Bournemouth and Baggies should pay attention to Nantes duo

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Looking back through the squads of Nantes over the last two decades and the odd footballing gem has passed through their ranks.

Back in 1997/98 Claude Makelele left for Marseille, then in the 2006/07 campaign Lyon signed Jeremy Toulalan for less than £6m and the following season Dimitri Payet joined Saint-Etienne for marginally more than £3m.

However, Premier League teams have typically not had great success when making purchases from Nantes.

Eric Djemba-Djemba was ultimately a flop for Manchester United, Mathieu Berson hardly played for Aston Villa, Jordan Veretout left the same club after contributing little in their relegation season last term and Papy Djilobodji is now trying to find his way at Sunderland after signing for Chelsea and failing to make an appearance.

Despite this track record, there are two current players at Nantes that could be worthy of Premier League investment in the January transfer window:

Lucas Lima

Statistics from Who Scored indicate that the Brazilian left back is averaging 4.8 tackles per game this season, which can only be bettered by four players across Europe’s top five leagues.

Meanwhile, he is also an asset in an attacking sense, averaging 2.7 crosses per match too, which is the most in Ligue 1.

Throw in the 2.4 key passes that he is averaging and the summer signing from Portuguese club Arouca has made a fine start to life in France.

Bournemouth is one possible place where Lima could flourish, with the Cherries creating less than a quarter of their chances down their left flank this term, which is the lowest percentage in the Premier League.

From a defensive standpoint, Eddie Howe’s men are far from great down their left side either. Only Hull, Swansea and Sunderland have conceded more opportunities down this flank.

Amine Harit

Every team would profit from the outlet of a nippy dribbler, capable of beating their man, drawing a foul and relieving pressure.

Nantes have such a player in 19-year-old Harit, who generally plays centrally, but has also been utilised on occasions out wide.

His average of 3.8 dribblers per game this term makes him, like Lima, fifth ranked across Europe’s top five leagues, while he is fouled five times per fixture.

No team has scored more from set pieces than West Brom’s five goals this campaign and Tony Pulis doesn’t have many prolific dribblers within his ranks – only Burnley, Southampton and Hull have successfully taken on fewer opponents across the opening eight gameweeks.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.