France Ligue 2 – Toulouse FC Season Preview 2020/21

Toulouse Defence

In goal TFC have signed Maxime Dupe from Nantes. He was on loan at Clermont last season and proved to be one of the best keepers in Ligue 2. Mauro Goicoechea will be a very able backup at this level. On paper, perhaps the best area of this Toulouse squad would appear to be at the back. Captain Ruben Gabrielsen is a big unit and authoritative whilst the likes of Bafode Diakate and Kelvin Amian are powerful players. Out wide they’ve signed Deiver Machado, a Colombian left back from Belgian side Gent. Steven Moreira when he returns to fitness can be employed on either flank. There’s some backup with the likes of Moussa Diarra, Augustin Rogel and Mathieu Goncalves. One they get settled into this league the potential is certainly there for Toulouse to be solid defensively. I am surprised to see Ibrahim Sangre still on the roster. The stud defensive midfielder must surely leave the club at some stage this season. He is too good for Ligue 2 level and will be difficult to replace. For now, he’s still part of the team though. Branco van den Boomen has been signed from Dutch side De Graafschap although he seems more of a box to box type midfielder.

Key players - Ruben Gabrielsen (DC), Ibrahim Sangare (DM)

Youngster to watch - Bafode Diakite (DC)

Toulouse Offense

TFC scored a pathetic 22 goals in the top flight last season. Gone are the likes of Max Gradel, Mathieu Dossevi and the often injury prone Yaya Sanogo. Vakoun Issouf Bayo looks like a decent addition on loan from Celtic. The Ivorian striker scored twice on his debut and at this level of football should be a threat. Englishman Rhys Healey is an interesting, and perhaps surprising addition. He had an excellent goalscoring record in English League 1 last season and if he settles into life at this level could prove to be a decent capture. Wesley Said is out injured until the new year after recovering from ACL surgery. There are youngsters like Janis Antiste, Nathan N’Goumou and Amine Adli who could potentially step up. More is needed from Aaron Leya Iseka who often misses too many big chances. Toulouse lack central playmakers and that is a clear area of weakness right now. Youngster Manu Kone is one to keep an eye on though. I suspect they aren’t yet done with some of their transfer dealings but they could definitely do with adding a playmaker. There’s probably enough goals in the team but still a few question marks for sure. Edit - on the day of publishing this preview TFC have signed Brecht Dejaegere from Belgian side Gent on loan with an option to buy. He is a central midfield playmaker.

Key players - Vakoun Issouf Bayo (ATT), Kouadio Kone (CM)

Youngster to watch - Janis Antiste (Winger)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

Toulouse were rock bottom of the table when COVID stopped the league, nearly so far adrift to be officially relegated. They can have no complaints and were well on their way down to Ligue 2. It feels like Toulouse had been flirting with relegation for a while and it finally happened. The club needed a reset and maybe this will do them some good in the long term. TFC ended last season losing 17 of their last 18 matches and have already started this campaign with two straight defeats. This is a club in a funk which might take some time to turn around. Ex Caen boss Patrice Garande has been hired as manager and he should be a solid sort of appointment. Garande has a history of changing up his tactics and already here in two games he’s gone with a 4-3-3 and a 3-5-2 system. Expectations are high in the violet city with the club president claiming anything less than promotion would be unacceptable. But as I also mentioned in my Amiens preview, it’s not easy these days to expect a bounce back promotion. It could take them a couple of even three transfer windows before that have the squad they need. There’s been a lot of movement both in and out of the club and it could take some time to settle down. The bad start of two losses won’t help and maybe they will be chasing throughout the campaign. Toulouse have enough quality on the field to fight at least for the playoffs but I certainly don’t think this will be an easy campaign by any means. They are easily the biggest club in the division and have a massive target on their back which everyone wants to beat. TFC averaged nearly 15,000 attendances last season so one of their biggest weapons of a large support will be significantly reduced by the new crowd restrictions. I don’t personally think we will see them make an immediate return to Ligue 1 unless it's via the playoffs.

Prediction: 5th Playoffs