From Thuram to Brassier: Milan’s Ligue 1 love affair likely to continue as links swirl

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan have taken on an increasingly French influence in recent years, and that particular market seems to be of interest to the club in view of the summer as well.

A look down the current Milan squad tells a story. Mike Maignan and Rafael Leao are among the best in the world in their position, and both arrived from Lille. Pierre Kalulu came from Lyon, Yacine Adli joined from Bordeaux, while Olivier Giroud and Ismael Bennacer have spent time in France too.

With the summer transfer window getting closer and closer, reports have suggested that the Rossoneri are again looking to Ligue 1 to plug some gaps in the current squad.

Moncada’s methodology

The then chief scout and now technical director Geoffrey Moncada gave an interesting interview with L’Equipe in which he highlighted why he likes focusing so much on players from his native land.

“I saw Strasbourg-Troyes, there were young players like Odobert (18), Diarra (19) and Doukouré (19) who were starters. It’s not a normal thing. I travel a lot and I see that the strongest market is the French one,” he said.

“I’m not crazy about the Brazilian one: it’s too expensive and involves difficulties in adapting. In France, the market is incredible: in every club there are interesting players. I see that teams also buy abroad, but this doesn’t work very well and then they put on the field the products of their youth sectors.

“Rennes bought Doku and Sulemana, who are good players, but in the end Doué (17 years old), Kalimuendo (20) and Ugochukwu (18) play instead. Monaco took Boadu and Minamino, but it’s the 17-year-old Seghir who plays.

“In Lyon, fortunately they have Gusto (19 years), Lukeba (20) and Cherki (19): they are the ones who the foreign scouts come to see, not the others. You cannot imagine the number of scouts who come to France. Many foreign clubs have two scouts in the country, one for the North and one for the South.”

Moncada was asked about the notion that – compared to other European countries – France works in a different way with young players, perhaps giving them more time and faith.

“In France, clubs have the desire to bring out players more than winning youth competitions. A club like Angers puts its best young players directly in the first team.

“The example of the Coppa Gambardella is surprising: it is the cup of the best under 19s. Most of the time it is not the top clubs that are represented, while in Italy the big clubs must always be present. In the Coppa Gambardella they barely show the final, while the Italian Primavera championship is all broadcast on TV.

“There is pressure. Juventus, Milan or Inter must win it, otherwise they will be criticised by the press. In this Youth League year, Marseille were demolished (4 draws and 2 defeats), but there was no talk of it.

“We at Milan have not lost a single game (4 wins and two draws) and there were several articles saying that he we respected the competition and gave a good image of Italy.

“I don’t know if French players are more ready than others, but in general they are not afraid. A Spaniard, an Italian or a German is afraid of failing. When I talk to Mike Maignan, he has no pressure, he just plays.

“It could be our mentality. In Italy, if a young player makes a mistake, they immediately say he’s not ready and he’ll stay on the bench for a while. Not in France.”

Scene set for the summer

With Moncada now the technical director at Milan, he has even more say than he did at the time of that interview and it is thus logical to imagine that the club might dip back into the Ligue 1 market.

The reports that have been circulating in the media have certainly reinforced this idea, with various players mentioned as targets hailing from the league across the Alps.

Youssouf Fofana

It has been reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport that Milan believe that Fofana is the right sort of midfielder to offer more stability next season as he is defensively minded. He is going to be out of contract with Monaco in the summer of 2025 and they want €30m, but €20m could be enough.

The player is said to be interested in making the move but he may need to make a decision very soon. He is expected to be in the France squad for Euro 2024 and Didier Deschamps has asked his players to try and finalise any transfer confusion before the tournament in Germany begins.

Khephren Thuram

The same source claimed recently that Milan are also after Marcus Thuram’s brother, who is a leader for Nice, and a new entry to Didier Deschamps’ national team. Today he has a market value of €40m, but with the advantage of a contract expiring in the summer of 2025 which makes him master of his own destiny.

The disadvantage is the international competition, with the usual Premier League teams interested, and that could make things a bit more difficult for Geoffrey Moncada and his team. However, he is another from France to have caught the eye.

Ibrahima Sissoko

Rounding off the trio of defensive midfielders we come to Sissoko, who said a few days ago is someone that Moncada has kept on his list given that the Diavolo have been scouting him for a few years.

Sissoko is entering his prime years given that he is 26 years of age and his deal runs out in June making him a free transfer opportunity. He has made 25 appearances across all competitions this season, with three assists.

Lilian Brassier

Given that Simon Kjaer’s deal runs out at the end of the season and the other options like Pierre Kalulu and Malick Thiaw have spent a long time out injured, it is perhaps no surprise to learn that Milan want a new centre-back.

It has been repeatedly reported by La Gazzetta – most recently late last month – that Milan have Brassier on their list. The Brest defender also has a deal which runs out in June 2025 which lowers his price tag, and he has 26 appearances under his belt in 2023-24.

Jonathan David

It is fairly well known that Milan have held interest in David for several years, but they have never taken the final step in acquiring the Canadian. This summer, though, they have the chance to do so for a ‘bargain’ price.

David, whose contract expires in 2025, will be available for €30m or less as per reports, which presents the club with an incredible opportunity. Not only would they be getting a proven goalscorer who is now back in form, but he can play across the front three too.

Akor Adams

Milan have been linked with a number of different strikers in view of the summer transfer window and Adams is one of them, given he scored seven goals in his first 11 Ligue 1 games of the season. He has gone a bit cold since, but remains an interesting profile.

Not only that, but MilanNews managed to get an interview with Adams in which they asked him about the links with the Rossoneri, and it would be fair to say that he came across as flattered.

Other names

If we expand the discussion to players that were linked in view of last summer – and those links sometimes come full circle – there are various other names that have been thrown out there.

For example, a report in France claimed that Milan are one of the sides interested in RC Lens centre-back Facundo Medina, while his team-mates Kevin Danso and Seko Fofana were also concretely linked.

Montpellier forward Elye Wahi has been mentioned by various sources, plus Lille winger Edon Zhegrova, Algerian youngster Badredine Bouanani of OGC Nice and Rayan Cherki of Lyon.

In conclusion, it seems as though Milan are now inseparable from the French market. It may be that none of the aforementioned players arrive, yet the previous business done suggests there might well be a few crumbs of truth.

Tags AC Milan Akor Adams Badredine Bouanani Edon Zhegrova Elye Wahi Facundo Medina Ibrahima Sissoko Jonathan David Kevin Danso Khephren Thuram Lilian Brassier Rayan Cherki seko fofana Youssouf Fofana


  1. Moncada’s methodology: as a French i buy Frenchs.
    somebody please tell him to scout Primavera too..
    i believe if our youngsters is in Ligue1 they are as good as players he mention

  2. If you look at all the players we bought and are performing. Not a single one is from ligue 1. Funny that, right?
    Btw i know adli came from ligue 1 but he’s basically a sub. Good boi but i would say he is performing. Not a starter, is he?

    And don’t mention rafa, he’s from Portugal.

    So that’s that about ligue 1

      1. Thought it was pretty obvious i was talking about in field players. And rafa spend a year at lille. That means nothing. Ligue 1 didn’t make him. Milan made him.

        1. So which palyers you have in mind exactly?
          Adli? Jury is still out on him. Except for that there’s few small purchases like FBT, Tata, Pellegri. Fringe players bought for peanuts.

          We are talking here about buying real first team players for real money. Leao and Mike are the only examples that can be applied here. Maybe also Adli.

          We are linked a lot with L1 players, but we are usually outbid by EPL.

          1. My point was pretty clear. We have not bought high performance players from ligue 1 and its silly 2 think we ever will.

            Because there are none

  3. A french scout looking at french players hmm 🤔 who would’ve thought.
    I think next transfer window will be interesting as it’s his and smug face’s first window without ghosts of directors past. it’ll be truly their own targets (unless some old ones somehow manage to show up). You don’t need analytics to buy Puli and RLC lol 😂

    1. Come on !!! who the hell doesnt like The French Connection 2 with Gene Hackman pummeling a bunch of crooks in Marseille 😛 sounds like karma doesnt it ?

      Kidding aside i actually do respect Moncadas work and even though I would prefer an AC Milan team with 75% Italians in the team i can wait for a while longer but one day more Italians will be incorporated or at least i hope so but I believe it will take some years but it will happen through our own ranks. I think the local scouting is already being done now and before this current ownership took over and we will bear the fruits of it later on but currently they are down in our youth ranks both primavera and below. Then maybe in the future we will add some here and there but whether people like it or not its also about balancing the finances and italian fotball players are often more expenssive than equal talents from abroad..

      1. Look at the full backs we were linked with last summer Cauliflower and Singo. They have been playing very well for their respective clubs. He does scout high potential players.

      2. Lol @ the Gene Hackman reference. Man that’s waaay old school even for me lol

        On football, im not sure how to judge Moncada’s work tbh. His past “finds” where he made his name really come from his time at Monaco but he used Luis Campos’ scouting network and infrastructure. So I always wondered if it was him specifically or Campos’ networks. I’ve only read about Moncada being the one who spotted MBappe for instance here on Sempre. When I google who discovered MBappe, mostly it’s Luis Campos that gets the credit 🤷‍♂️ . Even Campos gets credited for finding Fabinho for instance, the same name Moncada gave when asked which was his best find. Maybe it’s a bit of both I dunno.
        So far imo it’s not been that great but more a mixed bag. I’m not talking the Pulisics and the RLCs, though debateble on that one too. I was using Maldini’s words cheekily there….you dont need analytics for those. I’m talking about the unknowns that would become great. So far we’ve had CDK, Romero who he sent away after 6 months, Vranckx who he also sent away, mixed with the Thiaws and Kalulus. And in these comments, lines get blurred and questions about was it Maldini or Moncada and so on. Well, next transfer it’s all him.

        1. Forgot about this thread but must have been a bit drunk when i come up with hackman references 😀

          Well it might be the case that moncada didnt find this or that player but in the end i nevertheless like this seasons aquisitions but i nevertheless agree with the wording of maldini in regard of some transfer beeing obvious ones.

      3. Andrea Combiaso costs Juventus 8 M€

        Calafiori just 4M€,he is way more talented than Pellegrino who cost us the same amount, they have the same age-post-value

        I don’t think Italians young talent are that expensive

        1. I wasnt referring to those just about breaking through but more proven ones which often are sold for more than equal talent from abroad. That and the growth decree has made buying foreigners more affordable for the clubs in the last decade or something. Calafiori was also bought from a swizz club so that isnt exactly the best example in my view.

  4. I’m sorry but anyone that thinks we dont need Khephren Thuram if we can get him is delude or you haven’t watched him play . Khephren unlocks Reinjders , Adli and Benacers. If we get him for cheap (20 million), thats a bargain. I’m ready to sacrifice Loftus for him ( Loftus is playing at his best not getting better than this) and I’m sure a Tottenham or Aston villa will pay good money for him. Khephren can play box to box or dm better than anyone we have now. Also we need to promote one of the youth players and actually give them time !!!!!! Zeroli, Eletu , Cuena need game time, the primavera play beautiful football we cant play … free flowing. I’ll be mad if we dont give primavera players at least 10 start next season, cause if we dont have money develop the youth. its Simple !! look at Juve and Atlanta

  5. Mr moncada mr Zlatan go and buy savinho brasilian and dovbyuk Ukraina we get a new kaka shevchenko !!they are great players !!!!! Forza milan

  6. Reijnders – Fofana – Thuram
    Would be a greeat midfield.
    Sell Bennacer (love him but it’s time to go) and flip RLC for profit while his stock is high (wont last, trust me)

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