Ligue 1 to rival top European leagues in years to come?

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It has been two years now since Paris Saint-Germain became the latest club to be ravished in riches from a wealthy buyout. 

Qatar Investment Authority saw fit to buy a club with an already made fan base, in a very popular European city, with the attempt to make them the superpower of world football. 

It did not happen overnight though, and their first full season under the new regime saw them squander the title to modest Montpellier, a club whose highest earners earn less in a month than Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes in a week. 

However, with marquee signings such as Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti and Ezquiel Lavezzi in the summer of 2012, they captured their first league title in 19 years, and only their third overall since being founded in 1970. 

Whilst many predicted a PSG domination over French football when they were bought in 2011, the same year, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought Ligue 2 club Monaco, with similar intentions to that of PSG's Qatari owners. Promotion to Ligue 1 followed for Monaco in 2013, and as expected, the money has been spent. 

Led by Claudio Ranieri back to France's top tier, the Italian has been allowed to bring in top quality players as they prepare themselves for a march on the Ligue 1 title, and in doing so. becoming the first French club to win both Ligue 2 and Ligue 1 back to back. 

Signings such as Porto duo Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez, alongside experienced travellers such as Ricardo Carvalho, Eric Abidal and Jeremy Toulalan have given the squad a great blend heading into the new season, and spearheaded by their marquee signing, Radamel Falcao, Monaco look poised for a title challenge.

PSG themselves have brought in their latest big coup, in the form of Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, although with a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic being the central striker, and quite openly wanting to be the diamond of his side, Cavani may have to accommodate for the Swede and play out of position. 

As the season has begun in France, with PSG drawing to Montpellier and Monaco starting life back in Ligue 1 with a win against Bordeaux, the question is can French football rival the big three of European football: the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga? 

It is all well and good to have money and quality at the top, but for a league trying to break in as one of the top European leagues of the present day, there needs to be more. 

Only La Liga has retained its place as a top league despite only have two real competitors for the league title: Barcelona and Real Madrid. 

Below that, Atletico Madrid and Valencia provide challenges but it is hard to see them ever coming out on top, a perfect sign of which being the loss of both their main strikers - Falcao to Monaco and Roberto Soldado to Tottenham Hotspur this summer. 

France's competitors come in the form of last season's runners-up Marseille and Lyon, a side who dominated the early 21st century in Ligue 1. Whereas both have proud histories, French domestic football cannot compete, unless there is a large pot of money in it for you, and the lure of challenging in the Champions League.

For French football to develop, the German model seems ideal, but what French football has that German does not, is wealthy owners ready to throw large sums of money into a project, German football instead has earned it's own money, and has stayed well within its means.

Although Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich may be the top two teams in Germany at the moment, the league on a whole is highly competitive and captivating to watch, which has created a new found buzz for the Bundesliga, a league which has since claimed third spot in UEFA's coefficient rankings, and has taken four Champions League spots with it, relegating Italy's Serie A to just three. 

French football can also learn a thing or two from the Premier League, both in terms of spending big, and developing a side on a small budget. 

Whereas Manchester City and Chelsea spent large, they have to a degree controlled their spending, and instead of overhauling a squad every season, are searching for a consistent squad despite trigger happy chairmen. 

Teams in France wondering how they can compete with the wealth of PSG and Monaco can look to teams such as Swansea and Everton as examples, with the latter becoming a consistent force at the top end of the table, despite operating on a minuscule budget in comparison to the top four.

Meanwhile Swansea have shown that success can be made by sticking to an ethos, both in playing style and transfer policies. 

The question for French football though, is whether it can succeed like any of the three above leagues.

What is evident though is that French football will not grow if dominated by two teams, part of Ligue 1's beauty is that in the last six seasons, there have been six different winners of the title, and of those six, only Lyon have won it more than once (7 consecutive titles from 2002-2008) in the 21st century. 

If teams like Marseille, Lille, Lyon - and to lesser extents Bordeaux and St. Etienne - can remain competitive, then French football may grow in interest to the wider audience, but those teams may have to wait for an opportunity to win Ligue 1 again if PSG and Monaco reign supreme.

However, the interest will be there - particularly so when the two teams meet for the first time on the 22 September - but the intrigue to the other 18 teams may be low. The appeal of French football may have risen, and whereas it may prove beneficial to the league itself, the ultra-competitive recent history of the league may become a thing of the past.

Ligue 1 may not be close to overhauling any of the top three leagues yet, but time may change that fact. If Monaco and PSG can establish themselves in Europe, and the teams below can strengthen and challenge, French football could very well become a popular destination for club football. Only time will help judge if this can be the case.


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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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