Criticize Ligue 1 For Lack of Financial Muscle, Not Quality

From my experience, criticism of Ligue 1 typically comes from supporters of clubs in the Premier League.

The English league continues to grow in the United States and has a stranglehold on American football fans. The popularity of the league has led to those U.S. fans adopting the arrogant mentality that the Premier League is the best and no other league comes close, especially not Ligue 1.

The Premier League arrogance is best viewed on Twitter. All you have to do is look at any tweet from a verified account, Bleacher Report, for example, that mentions Paris Saint-Germain or Ligue 1 and the replies are full of “Farmers League” quips.

If you’re a PSG fan or a supporter of any club in France for that matter, you’re used to the banter Ligue 1 receives from misinformed football fans.

However, while it’s one thing for fans of the Premier League to throw insults, it’s quite another when a journalist who covers Major League Soccer lowers their professionalism for a moment to grab some cheap “likes” and “retweets” at the expense of the French league.

Instead of exposing Ligue 1 to the American soccer audience and taking a more positive approach, Will Parchman did what everyone else does on social media.

You only have to visit The Athletic‘s soccer homepage to see that they clearly only care about the Premier League and MLS, and maybe a little bit of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. You can’t expect their journalists to care about Ligue 1 when they don’t even cover it on a consistent basis.

For a league that sees many of the game’s biggest stars pass through its doors, it’s a disservice on the media’s part to not inform fans in the U.S. why so many players leave France for other leagues. It has nothing to do with the quality but more to do with the gap in wages. Other than PSG, few French teams can play a player the kind of salary they can earn elsewhere.

Many will say those players are leaving for greener pastures, in addition to a big payday, but that’s not always the case. Take Nicolas Pépé for example. His former club, Lille OSC, qualified for the UEFA Champions League, but that wasn’t enough for him to remain at the club when Arsenal FC came knocking with a lucrative contract already prepared despite not being able to offer Champions League football.

Recently, L’Equipe (via Transfermarkt) released the wages for players in Ligue 1 and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappé top the list. What’s surprising is when the next non-PSG player appears on the list, which is AS Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder, who is 12th on the list with an estimated monthly salary of €650,000.

Back to Pépé for a second, last season, the 24-year-old wasn’t on the top 30 list of salaries in Ligue 1, according to L’Equipe (via talkSPORT). The Ivorian didn’t even make as much as Monaco’s Kamil Glik who earned €72,500 per week, which is approximately €290,000 per month. At Arsenal, Pépé earns a reported £140,000 per week, which comes out to be about €660,000 per month.

With a massive jump in wages, it’s no surprise Pépé didn’t think twice when making the jump to the sinking Arsenal ship. At the same time, Lille is in fourth place in Ligue 1 and challenging for a Champions League qualifying spot. Arsenal may have better facilities than Lille and Pépé will get more exposure, but the main reason non-PSG players move away from Ligue 1 is not because of quality, it’s because of the money.

If you set PSG aside, other clubs in Ligue 1 are simply unable to match the wages offered by top teams in other leagues. That puts clubs like Stade Rennais, AS Saint-Étienne, and even Olympique Lyonnais in a position to take the transfer fee at the cost of hurting their squad for next season and even if they know the player isn’t ready to move on.

Again, Lille is the perfect example of this since they could never match the wages Arsenal offered. They decided to take the fee from the English club even though they knew it would mean they wouldn’t be able to seriously compete in the Champions League this season (finished last in their group with one point).

Despite Lille reinvesting some of the Pépé money on players like Renato Sanches and Timothy Weah, neither has matched the magic of Pépé or even Jonathan Ikone and Jonathan Bamba, who all combined to defeat PSG 5-1 last season. Football fans were robbed of a chance of seeing what the trio could do against Europe’s top clubs.

This is a long explanation in response to a ridiculous tweet, but it’s important that we inform football fans what is really going on in Ligue 1 instead of letting those who don’t watch the league at all form the narrative.

When you consider Ligue 1’s financial hurdles, it’s actually more impressive that clubs are able to consistently produce world-class talents.

Finally, if we are to judge an entire league based on a mistake by one player in one game, how would Mr. Parchman explain this?

Want more PSG? Visit the PSG Talk Podcast Network page and subscribe to PSG TalkingThe 1970, and 24th & Parc.

Tags Arsenal Jonathan Ikone Kylian Mbappé Ligue 1 Lille OSC Neymar Nicolas Pepe
Follow Us