As we await the beginning of the 2012/13 season across the rest of Europe, France gets a head start with Ligue 1 reopening this weekend. With that in mind we take a look at some of the new signings that could help their clubs to success. With Paris Saint Germain's wealth of additions already analysed in the blog - Can Ligue 1 Competitors Keep Up with PSG? - we look elsewhere at a number of deals that should reap the rewards for the buying clubs involved. We start, however, with a couple of free transfers that should really strengthen their respective sides.
Geoffrey Dernis (Montpellier to Brest - Free)
At 31, winger Geoffrey Dernis represents a fantastic new signing for Brest, who narrowly avoided the drop last season. The Frenchman played an important role in the first half of the season for eventual surprise champions Montpellier before injury saw his campaign curtailed in early February.
Before then he had netted 5 goals from 13 starts, playing mainly from the right to cut inside and average 1.7 shots per game. A tally of 34 shots led to a decent conversion rate of just under 15%, though his key pass and dribble averages of 0.7 were modest. An average rating of 6.60 may seem meagre, but based solely on his rating when starting matches his rating leapt to 6.87 and he should prove to be a valuable addition to Landry Chauvin's side.
Renaud Cohade (Valenciennes to Saint Etienne - Free)
27-year old midfielder Renaud Cohade could prove to be an even more astute capture by Saint Etienne having stood out as Valenciennes' star performer last season. Having decided not to renew his contract, Cohade chose to join Les Verts in their bid for European football having just missed out last time around.
A strong, all-round central midfielder, Cohade netted 7 goals last season from 60 shots at goal as well as registering 5 assists from 57 key passes. Defensively he is very sound, averaging 3.1 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, and he was at the heart of every Valenciennes move in 2011/12, with an average of 54.7 passes per game a full 15 more than any other player. Though Saint Etienne's gain is significant, Valenciennes' loss could be more so.
Yohan Mollo (Granada to Nancy)
It is fair to say that 23-year old winger Yohan Mollo has been about a bit in recent seasons, with Monaco loaning him to Caen in 2010 before an unsuccessful spell in Spain with Granada. It is tough to see why he wasn't given a chance in La Liga, impressing upon his return to Ligue 1 on loan at Nancy before making the switch permanent this summer.
He started just twice for Granada before a January loan move to Nancy, where he instantly became a regular in the side to start 18 games in the second half of the season. In that time with the French club he netted 3 goals but more impressively racked up 6 assists from an exceptional 3.1 key passes per game. With 1.6 successful dribbles per game and a cross accuracy of 26.5% from 166 attempts he will prove to be a real bargain for Nancy this term.
Alain Traore (Auxerre to Lorient)
There was no surprise when attacking midfielder Alain Traore left relegated Auxerre this summer, though Lorient may have pulled off quite a coup with his signature. His performances early on last season saw him attract interest from a number of top clubs, but a lack of consistency into the middle of the season saw him unable to help his side avoid the drop come May and his suitors fell by the wayside.
Despite a lack of form after a superb start to last season, 23-year old Traore still managed to net 9 goals, and he certainly isn't shot shy, averaging 2.7 per game including a number of great efforts and strikes from range. An average of 1.7 key passes per game perhaps deserved more than 4 assists, but his defensive work could be called into question and a meagre pass accuracy of 67.3% certainly needs work. Nevertheless, Traore is a very exciting signing for Lorient.
Steeve Elana (Brest to Lille)
When a club's goalkeeper is rated as the best player over the course of a season, you know he must have saved his side's skin on numerous occasions. That is certainly the case for Brest's Steeve Elana, who joins former champions Lille to offer competition to veteran keeper Mickael Landreau. No spring chicken himself at 32, Elana perhaps had his best season last year and will look to make the number 1 jersey his own at the Grand Stade Lille Metropole.
Elana's average rating of 6.96 was the second best of any stopper in the league last season having made 128 saves - the third most in the division. Said total was also way ahead of Landreau (83), while Elana also completed far more high claims (60 - 35) than his new teammate. However, the best indicator of his hefty contribution saw his side, which ranked 15th overall, only concede fewer goals (38), than table toppers Montpellier and Toulouse.
Daniel Congre (Toulouse to Montpellier)
Undoubtedly the highest profile signing for newly crowned champions Montpellier, Daniel Congre will bolster Rene Girard's defence as they enter the Champions League next season. His arrival could also be key if Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa leaves the club and could prove crucial to ensuring their excellent defensive record remains as such.
Montpellier conceded the joint fewest goals last season (34), and Congre joins from the side with which they shared that accolade, standing as a rock in the Toulouse backline. The 27-year old led the way for his former club in terms of clearances per game (6.6) and also impressed in terms of interceptions, with 3 per game. A pass accuracy of 81.8% was extremely assured and his all-round figures are not dissimilar to aforementioned Milan target Yanga-Mbiwa.
Marvin Martin (Sochaux to Lille)
Having lost star man Eden Hazard, Lille knew that they needed somewhat of a marquee signing to replace the Belgian. Step forward Marvin Martin, whose departure from Sochaux has been touted for some time now after picking up a remarkable joint-European high of 19 assists in the 2010/11 season.
Still just 24, Martin's 8 assists last term did not live up to the dizzying heights of the season before but it remains an impressive tally, though he will want to add to a lowly goal haul of just 2 in his first season with Lille. Though his average of 2.1 key passes per game is down on that of Hazard's his final ball is superb at times, creating more big chances for teammates than any other player last season (21). A variety to his passing is a key strength, with a 52% accuracy from 27 through ball attempts again proving that he knows how to weight a pass.