On the pitch, it has been an excellent season for Christophe Galtier and his Lille side. They sit top of Ligue 1 after 15 matches and have also progressed to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
However, off the pitch, things are taking a severe turn for the worst with debts rising, a takeover imminent and the likelihood of player sales increasing.
Galtier is doing his utmost to keep the momentum on the pitch with things spiralling out of control off it. His side are playing excellent football and have quietly put together a title bid. They are flying at the top a point clear of Paris Saint Germain.
However, this terrific challenge Galtier has put together could be ripped apart if Lille’s finances become even more precarious. The pressure is increasing on Gerard Lopez who needs to find funds to pay the debts or sell the club on.
Christophe Galtier Is Leading an Unlikely Lille Title Bid
Credit to the Players and the Manager
Despite the major financial uncertainties, Galtier continues to deliver vibrant attacking football at Lille. His team are efficient and difficult to beat and ultimately they are collecting victories. Galtier’s side have won their last three games. Overall, they have lost just once in the league all season. No side can match that record which shows how brilliant they have been.
Goals are spread across the side and a settled defence has largely been untroubled this season. Goalkeeper Mike Maignan has seven clean sheets and has only conceded 10 so far this season. Sven Botman and Jose Fonte have formed an excellent partnership in the heart of the defence starting 14 of Lille’s 15 league matches together. Unsurprisingly, this has been a major factor in Lille’s title bid.
Attacking wise, Lille are very good going forward. Their wingers Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone provide the width. Both have been regulars since joining the club. Bamba has been excellent this campaign, he has five goals and six assists in the league. His performances also earned him November’s player of the month award. While Ikone’s contribution has been quieter, he has still provided a threat coming inside and Galtier really has unlocked his qualities.
Canadian international Jonathan David has taken time to settle in France. He was the big-money replacement for Victor Osimhen. To his credit, he has worked at it and is slowly starting to score goals. He has two thus far but his overall performances are getting better. The go-to man for goals in the forward line has been Turkish international Burak Yilmaz. The experienced striker has adapted well to French football and really has made a significant contribution to the team. Yilmaz has six goals and has set up four others showing how crucial he is to the side.
The players deserve huge credit for their strong start to the season. Galtier also deserves credit for getting the team to solely focus on the footballing side of the club.
Despite Their Title Bid Gaining Momentum, Lille Face an Uncertain Future
While things are progressing well on the pitch, off the pitch things couldn’t be more different. The club face an uncertain future with debts mounting and the club need to find the money fast.
Current owner Gerard Lopez is under severe scrutiny from all corners of football. Lille’s precarious situation is a major course for concern. Lopez has ran up debts in excess of €130 million and this figure is also increasing. This on top on the severe financial problems Ligue 1 already has following the collapse of Mediapro. He is on borrowed time at Lille with the creditors and he is in danger of curtailing a project Christophe Galtier has worked hard to put together.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel with a takeover on the horizon. The creditors at the club have pressured Lopez into a sale which is close to being confirmed. This would be a saving grace for the whole football club but there is still a long way to go in terms of financial recovery. The prospective new owner is Dutchman Maarten Petermann who is likely to appoint former Rennes President Olivier Letang to oversee the day to day running.
While new ownership will be a welcomed relief, the debts the club have still need to be paid. The chances of player sales in January are likely to increase which will majorly hit Lille’s title ambitions.
With the Club in Severe Financial Difficulty, Galtier Is Likely to Lose Key Players in the January Transfer Window
With the January transfer window on the horizon and the club needing the funds, Christophe Galtier is likely to lose several members of his team with the club desperate to clear their debts.
Renato Sanches’s 18 months in France could be coming to an end. The Portuguese midfielder has recaptured his best form in France. He has rebuilt himself and certainly is showing the qualities we didn’t see at Bayern Munich or Swansea City. His departure would generate significant funds and there will be interest in the player with the European Championships on the horizon.
Turkish playmaker Yusuf Yazici will also be attracting interest. He has been one of Europe’s most in-form midfielders. Galtier has utilised him in the Europa League and he played a significant role in Lille’s progression. He has six goals in six group games. Despite starting just three league games, Yazici has been a regular from the bench and has also played well in the league contributing five goals and two assists. His performances on all fronts have been impressive and there will be interest in him.
Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone will also be on the radar of European clubs. Both have been fixtures in the team impressing this season. Lille also have quality young players who have impressed this campaign. Full back Zeki Celik is blossoming into one of Europe’s best right-backs. He has formed a great partnership with the rest of his teammates especially his compatriot Burak Yilmaz. His dynamic forward play and defensive intelligence have made him a quality full-back.
Croatian centre back Domagoj Bradaric has also impressed. The 21-year-old has adapted well to French football since arriving at the start of this season. Despite his recent arrival, he has already impressed some of Europe’s big guns and with Lille in a difficult position, it will hard to resist any offer that comes in.
Perhaps Lille’s biggest prized asset is the defensive midfielder Boubakary Soumare. The French Under 21 international has developed into one of the world’s best number sixes. His reading of the game and box to box abilities have impressed several teams including Premier League clubs. Newcastle United have twice tried to sign him and with Lille’s problems, the Magpies could explore that avenue again in the new year.
A difficult start to the new year lies ahead and Christophe Galtier will be fully aware of the challenges he will face. His team is likely to be stripped back and their season will be severely disrupted.
Despite the Uncertainties, Christophe Galtier Will Be Determined to Keep Their Title Bid Alive
While Galtier cannot control the off-field problems, he will be ready to ensure Lille remain in the title race. They have been fantastic this season and there is real belief in that squad they can challenge for the title. Lille sit top of the table and thoroughly deserve to be there.
A crucial end to 2020 sees Lille take on two title rivals. They face Paris Saint Germain and Montpellier in the space of three days. Two crucial matches for Galtier and his side. Victory against the Parisians will move them four clear of Thomas Tuchel’s team. Their first games of 2021 see them face inconsistent Angers and struggling Nimes. Four key games that could indicate how alive their title bid is.
Galtier can only do what he can to influence the team but his side could look extremely different by the time February rolls in. Despite the uncertain times ahead, credit must go to Galtier who has, in trying circumstances, put together a title bid.