We will now finish up our season awards for Ligue 1, ending of course with the top 6 teams. If you haven’t read our awards for the lower teams in the league, you can find them here and here.
6th - RC Strasbourg
Der Kaiser: Frédéric Guilbert (RB/RWB)
Honourable mention to Anthony Caci, a player who started the season looking like it would be his breakout year but would eventually fall in form. Guilbert on the other hand, was perfect throughout the year. 4 assists mark a season that was full of consistent performances from end to end.
Fußballgott: Adrien Thomasson (CM)
Thomasson was key to Strasbourg’s play between the lines, finding pockets effortlessly. A tally of 8 goals and 4 assists marked what was a great season for him and a great season for Strasbourg overall.
Der Bomber: Habib Diallo (ST)
Diallo was the more mobile of a two-striker partnership, scoring 11 and assisting once with a couple of those contributions being off the bench.
Meister of the Season: Ludovic Ajorque (ST)
One of the most underrated players in Europe, Ajorque scored 12 and assisted 8, acting as both the finishing and creative fulcrum of the team. In my opinion he is one of the finer strikers in Europe, level with the likes of Michail Antonio and Anthony Modeste.
5th - OGC Nice
Der Kaiser: Walter Benítez (GK)
Benítez is in my opinion of the most underrated keepers in Europe, up there in quality with the likes of Wojciech Szczęsny, Kasper Schmeichel and Yann Sommer.
Fußballgott: Mario Lemina (CM)
Nice’s midfield wasn’t the most glamorous but Lemina set the base for what would be a strong and industrious unit. His forward passing wouldn’t be the best but he would be key to recycling possession and switching play.
Der Bomber: Amine Gouiri (ST/LM)
Gouiri has become one of the most exciting names in football, and for good reason. You don’t score 12 goals and assist 9 times for nothing. His ability to hit teams on the break with his strike partner was particularly exceptional, with the two of them often crafting moves from nothing.
Meister of the Season: Andy Delort (ST)
Here is his strike partner, and one of my favourite footballers on the planet: Andy Delort. 20 goals and 3 assists is usually the mark of a great poacher, but Delort is the complete package. Lightning fast on the break. Even outside of his aforementioned link-up with Gouiri, Delort would drop deep to collect, hold up the ball and distribute play, often this was the time when Gouiri would make a run in behind and be found with a ball over the top.
4th - Stade Rennais
Der Kaiser: Hamari Traoré (RB)
Rennes for sure had their best individual performances concentrated towards the front lines, but Traoré was no slouch. Marauding down the right, he would pick 3 goals and an astonishing 10 assists. The width he provided allowed a certain other player to come narrower and eventually become the key to Rennes’ attack. However, Hamari was not a gung-ho all guns blazing attacking wing back with no more dimensions to explore. Hamari tracked back on a regular basis and very rarely left holes behind himself.
Fußballgott: Benjamin Bourigeaud (RW/RM)
Probably cheating, but I really don’t care in this case. Bourigeaud was otherworldly this season, an elite creator and finisher. 12 goals and 12 assists is the kind of record you see from Bruno Fernandes or Kevin De Bruyne. A record not dissimilar to that of one Thomas Müller. He is the aforementioned ‘certain other player’. With Hamari on the right, Bourigeaud would come narrower and act basically as a slightly wider-sat 10, and this unique role allowed him to flourish into having one of the best seasons that any player in any league has had this season.
Der Bomber: Gaëtan Laborde (CF)
Delort’s former partner-in-crime, Laborde is similarly rapid, smart on the counter, and is also a Mannschaft Planen alumnus. 15 goals and 3 assists were his return playing as a false 9 allowing Bourigeaud and another player to occupy narrower spaces. Overall this Rennes attacking setup is probably my favourite of any setup in the top six leagues of Europe. The front three all consist of players I individually love and the way they interact with each other is beautiful to watch. Laborde in particular is a personal favourite player of mine.
Meister of the Season: Martin Terrier (LW/ST)
The final piece of the forward puzzle is Terrier, who amassed a frankly ridiculous 21 goals to go with his 3 assists. Terrier was a joy to watch on the left, cutting in and shooting on his left. Width would be provided by the left back — usually Adrien Truffert — creating a narrow front three with flanking wing backs (effectively a front five). With Bourigeaud and Hamari creating so much chaos on their flank, Terrier was often free to explore dangerous spaces behind the backs of defenders, and it showed in his return as he would often find himself in behind. Even if he wasn’t in directly dangerous positions, his hold-up play, link-ups, long shots and even his back-tracking were phenomenal, that of a proper world class number 9. Another player who found himself in a Mannschaft Planen article of mine not too long ago.
3rd - AS Monaco
Der Kaiser: Alexander Nübel (GK)
Finally, a Bayern Munich player who hasn’t left us permanently (yet)! Special mention goes to Guillermo Maripán, another player Bayern are involved with that is a very good leader of the backline. Nübel was extremely important to Monaco, keeping a defense that was inconsistent as a unit in check with brilliant saves, especially in big games.
Fußballgott: Sofiane Diop (LM)
Most often employed as the wide left in a 4-4-2 midfield block, Diop was fantastic down his flank in 1v1s, often dribbling past his opponent or using other players to lay-off. Despite what his status as an elite dribbler would elude to, Diop keeps things simple with nice touches and good technique rather than flashy skills to beat his men, along with a penchant for drawing in fouls with his close control and quick shifting of balance. Diop was also ace at tracking back, often him and left-back Caio Henrique would employ a hard press that would leave attackers with no choice other than clearing the ball back to his keeper or attempting to dribble past both.
Der Bomber: Wissam Ben Yedder (ST)
Ben Yedder has been an elite striker for a bit, and this season has been no different. 25 goals and 5 assists is a return that has become customary to him, but is not anything to scoff at. His finishing, link-up play, set piece play and aerial ability have all stayed top notch, as have his ground through balls which continue to be incisive as ever.
Meister of the Season: Aurélien Tchouaméni (CDM/CM)
Tchouaméni is perhaps the most exciting 6 in world football. 6 goals and 2 assists running in from deep are just the tip of the iceberg. His ability to win physical duels both with his stature and with his tackling technique is world class. His ability to read the game with well-timed interceptions and blocks is elite. His ability to draw fouls by blocking and shielding the ball to force a challenge from behind is top drawer. Try describing this kid in detail and you will run out of superlatives in no time.
2nd - Olympique Marseille
Der Kaiser: William Saliba (CB)
Saliba continued his development into a possibly world class centre back with a fantastic season at Marseille. He wasn’t the most averse to long ball play, but like a lot of modern centre backs preferred to build patiently with passes forward into midfield.
Fußballgott: Boubacar Kamara (CDM/CM)
Another Kamara, another industrious midfielder who can play in midfield and in defense. Boubacar anchored play in the defensive half beautifully, controlling build up and screening the backline but also supporting forward play in the opposition half by offering himself as an option to begin recycling possession. He also performed well when deputising at centre back, showing his versatility.
Der Bomber: Cengiz Ünder (RW/RM)
Special mention goes to Gerson who played in midfield but his actual role was as an effective 10, pushing ahead of his midfield partners into the space between the lines just behind the forwards before making late runs off the back of the striker, and gathered 9 goals along with 4 assists. Ünder on the other hand, occupied the right wing and wreaked havoc down his flank, scoring 13 and assisting 3 from the wing. Using his pace and ability to quickly change direction, Ünder would cut in from the right and shoot on his left peg. His real strength in beating men however came from his link-up play, often playing one-twos with the striker and midfielders to get into more dangerous spaces.
Meister of the Season: Dimitri Payet (ST/CAM)
Payet played up front this season and for the first couple of seasons genuinely looked like he could lead Marseille to denying Paris Saint-Germain a Ligue 1 title for the second season in a row. Unfortunately it would not happen, but Payet would remain top notch nonetheless. Payet would use his positioning to drag defenders out of position which would allow Ünder and Gerson to run in behind in those spaces, and Payet himself would look to take on players with the ball and shoot from any half-chances available. His link-up and killer balls were just excellent, often finding players running in diagonally over the top. His touch was impeccable too, he would very rarely lose the ball due to being pressed. 16 goals and 10 assists is the kind of tally that gets you into the Ballon d’Or shortlist, and I’m definitely rooting for him.
1st - Paris Saint-Germain
Der Kaiser: Achraf Hakimi (RB)
PSG’s defense struggled with rabid inconsistency and a lack of clear roles but Hakimi was relatively consistent throughout the season. His defensive responsibilities were relaxed to allow him to bomb forward and provide width to the attack, and while this can be seen as a weakness, Hakimi did have the pace and stamina to track back on a regular basis. 4 goals and 6 assists is a worthwhile record for the risk taken.
Fußballgott: Marco Verratti (CM/CDM)
Verratti has been PSG’s best midfielder for a decade, and continued that quiet simmering class with another great season. With the midfield basically being a revolving door of whoever is available that weekend, Verratti was there for a very good chunk of the season, and was key whenever he played. His ability to drop and collect the ball before progressing it to the forward lines is something that just cannot be understated. With the front three not dropping deep outside of a certain Argentinian, Verratti’s role was crucial to the team having any success domestically.
Der Bomber: Lionel Messi (CF/RW)
Messi is not the best player in the world. Messi is not even the best player in Paris. But Messi is still not only world class, but one of the best players in the world. 11 goals and 14 assists are extremely good figures, but not up to his standard. However, towards the end of the season Messi found his role dropping deep as a false 9 to drag defenders short and open up space in behind for his attacking partners to run into, and take on players with what is in my opinion the best pure dribbling technique of all time. His ability to play balls over the top was top notch as usual, and accentuated by the pace of the players around him.
Meister of the Season: Kylian Mbappé (ST/LW)
While he’s definitely not worth €800 billion or however much PSG have offered him, it is indisputable that Mbappé is one of the best players in the world. 36 goals and 21 assists is a frankly unbelievable amount of goal contributions, and Real Madrid definitely will regret not having him with those kind of numbers. Running in diagonally from the left half-space, his pace allowed him to catch onto Messi’s balls over the top, and with his excellent dribbling and finishing, he would not miss many chances. However, Mbappé struggles heavily with staying offside, often mistiming his runs or just roaming offside instead of trying to get on-side. The link-up between the front three of Messi, Mbappé and Neymar Jr. was just something else, and while Messi was at the centre of it, Mbappé held the left flank down almost by himself while the right flank had an overload with Neymar and Hakimi.
What do you guys think of these awards? Have I missed anyone but Marquinhos? Let us know in the forum below.