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5 brilliant things that happened in Ligue 1 the season before PSG got their billions

Remember when there was actual competition to win the French league?

The day Nasser Al-Khelaifi bought PSG Ligue 1 changed forever.

The influx of Emirati billions spelled the end of competitive league competitions, bar Monaco’s surprising win last year.

The big spending Parisians now have the purchasing to power to bring the crème de la crème of world football to the Parc des Princes and boy, do they know it.

Money friends

AFP or licensors
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Money friends

But being a PSG fan wasn’t always so cheery, before the Qataris took over, the club from the capital hadn’t won the league for 18 years.

Lyon pretty much had Ligue 1 eating out of their hand in the noughties, winning seven titles on the trot, but by 2010-11 – the season before Al-Khelaifi’s investment – French football was in rude health with three different winners in three years.

Essien leading Lyon to one of their seven Ligue 1 titles in the 2000s

Reuters
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Essien leading Lyon to one of their seven Ligue 1 titles in the 2000s

It was about to get a whole lot more exciting in the final season before petro-dollars came along and ruined it for everyone.

Here are five brilliant things you will have forgotten from the season before PSG got their billions.

1 Eden Hazard powered Lille to the title and won player of the year

A star was born

AFP
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A star was born

This was a special year to be a Lille fan.

Not only had Lyon finally relinquished their grip on Ligue 1, but they got to see Hazard, Gervinho and Yohan Cabaye on a weekly basis.

Thanks to the performances of the young Belgian, who was just 20 at the time, Lille won the league by a comfortable eight-point margin.

The budding winger provided nine assists, level with Gervinho, and dominated games like he does today – belying his young age.

Hazard was duly awarded the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award as well as appearing alongside three of his Lille teammates in the Team of the Year.

2 Moussa Sow finished the year as top scorer

You read that correctly – Moussa Sow, 25 goals

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You read that correctly – Moussa Sow, 25 goals

Before Zlatan Ibrahimovic came Moussa Sow.

The 24-year-old Sow had arguably the best season of his career in 2010-11.

The Senegalese international bagged 25 goals in 36 league games.

OK, we’ll give it to you that it wasn’t a vintage year for Ligue 1 strikers but it was still a good return in Sow’s first season at the Lille.

Kevin Gameiro came second on 22 goals, followed by Gregory Pujol, Caen’s Youssef El-Arabi and Lisandro Lopez with 17 strikes.


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3 Lorient had the second highest goal scorer and second best assist provider – but finished 11th

Not sure many Lorient fans would have bought that kit

AP:Associated Press
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Not sure many Lorient fans would have bought that kit

This must’ve be hard to take for the Lorient fans.

Gameiro was on fire that season, notching 22 times in the league and finishing a respectable second in the Golden Boot charts.

But to add insult to injury Morgan Amalfitano, the eagle-eyed among you will know him of West Ham fame, made the second most assists in the whole league with 12 – second to only Marvin Martin’s 19 for Sochaux.

However, the rest of the team must have been pretty awful as Lorient finished in the bottom half of the table.

Talk about carrying your side.

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4 PSG’s team was full of legends

Not remembered for his passing

Getty - Contributor
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Not remembered for his passing

Let’s start with one that may surprise you, Crystal Palace’s Mamadou Sakho was PSG’s youngest ever captain at the age of 21 and was named Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year in 2011.

Then you get to the real legends of the game lounging around in Paris.

Claude Makele was winding down in Ligue 1 after a brilliant career at Chelsea and Real Madrid.

French goalkeeper Gregory Coupet held fort at the back, Stephane Sessegnon managed to go a whole season without scoring a goal and Monaco’s favourite son Ludovic Guily provided all the class and flair in midfield.


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5 Hipsters Sochaux secured a Europa League spot and now play in Ligue 2

Take a peek at the Boudebouz’s chance created numbers at the bottom

AFP
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Take a peek at the Boudebouz’s chance created numbers at the bottom

Who is everybody’s second favourite French yo-yo club? Sochaux of course.

In the season before money became the only currency in France, Sochaux finished fifth and grabbed a lucrative Europa League spot.

Unfortunately the success didn’t last long as they were relegated to Ligue 2 three season later.

However, this team had some real stars in that you may have missed.

Marvin Martin – the original KDB

AFP
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Marvin Martin – the original KDB

Cedric Bakambu led the line for the French outfit, you will now know him as Villarreal’s attacking threat – with a record of 46 goals in 101 games for the Spanish side.

As well as Marvin Martin and Modibo Maiga, Ryad Boudebouz was the creative outlet.

And he has become one of the most underrated players in Europe having signed for Real Betis from Montpellier in the summer.

According Squawka Boudebouz created more chances (117) last season than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.

C’est Magnifique.