elsewhere, in the matches, the contents, the approaches. From this season, there will remain a spectacular and record Stade Rennes (101 goals in all competitions); an Olympique de Marseille which has regained color and enthusiasm; an AS Monaco less essential, but almost invincible over the last three months; an OGC Nice whose character offered dantesque turnarounds (Angers, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Reims, etc.); an RC Lens and a formation from Strasbourg in the skin of attractive and coherent outsiders; and even an exciting FC Nantes. Pleasure on all floors, even at the bottom, where Clermont and Troyes have obtained their maintenance in the elite by playing rather than by concrete, a sign of a change in mentalities in France.

artists and challenges

Within this entertaining championship where Lyon and Lille, the two great disappointments of the season, did not find their place, there was also the advent of aesthetes determined to exist in the shadow of Kylian Mbappé. It is impossible to name them all, but the artists Dimitri Payet, Lucas Paquetá and Téji Savanier had their hours of glory, especially in the first part of the season. Seko Fofana has confirmed that he has nothing to envy from the Parisian midfielder, Aurélien Tchouaméni too. Andy Delort took over from Amine Gouiri to take the Aiglons to Europe. Nicolas Pallois silenced the few mockeries, Wissam Ben Yedder and Martin Terrier terrified the opposing goalkeepers. Ligue 1 also discovered the silky Lovro Majer, while reveling in the performance of his friend Benjamin Bourigeaud (the only player with Mbappé to have scored a double-double this season with 11 goals and 13 assists). Randal Kolo Muani, Arnaud Kalimuendo, Hugo Ekitike, Franck Honorat or Adrien Thomasson are all names that make L1 followers salivate.

Now remains the challenge of confirming this improvement next season, the one that should mark the transition from 20 to 18 teams with four runs, which could unfortunately curb the little ones. The photograph of the current landscape, however, encourages optimism, between the new income provided by the CVC capital fund (which will nevertheless widen the inequalities…) and the stability hoped for among the locomotives behind Paris. If the situation of Christophe Galtier is not clear in Nice and that OL and Lille will have to make important changes to return to the front of the stage, OM, Rennes, Monaco, Lens, Strasbourg or Nantes will leave with the same coaches next season. The European developer will also be important. If the French clubs had a pleasing autumn leading to a record UEFA points (18.416 behind England and the Netherlands), the winter-spring period was less pleasing. The ambition must not only be national, but also continental without everything resting on PSG. This weekend, Vincent Labrune, the president of the LFP, spoke of a “change of era” and a desire to “to make Ligue 1 one of the top European championships” . For that, she will need Kylian Mbappé, but also all the others.

The big quiz of the Ligue 1 season

By Clement Gavard



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