, June 12, 2021

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Ligue 1 Best XI of the 2019-20 Season

  •   6 min reads
Dimitri Payet, Ligue Un Best XI
Marseille's Dimitri Payet play was crucial to his team's second-place Ligue Un finish. Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA.

Ligue 1 became the first of Europe’s five major leagues to make a decision on ending the 2019-20 season early, with finishing places locked in as they were at the end of Week 28.

It’s no surprise the Team of the Season has heavy influence from Paris Saint-Germain after they ended up 12 points clear with one game in hand, but who else made the cut in our best XI?

Formation: 3-2-2-3

GK: Predrag Rajkovic, Reims

The first member of a near-impregnable Reims backline to feature is goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic, who couldn’t have impressed much more in his debut season in France.

Statman Dave pointed to the key fields in which the Serbia international led among his peers, including penalties stopped and overall save percentage:

Rajkovic, 24, pips PSG’s Keylor Navas to the No. 1 jersey despite the Costa Rican having an impressive campaign of his own, with the former conceding a Ligue 1 low of 21 goals.

CB: Boubacar Kamara, Marseille

Boubacar Kamara earns a Team of the Season spot at centre-back despite shifting more frequently into a midfield anchor role towards the end of the campaign.

The 20-year-old’s second full season in Ligue 1 was a rampant success as he helped fire Andre Villas-Boas’ side to second, showing intelligence beyond his years wherever he was deployed.

Kamara’s numbers are somewhat slanted due to his shared playing time in midfield, but all signs point toward him becoming a future French star, via Football Talent Scout:

CB: Yunis Abdelhamid, Reims

Reims could be in line for UEFA Europa League football next season, and the defensive foundation upon which that success was formed came largely thanks to Yunis Abdelhamid.

Amid the swell of young talent breaking through in other parts of the squad, the 32-year-old was a key rock in central defence and came up with a vital 1-0 winner against Montpellier in October.

Abdelhamid isn’t as fashionable a name as the likes of Thiago Silva, Marquinhos—who played most of this season in midfield—or Lille’s Gabriel, but his heroics in this particular team won’t be forgotten soon.

CB: Axel Disasi, Reims

The other essential member in central defence for this resilient Reims side, rumored Arsenal target Axel Disasi could be ready to change his surroundings after emerging as a star of this team.

While Abdelhamid played every match of the league campaign, Disasi missed a single game as Reims set the defensive standard, per journalist Rich Allen:

Disasi, 22, was a little foul-happy at times and not as level-headed as partner Abdelhamid, but his average of 3.6 clearances and 1.2 tackles per game are evidence of his important input.

DM: Eduardo Camavinga, Rennes

Eduardo Camavinga became the youngest player to represent Rennes after making his debut at 16 years and four months old in April 2019, but few could have projected his growth this season.

Born in November 2002, the now-17-year-old is further proof age is but a number after averaging a Ligue 1 high of 4.2 tackles per game; Leicester City’s Ricardo Pereira (4.3) is the only player in Europe’s top five leagues who has averaged more.

A guiding force behind Rennes’ drive into the UEFA Champions League for the first time, and there are valid reasons Real Madrid are reportedly interested, per Goal’s Robin Bairner:

DM: Renato Sanches, Lille

Consider Renato Sanches firmly on the path to redemption after a few years in the wilderness, finding his feet once again in a Lille team that was crying out for a man of his specifications.

Lille’s attacking corps of Victor Osimhen, Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone took the spotlight a lot of the time, but Sanches was an even more valuable box-to-box presence in their run to fourth:

AM: Dimitri Payet, Marseille

Joint-winner of the most WhoScored.com man-of-the-match awards alongside Neymar this season, Dimitri Payet edges into the XI ahead of Marco Verratti following his heroics for Marseille.

Simply put, Les Olympiens would not have made it back into Europe’s premier competition were it not for Payet, who moves into midfield to accommodate an aforementioned Brazilian on the left wing.

The 33-year-old—who averaged four key passes per game, one more than any other Ligue 1 player—scored nine goals and recorded four assists as Marseille finished runners-up to PSG:

AVB’s side would have been 14 points worse off without Payet’s contributions, and his threat level from a dead ball still has few equals.

AM: Angel Di Maria, PSG

Arguably underrated for much of his time at PSG, Angel Di Maria took centre stage as an integral member of Thomas Tuchel’s championship-winning side this season.

Other names are often touted as the main difference-makers in a side that clinched the title with a relative stroll, but versatile Di Maria was the orchestrator or finisher whenever PSG needed:

Scoring eight goals to go along with his 14 assists in the league this campaign, only Thomas Muller, Kevin de Bruyne (both 16) and Jadon Sancho (15) have set up more goals this term in the major leagues.

RW: Kylian Mbappe, PSG

The only player in Ligue 1 with more goal involvements than PSG team-mate Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe has already attained that rare consistency you just know could lead to a Ballon d’Or in the not-too-distant future.

Joint-top scorer in Ligue 1 with 18 goals—along with five assists—in only 17 starts, Mbappe’s combination of pace, precision and panache sees his reputation as one of Europe’s elite continue to grow:

LW: Neymar, PSG

There’s something that feels slightly wrong about including Neymar in the Best XI considering he made only 15 Ligue appearances amid his injury troubles, but his impact in that time is undeniable.

Starting with the injury-time winner against Strasbourg in his first appearance of the season, it seemed like Neymar had the power to influence games almost at will whenever he was available:

The 28-year-old averaged six successful dribbles per game—the nearest rival averaged only 3.5—a league-high 4.7 shots per game and was fouled more than any other player (4.1 times per game).

Hate him or love him, Neymar again showed his power to turn a game in an instant in Ligue 1.

ST: Wissam Ben Yedder, AS Monaco

AS Monaco may struggle to keep hold of Wissam Ben Yedder after he made a fabulous return to his native France less than a year ago, per podcaster Jeremy Smith:

Matching Mbappe for goals scored this season with 18, he was one of, if not the only constantly reliable asset at the Stade Louis II and beats the likes of Osimhen and Moussa Dembele to the striker spot.

Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com.

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