FRENCH LEAGUE 2018-19: Guide to promoted teams Reims, Nimes
PARIS (AP) — A look at Reims and Nimes as the promoted teams prepare for the French league opening this weekend.
Six-time champion Reims returned to the topflight after a two-year absence by clinching the Ligue 2 title in an impressive fashion. Reims enjoyed 28 wins, half on the road, to seal the title with a 15-point lead.
But the Champagne club has since lost its two best players.
Brazil midifielder Diego Rigonato, the Ligue 2′s best player last season with nine goals and 13 assists, left for Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates, while Jordan Siebatcheu, the team’s top scorer with 17, was sold to Rennes. Reims also lost a key defensive asset in central defender Julian Jeanvier, who left for English side Brentford.
To compensate for the losses, Reims signed Mali international Moussa Doumbia, a highly rated attacking midfielder from Rostov, and recruited Ghislain Konan, a 22-year-old Ivory Coast left back who has been playing with Vitoria Guimaraes since 2015.
The southern side is making its return to the top division for the first time in 25 years after finishing runner-up to Ligue 2 champion Reims last season.
The “Crocodiles,” who will be reunited with bitter rival and neighbor Montpellier among the elite, last played in the topflight in 1993 when former France international Laurent Blanc was at the club.
With an estimated budget of just 20 million euros, Nimes’ main ambition will be to avoid relegation at the end of the season. The club hopes to be able to keep Morocco striker Rachid Alioui and Umut Bozok — its best offensive players — during the summer’s transfer window. Alioui played a decisive role in helping Nimes gain promotion with 17 goals and four assists in 38 matches. He was injured on the final day of the championship and missed the World Cup after surgery to repair a torn hamstring.
Nimes, which finished runner-up in the topflight three years running from 1958-60, has hired defensive players including midfielder Moustapha Diallo and defenders Herve Lybohy, Florian Miguel and Loïck Landre. Forward Baptiste Guillaume and goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni have also joined the club.
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