France Ligue 2 – Troyes Season Preview 2020/21

Troyes Defence

Gauthier Gallon is the #1 keeper and is just an average sort of custodian at this level. He will do a decent job but is nothing special. Sebastian Renot offers good experience as backup. The defence has lost big man Kiki Kouyate who was actually their top scorer last season with five goals. He is a huge physical and aerial unit who was lethal from set pieces and they will miss his presence. Coming in as a replacement is Gabriel Mutombo from relegated side Orleans. He is actually someone I’ve always rated and he is definitely a good signing. Troyes had the best defensive record away from home last season and there are some solid and reliable players here like Yoann Salmier, Jimmy Giraudon and Oualid El Hajam. Left back could be a problem area with the departure of Pape Gueye. Youngster Stone Mambo looks like the primary starter in that position now but his skills are probably better suited to centre back. If they really want to be competing right at the top end of the Ligue 2 table then adding an elite left back would be advantageous. ESTAC are well covered in defensive midfield with the likes of Florian Tardiu, Rayan Raveloson, Rui Pires and Rominigue Kouame. The quality is there for Troyes to have a very solid base again.

Key players - Jimmy Giraudon (DC), Florian Tardieu (DM)

Youngster to watch - Remy Vita (DL)

Troyes Offense

This is definitely an area that ESTAC knew they had to work on. A total of 34 goals scored wasn’t too bad but when your top scorer is a centre back (Kouyate) with 5 goals then you know there’s some sort of problem. Troyes need at least one striker to reach double digit goals this year but the good news is that there’s enough ability to deliver. Yoann Touzghar is no spring chicken, nearly at the age of 34 but is still an excellent ‘complete forward’ type of striker who can do a lot of things well. Let's not forget he was injured for a large chunk of last season and 4 goals in 16 games was an ‘ok’ return. Hyun Jun Suk was signed in the January transfer market and only played five games. The South Korean offers a more pacey technical threat and can get in behind defences. Troyes have signed Dylan Saint Louis who was once seen as an exceptional talent back in his Laval days. He hasn’t progressed as many expected but perhaps Troyes can unleash his full potential. Probably the key player for ESTAC in attack is Maxime Barthelme. He can play pretty much anywhere in the final third but is best used on the wings where he supplied 8 assists last season. Barthelme is a very good technical player and also excellent from set pieces. They perhaps lack quality depth in other creative areas. The likes of St Louis and Suk will probably play out wide sometimes. Englisman Levi Lumeka is an interesting signing from the Portuguese 2nd division and could provide a pacey threat out on the wings as well. Lenny Pintor has been brought back on loan from Lyon. In more central areas Dylan Chambost should get more starts this season and could be one to watch in terms of development.

Key players - Yoann Touzghar (ATT), Maxime Barthelme (Winger)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

Big news off the field is that ESTAC are now owned by the City group. I think we will see them getting plenty of investment into the playing squad over the next few years, although quite how soon I'm not entirely sure. The debut coaching season of Laurent Battles was a huge success. He guided Troyes to 5th position and they were hugely in the automatic promotion hunt before COVID stopped the league. Troyes can consider themselves unlucky that they never had the chance to complete the campaign but can still take plenty of positives. The weird thing was that ESTAC only had 3 draws out of 28 matches which is an exceptionally low figure for this division. They seemed to be an ‘all or nothing’ type of team and it will be interesting to see if that continues. Battles proved himself to be a decent tactician and also a strong motivator. It looks hiring him was a masterstroke and I personally think he got the maximum out of the team. Troyes look very similar this season with relatively little movement in and out of the club (so far) If their attack force can fire and score more goals from open play then there’s every reason to suggest they’ll be in the promotion hunt. Their average attendance was just over 6,000 last season so the reduced fans won’t impact them too much. Ideally they could do with a top class goalkeeper, left back and maybe another central playmaker but there is enough all round quality within this squad to compete towards the top of the table. Still with a month left and the whole of the January transfer window, I expect the City group will act by reinforcing. Troyes are one of the front runners for promotion this season because of that.

Prediction:- 2nd Automatic promotion