Special Feature: The Best Young Stars of Ligue 1


Kurt Zouma

Zouma is a central defender who plays for Saint-Étienne. The 18-year-old was born in Lyon and has appeared 27 times for Les Verts since making his debut in 2011. The France under-19 international has been subject to interest from Premier League leaders Manchester United if you believe reports in the media.

Zouma is 6ft 2in and has started in ten league matches so far this season. He was believed to be valued at £8m in the January transfer window and has recently signed a new contract to keep his suitors away. The new deal will keep him under contract at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard until 2017 but the club are expecting to receive offers in the summer and hope that the long-term deal will increase the asking price for the youngster.


Younes Belhanda

Another young footballer with talent, Belhanda was reportedly the subject of interest from Italian giants Inter Milan in the January transfer window and a deal for the Montpellier midfielder was believed to be close. The deal didn’t go through however and Belhanda will be looking to increase Montpellier’s lowly position of 8th in Ligue 1 after they finished as Champions in the last campaign.

The 22-year-old has made 24 appearances in all competitions this season, including six in the Champions League before La Paillade were knocked out of the competition at the group stages. Despite being born in France and representing France at under-20 level, Belhanda is a Moroccan international having chosen in 2010 to represent them.

He was a key figure as Montpellier won the league last season, scoring 12 goals in 28 appearances, and being rewarded with the French Young Player of the Year Award.


Mamadou Sakho

Sakho is well known in France by his outrageous hairstyles but what he should be known for is his unquestionable presence on the pitch. Only 22 years old, Sakho has already clocked up 139 appearances for Paris Saint Germain and eleven French caps since making his debut for the national side in 2010 against England.

He was the winner of the Young Player of the Year Award in the 2010/11 season after making 22 appearances for the side based in the capital.

The 6ft 2in defender is predominantly a centre back, but can also do a job at left back. He has made 17 appearances in the league so far this season as Paris Saint Germain are currently three points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table.

Interest in England has been high for the powerful defender, with Premier League Champions Manchester City reportedly interested in acquiring his services.


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