Maximiliano Caufriez (r)(def) (Spartak Moscow); Andy Pelmard (def) (Basel); Habib Keita (mid) (Lyon); Theo Borne (gk) (Angers); Bilal Boutobba (att) (Niort); Yoel Armougom (def) (Sochaux); Massamba N’Diaye (gk) (Pau)
Souleymane Cisse (def) (Dijon); Saif-Eddine Khaoui (r)(mid) (Khor); Lucas Margueron (gk) (Seraing); Cem Turkmen (mid) (Anaragucu); Ouparine Djoco (gk) (Francs Borains, loan); Baila Diallo (def) (Lustenau, loan); Oliver Kamdem (def) (released)
Clermont were the surprise packed in Ligue 1 last season as they finished eighth in the standings – a dramatic improvement on the relegation battle the previous year and their best finish in their history. They improved at both ends of the field, but while they won 17 times and lost only 13, they ended the season with a negative goal difference.
Traditionally, they have taken a cautious approach in the transfer market and have not typically paid fees for players. This rule was broken on a couple of occasions last season while they have added three players to their ranks this time around for money: Max Caufriez, who was on loan last term, versatile defender Andy Pelmard from Basel and midfielder Habib Keita.
Clermont’s quiet progress is underlined by the fact that no bigger clubs came in to take their leading players, and that is something they will seek to take advantage of this season. They have a settled squad and it has been supplemented.
Grejohn Kyei was surprisingly effective in attack last season, and while Clermont often used wing-backs, they also employed two No.10s at times. The arrival of Bilal Boutobba from Niort – outstanding at Ligue 2 level – represents something of a wildcard deal but a potentially inspired one, while the likes of Elbasan Rashani, Muhammed Cham and Aiman Maurer also promise creativity.
In midfield, it remains to be seen how much more Johan Gastien and Maxime Gonalons have to give at 35 and 34 respectively, meaning that Keita and Yohann Magnin are liable to have significant roles.
Clermont’s defence, meanwhile, had a tendency to blow up at times last year but it also suffered from injury issues and head coach Pascal Gastien, whose decision to sign a new contract was perhaps the club’s biggest success of the summer, has moved to strengthen that area.
Despite last season’s tour de force, Clermont’s goal will be survival. This is more in expectation than hope now, though.