Another Ligue 1 campaign begins on Friday after a big window for French football, the highlight of which was Paris Saint-Germain retaining Kylian Mbappe.

New arrivals in the league include returns for Lyon duo Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, while high-profile departures have seen Aurelien Tchouameni, Sven Botman and Nayef Aguerd depart.

With PSG once again investing heavily in their squad, adding the likes of Vitinha, Hugo Ekitike and Nordi Mukiele, the capital club are widely expected to storm to another title – but can there be an upset?

The verdict, unsurprisingly, is probably not – as Stats Perform AI predicted the outcome of the coming campaign, estimating the likelihood of teams finishing in each position informed by their expected results in each match.

These are calculated using betting odds and Stats Perform's team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances – and, while the title race is not likely to get going, there are some big battles elsewhere in the division.

PSG PARTY ONCE AGAIN

With one of the most expensive squads ever assembled, including the devastating attack of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG are unsurprisingly expected to romp to another Ligue 1 success.

Having won eight of the last nine titles, Stats Perform AI has given PSG a 76.01 per cent chance of retaining their crown.

Marseille, runners-up last season, are seen as the side most capable of mounting a challenge, though their 7.29 per cent chance is slim. Monaco, title winners in 2016-17, are given a 6.55 per cent chance.

Lyon, once the dominant force in French football, have just a 4.29 per cent chance, while Rennes clock in at 3.44 per cent and Lille, the last side to prevent PSG from winning the title having lifted the trophy in 2020-21, have only a 0.71 per cent chance.

The gulf in class within French football is highlighted by the fact that nine teams, almost half of the division, are seen as having no hope in mounting a title challenge.

 

SCRAMBLE FOR EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Unlike the other top leagues in European football, France has a limited number of places for qualification for UEFA competitions with just two guaranteed Champions League spots, one qualifying spot, one spot in the Europa League group stage and one in the Europa Conference League play-offs.

With PSG expected to surge to the title and take the first of the two group stage spots in the Champions League, with a 90.93 per cent likelihood, the scrap for the other automatic qualification spot could be fierce.

Marseille are seen as the favourites in that battle with a 29.97 per cent chance, with Monaco following suit with a 29.97 per cent chance.

Elsewhere, Lyon have an 18.7 per cent chance, with Rennes at 15.53 per cent, though they may have to settle for a third-place finish or a spot in the Europa League.

In the battle for fifth, and a play-off spot in the Conference League, it's also expected to be tight – with five clubs, as well as those already mentioned above, given at least a five per cent chance of reaching that spot.

Nice, Lens, Lille, Nantes and Strasbourg are all in with an outside shot of gunning for a spot in European competition, which could set up a thrilling battle.

 

REGULATION CHANGES INCREASE RELEGATION FIGHT

With Ligue 1 reducing to 18 teams from the 2023-24 season, the fight to avoid the drop to the second-tier will be fiercer than ever with the bottom four all being relegated – and there will be no play-offs either.

The situation looks bleak for Ajaccio (57.64 per cent chance of relegation), Clermont (57.57), Troyes (56.72) and Lorient (53.92), all of which are seen as more likely to suffer relegation than they are to avoid the drop.

Auxerre (46.58) and Toulouse (34.02) could also find themselves looking over their shoulders during the course of the season, while PSG, Marseille and Monaco are the three sides given no chance leaving the league through the bottom.

Of the promoted trio, it is Toulouse who are given the best chance of maintaining their top-flight status for another season – with their most likely position being 15th, with a 10.59 per cent chance of securing that spot.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi insisted his team are "on the right track" in their preparations for the new season, despite suffering a surprise 1-0 friendly defeat to Lens.

Saturday's friendly in France was a cagey affair, ultimately decided by a 91st-minute winner for the hosts when Lois Openda flicked on a corner at the near post, which looped into the far corner of the net.

Lens, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season, provided a stern test for their Serie A opponents, who fielded several of their new faces - including Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as second-half substitutes.

They were unable to make a difference though, with Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba - recently signed from Premier League side Nottingham Forest - making several important saves.

Inzaghi felt it was a good exercise for Inter, who will be striving to regain the Serie A title next season after being dethroned by city rivals Milan.

Crystal Palace have completed the signing of midfielder Cheick Doucoure from Lens.

The Mali international has signed a five-year deal for a reported fee of £18million (€21.3m), rising to over £22m (€26m) with add-ons, and is the third arrival at Selhurst Park since the end of last season, joining Malcolm Ebiowei and Sam Johnstone.

Patrick Vieira guided the club to 12th place in the Premier League in his first campaign in charge, and has now added one of the more impressive performers from Ligue 1 in the 2021-22 season.

Only Aurelien Tchouameni (101), who joined European champions Real Madrid from Monaco last month for a reported €80m fee that could rise to €100m with add-ons, made more interceptions as a midfielder in the French top flight than Doucoure (68) last term.

The 22-year-old scored once and recorded four assists for Lens last season, while only four midfielders in Ligue 1 created more chances from open play than his 41.

Speaking to the club's website after his transfer was announced, Doucoure said: "I'm very happy, I feel a lot of joy and a lot of pride to be a Palace player. I'm proud to be at Palace today."

Vieira will be hopeful Doucoure can fill the void left by Conor Gallagher, who has returned to Chelsea following a successful loan spell at Palace last season.

Chelsea have reportedly made Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly their top centre-back target as they look to rebuild their defence.

Koulibaly would help fill the gaping hole left by the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, who both opted to head to LaLiga on free transfers as the precarious situation with Roman Abramovich's ownership made it impossible to negotiate contract extensions.

The Stamford Bridge side are said to have had interest in Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt and Inter's Milan Skriniar, but with Juventus demanding £102million and Inter holding firm for at least £55m, the 31-year-old Napoli star is now viewed as the best option.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PREPARE MOVE TO BRING KOULIBALY TO STAMFORD BRIDGE

Koulibaly is coming off a season where he helped Napoli concede the equal-fewest goals in Serie A – giving up 31 goals in their 38 league games – while he also contributed three goals and three assists in 27 outings.

He has played no fewer than 34 games in any of his eight campaigns with Napoli, but he did miss a month of action this past season with a thigh strain – his third consecutive season where he has missed time with muscle strains in his legs.

The Mirror's report highlights that Chelsea are also in advanced discussions to land Manchester City's Raheem Sterling and Leeds United's Raphinha, with the plan to sell Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic to fund the moves.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to BILD, Borussia Dortmund would need to receive a bid of £103m to consider parting ways with Jude Bellingham in the current transfer window.

– 90min is reporting that Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal are all interested in Torino's 25-year-old Brazilian centre-back Gleison Bremer, with the Serie A club setting his price at £43m.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that Crystal Palace have agreed to an £18m fee for Lens midfielder Cheick Doucoure.

– According to Todofichajes, West Ham are willing to meet the £34m release clause for Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma.

– The Sun is reporting that Arsenal have made a third bid for Ajax's Lisandro Martinez – believed to be valued at £43m – while Talksport claims Manchester United are also trying to reunite the defender with Erik ten Hag.

Barcelona's much-publicised financial difficulties are creating unwanted kind of leverage in the transfer market.

The Blaugrana have been linked to the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah, but via a free transfer, circumventing the need for an initial outlay.

Reports suggest one of their transfer targets this off-season appears to be unattainable, though.

TOP STORY – SEVILLA STIFLE KOUNDE MOVE TO BARCELONA

Barcelona's reported interest in Jules Kounde will face a stumbling block in the form of Sevilla, according to Marca.

The Andalusian club have set a €60million price for Kounde, reportedly knowing that interest from Premier League clubs will meet that benchmark and effectively price Barcelona out of the market.

In addition, Sevilla would want to close the deal quickly, forcing Barcelona into cash-flow difficulty if they were to meet the demands for Kounde.

Barcelona are unwilling to pay the €60m despite sourcing fresh funds, with a reported need to primarily balance this year's budget.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal and Newcastle United are keen on Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz, whose contract runs out in 2023, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Borussia Dortmund are set to sign Ajax striker Sebastian Haller, per ESPN.

Real Madrid have stepped up their interest in Raheem Sterling with his future in Manchester City uncertain, the Mirror reports.

Chelsea are considering signing 29-year-old Lens full-back Jonathan Clauss, Goal is reporting.

Kylian Mbappe could be at Real Madrid next season, but Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo jokingly warned they may be feeling overconfident. 

PSG clinched their 10th Ligue 1 title in bizarre circumstances against Lens on Saturday, as fans made their way out of the stands in the 75th minute in protest at the club's management.

The game finished in a 1-1 draw with 10-man Lens equalising through Corentin Jean in the 88th minute at the Parc des Princes, and the final whistle was met with boos in some sections.

Mbappe has been involved in 51 goals (33 scored, 18 assisted) in 42 appearances in all competitions for PSG this season, more than double the haul of Lionel Messi (22 – nine goals, 13 assists) and almost three times as many as Neymar (18 – 11 goals, seven assists). 

Only Robert Lewandowski (53 – 48 goals, five assists) and Karim Benzema (52 – 39 goals, 13 assists) have managed more in all competitions across the top five European leagues.

Mbappe can leave PSG on a free transfer after his contract expires in June, but the club are understandably keen to tie him down to a renewal with Madrid circling. 

The World Cup-winning attacker insists his mind is not yet made up, and Leonardo playfully reminded Madrid that they have yet to prise Mbappe away from the club, despite their long-term interest. 

"In Madrid, they have been sure for the past three years that Kylian will end up at Real. Maybe they are a bit too sure about that," Leonardo told Sky Sport Italia. 

"When Kylian says he hasn't decided yet, I believe him. We have an upfront relationship. He is checking everything to make the best decision. 

"He knows we want him here and he is everyone's protege. Today, he is the best player in the world. He will make his decision together with us – the relationship is very good." 

He added to Canal+: "Kylian is still thinking. There's a possibility he'll stay. With or without him next season, it changes everything." 

Kylian Mbappe says he understands fan protests during Paris Saint-Germain's 1-1 draw with Lens on Saturday which sealed a 10th consecutive Ligue 1 title.

PSG clinched the French league title with four games to spare with the point against a 10-man Lens side, who equalised via Corentin Jean in the 88th minute.

Home fans started to make their exit in the 75th minute in protest of the club's management, while the final whistle was greeted by booing in sections of the Parc des Princes.

The 23-year-old Mbappe believes that while anger at the club's eventual failure to win the Champions League in spite of substantial investment in the squad this season is understandable, a need to move on remains.

"Disappointed by the fans? Me no, I'm adapting," Mbappe said. "They want to celebrate, they celebrate, they don't want to celebrate, they don't celebrate. They were disappointed, we totally understand them but it's still been a month since it's happened.

"They wanted to send a message, the club understood it. It's them who decide, we're nobody to tell them to celebrate or not. We won, we are happy."

Having contributed 22 goals and 15 assists in 31 league appearances this season, Mbappe has now secured a fifth Ligue 1 title to go with his 2018 World Cup triumph on the list of team honours.

While there's conjecture over whether the French international will stay at PSG, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, the ever-growing list of team and individual achievements is not lost upon him.

Ultimately, Mbappe says he and teammates found solace in the PSG dressing room, as fans celebrated outside the stadium.

"Maybe I'll stay and we won't win. I'm savouring the moment, it's my fifth title. I never thought I'd win so much so quickly. I'm savouring it and I'm continuing to work," he said.

"We were very happy, we celebrated in the locker room. Of course, the trophy was missing for a bigger festivity but the public was there. I think people were happy to be there. It's not because a minority of supporters left, they don't represent all PSG supporters.

"The stadium was full, we thanked them. Afterwards, we wanted to get closer to each other, meet between players to celebrate in the locker room."

Lionel Messi scored a fine goal as Paris Saint-Germain sealed the Ligue 1 title despite being pegged back late on by 10-man Lens in a 1-1 draw at the Parc des Princes.

PSG went into the game knowing a point would be enough to claim a record-tying 10th Ligue 1 title and were hoping to get the job done in style on home turf.

Lens had Kevin Danso sent off in the 57th minute, and 11 minutes later Messi effectively clinched the title with a magnificent long-range goal.

Yet the title-winning moment was spoiled somewhat as slack PSG defending allowed Corentin Jean to steal in at the far post and ensure the hosts secured the trophy with a damp squib rather than a bang.

Mauricio Pochettino's men were booed off by the home fans at half-time, Seko Fofana and Danso having spurned early chances for Lens before Achraf Hakimi and Neymar went close for PSG.

PSG were improved after the break and Kylian Mbappe was denied by Jean-Louis Leca's save and Christopher Maurice Wooh's goal-line clearance from the rebound following Marco Verratti's quickly taken free-kick.

Danso paid the price for a rash challenge on Neymar on the edge of the area as he received a second yellow card. Although Leca turned Messi's subsequent free-kick behind, he could do nothing to prevent the Argentina international's thunderbolt from finding the net 10 minutes later.

It was a trademark Messi finish, his 25-yard shot lacking in perfect placement but possessing both the bend and velocity to leave Leca with no chance.

Yet the frustration that defined much of the evening returned in the 88th minute when Jean slid in to turn home Deiver Machado's ball across the face of goal and dampen the celebrations.

Mauricio Pochettino quipped that he would like to take Kylian Mbappe "on vacation" and home with him if it ensured he will stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe has just over two months remaining on his PSG contract and his future remains up in the air.

Real Madrid are reportedly confident of signing the France forward as a free agent, with Erling Haaland thought to be on his way to Manchester City rather than the Spanish capital.

Head coach Pochettino wants Mbappe to sign a long-term deal with PSG and hopes an agreement can be reached after his side have regained the Ligue 1 title, a feat they can achieve if they pick up a point against Lens on Saturday.

He told reporters: "As a coach, the situation does not bother me. You have to understand it. This does not only happen in Paris, but also in other clubs. 

"This is not the first, nor the last time that such situations arise. We have to adapt. Selfishly, I would like to keep Kylian with me, of course. 

"I would like to take him on vacation, take him home, keep him all the time. The club would like him to be able to stay here for a long time. It's a negotiation. 

"This decision is always related to different parties. It may be taken once the objective of the title is reached, once the season is over."

The Parisian giants are set to match the record of 10 Ligue 1 titles held by Saint-Etienne and Marseille.

PSG were dethroned by Lille last season and although there has been discontent from supporters after they missed out on Champions League glory once again, Pochettino says they must celebrate another domestic triumph.

The former Tottenham boss said: "You always have to value the possibility of winning a league title because when you don't win it, it becomes a big problem. 

"From my personal level, it is very important. It is also for the supporters and we hope that they will celebrate it with us, that they will agree to put the current situation on hold, knowing that the criticisms remain constructive and that the club remains attentive to them. 

"Afterwards, the club will make the decisions that will have to be taken. I just hope that tomorrow the fans will be with us and that we can celebrate the title together."

Didier Deschamps says those who jeered Jonathan Clauss on his full debut are not true supporters and their opinion therefore does not count.

Clauss was handed a first start for Les Blues in Tuesday's 5-0 friendly win against South Africa, four days after earning his maiden cap as a late substitute against Ivory Coast.

However, the occasion – and indeed France's emphatic victory – was somewhat overshadowed by the reaction Clauss received from a section of his country's own fans.

The 28-year-old was targeted at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, the home of club side Lens' fierce rivals Lille, and Deschamps has praised the full-back for the way he handled the boos.

"I wanted to make him as comfortable as possible, so I find it regrettable to say the least what happened," he said at his post-match news conference.

"It goes against what the France team is, but it didn't stop him from bouncing back. Those who foolishly protested with whistles, it was faded by what he was doing on the pitch."

Asked if the jeers call into question France's decision to stage friendlies away from the Stade de France, Deschamps said: "No, I don't think so.

"But the fact we're talking about it, even if it was only a few people, encourages them to do it. It must be a non-subject – there's no place for it in a stadium.

"There is a rivalry between clubs, which I understand, but here we are with the France team. 

"I ask them to do everything possible to unite the team. The other people are not supporters; they don't matter."

Clauss can be pleased with his display, having intercepted the ball more times than anyone (five), while only Adrien Rabiot won possession more often (14 compared to seven).

In an attacking sense, meanwhile, only Olivier Giroud (eight) and Kylian Mbappe (20) had more touches in the opposition box than the defender's five, level with Lucas Digne.

"He has a lot of dynamism and is able to defend," Deschamps added. "I told him not to play with the handbrake today."

Mbappe scored twice in France's routine victory and assisted Matteo Guendouzi's first international goal late on after Khuliso Mudau had been sent off for the visitors.

In doing so, Mbappe became the first player to net in five successive France matches since Karim Benzema did so between November 2013 and June 2014.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker is 25 goals short of Thierry Henry's record of 51 for France, but Deschamps insists his side are not a one-man team.

"It's not Kylian and the others, but Kylian with the others – that's important.

"His legs were on fire today. His ability to score and accelerate places him among the world's most outstanding players."

Wissam Ben Yedder was also on target for France, as was Olivier Giroud with his 48th international goal, moving him within touching distance of Henry's all-time record.

Giroud will be 36 by the time the 2022 World Cup comes around in November and Deschamps could not offer any guarantees over his long-term future in the squad.

"I've had discussions with him, as I have with many players," Deschamps said. "I don't know about the future and neither does he.

"But when he's here, he has the ability to score. His profile is well known – he's a support striker. He has this sense of the goal and is important for us even without scoring."

It's officially a World Cup year, that means footballers all over the globe will be hoping to get themselves into contention for their own shot at glory in Qatar.

Back in November, Stats Perform began their one-year countdown to the biggest show in football by identifying 11 uncapped players who could potential break into their respective national squads before Qatar 2022 got under way.

With February now upon us, we have revisited those players to see how they have been faring and whether a trip to World Cup looks any likelier…

Luis Maximiano (Portugal) – 23, goalkeeper, Granada

Having been one of LaLiga's form goalkeepers during the early stages of the season, Maximiano has been a little rocky lately. Since the start of December, he has conceded 10 times (excluding own goals) in the league despite those chances only being worth 7.9 xG – that puts him at least partly at fault for 2.1 goals, the sixth-worst over that period.

 

Jonathan Clauss (France) – 29, right-back, Lens

Clauss continues to show his worth in Ligue 1. Since December 1, his three assists have been bettered by only Dimitri Payet and Lovro Majer. Granted, the expected assists (xA) value of those was only 1.2, so there's an element of luck or benefiting from expert finishing, but he's still proving himself a good outlet both out wide and from set plays.

 

Bremer (Brazil) – 24, centre-back, Torino

Torino managed to keep Bremer in January before they extended his contract by a year to 2024 on Wednesday. Not only does that protect his value to the club, it was also a just reward for his reliable form. Since December 1, his tally of 21 interceptions is the second-highest among Serie A defenders, as is his 28 aerial wins.

Sven Botman (Netherlands) – 22, centre-back, Lille

Lille stood firm as Newcastle United tried to prise Botman away in January. Over the past two months, the Dutchman has continued to look an imperious presence at the back – his duel success rate (76.5 per cent) is the highest among defenders with at least 300 minutes on the pitch, while only two of those to have engaged in more than 11 aerials can better his success rate (79 per cent) in the air.

Angelino (Spain) – 25, left-back, RB Leipzig

Spain certainly aren't short of quality options in this area of the pitch, but Angelino is still a standout from an attacking sense. Since early December, his 3.0 xA is the best in the Bundesliga, while only five players have played more key passes than him (16).

 

Riqui Puig (Spain) – 22, midfielder, Barcelona

It's not looking good for Puig. It was thought Xavi's arrival might finally be the break he needed, but he has played only 158 minutes of LaLiga football in the past two months, and that was a period that saw Barca under real stress amid an injury and COVID-19 crisis. With players returning to action, including Pedri, few would be surprised to see his minutes reduce even further.

Christopher Nkunku (France) – 24, midfielder, RB Leipzig

Nkunku continues to look to be in with a great chance of forcing himself into France reckoning. Since we last checked on him, the versatile midfielder has scored four non-penalty Bundesliga goals, bettered by only four players (all out-and-out strikers), and laid on three assists. Only five players have tallied more goal involvements over the same period.

 

Alan Velasco (Argentina) – 19, winger, FC Dallas

Young talents leaving South American countries for MLS is becoming a recurring them – Velasco is the latest. The young winger became Dallas' record signing on February 1, reportedly costing $7million. He has not played much in recent months due to the Argentinian football calendar, so it will be intriguing to see if he kicks on when MLS starts again at the end of the month.

Cade Cowell (United States) – 18, forward, San Jose Earthquakes

The first success story on this list! Cowell was given his international bow in December as the USA beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0. He did only feature for 12 minutes, and it was a partly experimental squad, but a cap is a cap.

Amine Gouiri (France) – 21, forward, Nice

Gouiri is another who continues to plug away to good effect. He slowed a little, and his return of five goal involvements (three assists, two goals) in the specified period is bettered by as many as eight players, though only Payet has as many as seven. The exciting forward is still doing well, though he could do with another minor boost.

 

Matias Arezo (Uruguay) – 19, forward, Granada

With the Uruguayan season finishing in early December, Arezo has not played much since his form was last examined – though he did get one more goal to take his seasonal tally to 15 in 29 games for River Plate (URU). That form earned him his shot in Europe, with Granada pulling off a potentially major coup in bringing him to Spain for about €3million. He awaits a first senior cap, though Uruguay are back in an automatic qualification spot.

Mauricio Pochettino accepts Paris Saint-Germain were not at their best in the 1-1 draw with Lens but believes a draw was a fair result.

Georginio Wijnaldum headed home in stoppage time to salvage a point after Keylor Navas had dropped Seko Fofana's long-range drive into his own net.

The result meant PSG have now picked up 16 points from losing positions in Ligue 1 this season – more than any other team in the big five European leagues.

PSG allowed a spirited Lens side 18 shots, and Pochettino acknowledged it was not an easy game for his side, who are now 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1.

"You have to give credit to Lens, who are an aggressive team who played a very good game," he told a media conference.

"It wasn't our best night, but it's good that the team kept fighting. Lens is one of the teams that gives us the most difficulty.

"We lost a lot of balls, especially at the start of the match, which prevented us from putting ourselves in the right positions.

"The result is fair. We lacked a little precision and freshness due to our busy schedule."

Kylian Mbappe created Wijnaldum's goal with a superb cross after being introduced from the substitutes' bench in the 70th minute.

The France international has now been involved in 15 goals in Ligue 1 this season (seven goals, eight assists), with only Robert Lewandowski (17), Karim Benzema (19) and Mohamed Salah (22) doing better in Europe's big five leagues.

"I tried to give solutions to the players by making changes," Pochettino added. "Kylian has played a lot of matches in a row, he felt a little tired. We thought we had to give him a breather."

While PSG did manage to seal a late point, they have now gone two consecutive Ligue 1 games without a win for the first time since Pochettino took over in January.

Despite that, midfielder Marco Verratti was pleased with the result, praising his team-mates' character during a pulsating game.

"Lens are a team that plays in a very special way; it's a team that I like a lot, they have a lot of courage," the Italy international told Canal+.

"It feels good to play matches of this nature; you could say a little English style, with lots of chances on both sides. It was a very intense game, played until the end.

"We congratulate the Lens team, but we also showed a lot of character. We wanted to win today, but it was very hard."

PSG, whose place in the Champions League knockout stages has already been secured, take on Club Brugge in their final Group A game on Tuesday, before hosting Monaco in Ligue 1 next weekend.

Georginio Wijnaldum scored in stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw for a below-par Paris Saint-Germain against Lens at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Saturday.

After Lionel Messi hit the post, Mauricio Pochettino's side, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Nice on Wednesday, looked like they were on their way to a second Ligue 1 defeat of the season when Keylor Navas dropped Seko Fofana's effort into his own net after 62 minutes. 

Wijnaldum – introduced in the 70th minute for Leandro Paredes – headed home fellow substitute Kylian Mbappe's left-wing cross two minutes into added time to secure a point for the leaders, though.

The result meant PSG moved 13 points clear of second-placed Marseille, who have a game in hand, while Lens remain in fifth.

Sergio Ramos has been ruled out of Paris Saint-Germain's clash with Lens as the defender's injury-plagued start to life in the French capital goes on. 

The 35-year-old has endured a frustrating time of things since arriving at the Parc des Princes from Real Madrid, whom he had represented for the previous 16 seasons.

Ramos made his long-awaited debut in last weekend's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne, but he was not included in the squad for the midweek stalemate against Nice.

Spain international Ramos will again be absent on Saturday when PSG travel to Lens as Mauricio Pochettino's side attempt to get back to winning ways in Ligue 1.

"Ramos' workload has been adapted for muscle fatigue following his return to play. He will resume training with the squad on Sunday," read an update on PSG's official website.

Madrid legend Ramos has played just six matches at club level this calendar year, totalling 485 minutes on the field, while his last appearance for Spain came in March.

The 15 LaLiga games Ramos started last season was the fewest he managed for the club and a big drop from the 35 games started in the season before.

 

As well as being without Ramos against Lens, Ander Herrera, Julian Draxler and Neymar are also absent for PSG, with the latter ruled out for the remainder of the year.

Pochettino confirmed at Friday's pre-match news conference that he intends to make changes following his side's 0-0 draw with Nice.

That was the third time PSG have failed to score in their last 11 games, with Lionel Messi again firing a blank to leave his tally at one goal in eight Ligue 1 appearances.

Indeed, Messi has the highest differential (2.95) between his goals scored (1) and his expected goals (xG) (3.95) in Ligue 1 this term.

However, Pochettino is confident his compatriot will soon find his scoring touch in front of goal.

"It's a question of efficiency," Pochettino said. "Leo is someone who has always scored goals. It's also a matter of time and he's going to score a lot of goals here."

With the January transfer window now less than a month away, Pochettino is not yet thinking about bringing in any new recruits to bolster his star-studded squad.

"I'm not waiting for signatures at the winter break. I didn't talk about that after the Nice match. This is not the time to talk about this at all," he added.

"When the time comes, we will talk to the club to see if there are any needs in the team, but we are far from that."

Arsenal could look to offload Nicolas Pepe in the January transfer window.

The 26-year-old has not lived up to his billing after being signed in 2019.

Pepe has scored once in nine appearances for the Gunners this season.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN SET FOR JANUARY PEPE SWOOP

Italian giants Milan are interested in signing Arsenal's Ivorian winger Nicolas Pepe, claims Il Milanista.

Pepe has more than two years to run on his Gunners deal, having joined on a five-year contract from Lille in 2019 for a club-record fee of £72 million (€79m).

Arsenal may be willing to let Pepe go for a little as £25m in January.

ROUND-UP 

- Chelsea's Spanish full-back Cesar Azpilicueta is on Barcelona's transfer radar, according to SPORT. The 32-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season.

- Tottenham have joined Inter in having an interest in signing Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso, claims Kicker. Tolisso is out of contract at the end of this season.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that talks between Gavi and Barcelona on a five-year contract extension are progressing amid interest in the Spanish teenager from Chelsea.

- Jose Mourinho's Roma are considering a move to sign Atletico Madrid's Mexico international midfielder Hector Herrera in January, claims Calciomercato. Atletico are willing to cash in on Herrera, who is out of contract in mid-2022.

- Manchester City target Theo Hernandez is close to completing a contract renewal with Milan, according to Rudy Galetti. The Rossoneri have reached an agreement with him until 2026.

- FotoMac claims Mohamed Elneny's agent has reached an agreement with Arsenal for the Egyptian to leave in January. He was previously linked with Galatasaray.

- Lens midfielder Seko Fofana has been added to Newcastle United's shortlist of transfer targets, claims Foot Mercato.

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