The Champions League

GFFN Team of the Year | The Winners

It was never going to be a straightforward Ligue 1 season. From the unforgiving four automatic relegation spots, to several of the league’s big clubs going through transition periods, this campaign has thrown up its fair share of surprises, and that chaos has seen some players thrive more than others.

Our team of the season features some familiar faces, but also some new names that once went under the radar, but are now among the cream of the crop in French football.

As was the case for last season’s awards, your votes over the past few weeks have been weighted 50/50 with the GFFN team’s picks to selected the winners in each category. 

Despite missing out on the title – barring a catastrophic collapse by PSG – Lens provide the most players for the team, with Franck Haise’s men turning in a highly impressive campaign that’s seen them secure Champions League football, having beaten all of their top-of-the-table rivals.

The league’s best defence – just 28 goals conceded in 36 games – make up the bulk of our team’s backline, along with Marseille’s Chancel Mbemba and Clermont’s Neto Borges, both transformative signings for their respective teams. Breakout campaigns from Salis Abdul Samed – an underrated cog of Lens’ success – and Branco Van den Boomen of Toulouse make up an impressive midfield pairing, while Ligue 1’s top assister in Lionel Messi stars in an attacking midfield role.

Despite missing out on half of the campaign due to injury, Neymar’s incredible early-season run of form – 13 goals, 11 assists – earns him a spot in the team, while Kylian Mbappé’s 28 goals have fired Paris Saint-Germain to a record-breaking 11th title. Returning hometown hero Alexandre Lacazette rounds off the team – despite Lyon’s disappointing campaign, the veteran’s goalscoring and leadership have had an immeasurable impact on Les Gones, in the midst of a tumultuous season both on and off the pitch.

Goalkeeper – Brice Samba (Lens)

Whilst Samba’s departure from Nottingham Forest can be interpreted as a risk, it is one that has paid off. Les Sang et Or have the best defence in the league. As of gameweek 36, they have only conceded 28 goals. The next best defence is OGC Nice’s who have conceded six goals more over the course of the campaign. Whilst that achievement doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of Samba, the Frenchman has exuded confidence, allowed those in front of him to flourish and been ready when called upon. Luke Entwistle

2nd – Anthony Lopes (Lyon), 3rd – Pau López (Marseille), 4th – Yehvann Diouf (Reims)

Right-back – Przemysław Frankowski (Lens)

The Pole’s tireless work in occupying the entire right flank for Lens has made Jonathan Clauss’ departure go virtually unnoticed. His output in the attacking third matches that of the French international – five goals, three assists this season, having already scored six last season – and the 28-year-old will undoubtedly be a key part of Lens’ upcoming European campaign next season. RJ

2nd – Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain), 3rd – Jonathan Clauss (Marseille), 4th – Gédéon Kalulu (Lorient)

Centre-backs – Chancel Mbemba (Marseille), Kevin Danso (Lens)

Any one of Lens’ three main defenders could have claimed a spot in the team – Jonathan Gradit and Facundo Medina making up the rest of the league’s finest backline. But the 24-year-old Austrian has been a standout performer not just in his own team, but across the league.

Although fatigue has settled in over the last few weeks, Chancel Mbemba’s spot in the Team of the Season is more than deserved – the Marseille man, who arrived last summer, has been an imposing presence in defence. His technical ease moving up the pitch has also served his team well, and the DR Congo international has chipped in with six goals in all competitions.

3rd – Jean-Clair Todibo (Nice), 4th – Jonathan Gradit (Lens)

Left-back – Neto Borges (Clermont)

I wasn’t imagining this for my first year in the league”, the Clermont left-back told Get French Football News on finding out he’d been named our left-back of the year. The Brazilian, though, has been one of the standout performers in a Clermont side that’s defied all expectations to finish in the top half on a shoestring budget – his all-action play showing in his three goals and three assists, as well as solid defensive work. RJ

2nd – Nuno Mendes (PSG), 3rd – Caio Henrique (Monaco), 4th – Deiver Machado (Lens)

Central midfielders – Salis Abdul Samed (Lens), Branco Van den Boomen (Toulouse)

One of the key players who may have gone under the radar in Lens’ impressive campaign is summer recruit Salis Abdul Samed. The former Clermont man has more than managed to fill the Cheick Doucouré-shaped hole left in Franck Haise’s squad, and embodies the selfless nature of the team’s all-action approach. The Ghana international summed up his progress this season in an interview with GFFN: “Before, I would win the ball back and pass it along – now, when I win the ball back, I can also bring it up the pitch myself, I’m more confident in that regard. I really feel free in the way I play here.” RJ

Van den Boomen is the heartbeat of a resurgent Toulouse side, who even clinched silverware in lifting the Coupe de France after hammering a poor Nantes side in the final. The Dutchman is among the European elite when it comes to goal contributions from a central midfielder. With 19 G/A, he is just short of Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich and Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde. The 27-year-old is set to attract interest from an handful of European clubs as he is a free agent next summer. Bastien Cheval

3rd – Khéphren Thuram (Nice), 4th – Valentin Rongier (Marseille)

Attacking midfielder – Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)

After a somewhat middling first season in France, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was back to his (probably World Cup-inspired) best this year. By some distance the league’s best creator, even if some lethargic performances towards the end of the season will have frustrated some fans. It will have nevertheless been a privilege to see the all-time great turn out in Ligue 1 for two campaigns, his fleet-footed play and eye for goal still providing the match-winning spark at 35. RJ

2nd – Enzo Le Fée (Lorient), Rémy Cabella (Lille), Aleksandr Golovin (Monaco)

Wide forwards – Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain)

Neymar began the season in electric form, scoring seven goals and registering six assists in the first five Ligue 1 games. That form continued all the way up until the World Cup, but in line with PSG’s collective downturn at the beginning of 2023, the goals, and the assists dried up. 

An injury against Lille OSC in February brought his season to a premature end. He ends the campaign with 18 goals and 17 assists in 29 appearances in all competitions. However, this was a season that promised so much more, perhaps without the injury it would have been. Regardless, for half a season, Neymar was phenomenal, the best player in a league that he may soon be departing. Luke Entwistle

Mbappé, meanwhile, has been at his devastating best for long stretches of the campaign – he has only bettered his tally of 28 goals in one other Ligue 1 campaign. Amid rumours about his future and apparent discontent with his team’s transfer business, the France captain knows how to deliver once he steps onto the pitch – and has been the main man in PSG’s title win. RJ

3rd – Loïs Openda (Lens), 4th – Benjamin Bourigeaud (Rennes)

Striker – Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon)

The Lyon youth product, who will turn 32 this Sunday, has taken the league by storm, five years after sealing a €53m move to Arsenal. To put it simply, “Le Général” is close to averaging one goal contribution per game in all competitions this season with Lyon. Lacazette has scored 30 goals and registered six assists in 37 games played. Bastien Cheval

2nd – Folarin Balogun (Reims), 3rd – Alexis Sánchez, 4th – Jonathan David (Lille)

GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin

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