Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Paul Marshall in France: Ligue 1 2012-13 Preview

It is surely a loss to headline writers everywhere that Christoffer Rambo excels at handball. The Norwegian has moved to Dunkerque this summer meaning the obvious puns will be enjoyed only by the locals in northern France. Those of us who prefer our sport played with the feet had to make do with another Scandinavian import into l'Hexagone, though Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not disappointed.
"I don't know much about Ligue 1," Paris Saint-Germain's €21 million talent candidly remarked when presented to the press, before adding: "But I bet they know everything about me." If they didn't, they will now after the wall-to-wall coverage the arrival of a genuine world star provoked - even the former AC Milan forward's myriad tattoos have been given thorough analysis. However, Ibrahimovic's swapping of one fashion capital for another - for what French politicians have been quick to point out is an "indecent" annual salary of €14 million after tax - should not come as too much of a shock. It is merely the next, logical step on the upward trajectory the club's über-ambitious Qatari owners set it on when they took over a year ago. "I see here the club of the future that I didn't see in Italy," said Ibrahimovic. "Honestly, who wouldn't want to be part of this team?"

'Very few' is the answer. Though ridiculously over-priced at €42 million plus another €7 million in bonuses, Thiago Silva should form a formidable central-defensive tandem with Alex, still comfortably good enough for Ligue 1, while Ezequiel Lavezzi, picked up from Napoli for €26 million, will team up with Javier Pastore and 'Ibra' up front to give Carlo Ancelotti sufficient talent to canter to the Ligue 1 title and compete - if not win - the Champions League.

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