Who makes the Ligue 1 Team of the Season based on Opta Data?

The Ligue 1 season has delivered its final verdict, with Paris Saint-Germain taking the crown as the most successful club in the league’s history by lifting their 11th title, with nine of them coming in the last 11 seasons.

The Parisian club even became the first club in the history of Ligue 1 to occupy first place in the standings at the end of all matchdays – having, incredibly, not left their seat since the end of MD3 in 2021-22, despite having a strong competitor behind them all season long. Indeed, Lens achieved the best season in their history (84 points) – only PSG in 2016-17 (87) have ever won more points without claiming the French league title.

After this highly competitive season, our data experts at OptaJean have picked their Ligue 1 Team of the Season for 2022-23 based on the numbers.

Brice Samba – Lens

In only his second full season in a European top-flight league (after 2018-19 with Caen in Ligue 1), Brice Samba has played a key role in Lens’ 2022-23 campaign and their return to the spotlight.

With a 77.8% save ratio, the goalkeeper was the best in the league in this metric (min. three games), helping him to the highest clean sheets total for a keeper in Ligue 1 this season (15), which in turn meant his club conceded their lowest total of goals over a single campaign in their 60 seasons in the top flight (29).

The 29-year-old, who was called up to the French national team for the first time in his career, also enjoyed a record 437 minutes without conceding a goal on his home turf between August and November.

Brice Samba Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year

Nuno Mendes – PSG

Despite making just 23 Ligue 1 2022-23 appearances, Nuno Mendes has been Paris Saint-Germain’s lucky charm. Without the defender, they won 53% of their games in Ligue 1 this season (8/15), compared to 83% with him in the team (19/23). They also scored more goals (2.7 – 1.7) and collected more points (2.5 – 1.8) per game with the Portuguese player on the pitch.

On his left wing, the man who has just been named as the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Season did what he does the best; allowing Paris’ attacking talents to shine. The second highest defender in 90-minute averages for assists (0.29) and big chances created (0.41) this season in the top flight (min.15 matches), he was one of the mainstays of the Parisian attack alongside the Mbappé-Messi-Neymar trio. He was a real headache for his opponents, with 1.6 successful dribbles and 1.5 fouls conceded per 90 minutes.

Nuno Mendes PSG Team of the Year

Danilo Pereira – PSG

Danilo Pereira was one of the main beneficiaries of the introduction of a three-man defence at Paris Saint-Germain for much of the season, alongside Hakimi and Nuno Mendes (more on him later).

With 33 appearances in Ligue 1 across 2022-23 (27 starts), the Portuguese international enjoyed his most complete season since 2015-16 in the Primeira Liga with Porto (33 games). Overall, only Vitinha (36) and Kylian Mbappé (34) played more league games for PSG than he did among outfield players.

The versatile 31-year-old did what it takes to make himself indispensable alongside Sergio Ramos and Marquinhos. Comfortable with the ball, he completed an average of 72 passes per 90 minutes, with only his teammate Ramos and Facundo Medina doing better among defenders with more than 1500 minutes played in Ligue 1 this season.

Successful passes, sure, but above all impactful ones. In 2022-23, no defender began more open play passing sequences leading to a goal than Danilo Pereira (five). With the announced departure of Sergio Ramos, it would not be surprising to see him continue to play a key role in the PSG defence next season.

Danilo Ligue 1 TOTS

Dante – Nice

The outfield player with the second most minutes played in Ligue 1 since in 2016-17 (17,954 minutes) – his first season at Nice – Dante has always been a consistent figure on the French riviera since his debut. He was the player with the most passes attempted (2,627) and completed (2,364) across the French top flight in 2022-23 and was integral to Nice’s passing sequences.

With the fourth highest total of successful long passes for a central defender in the top flight across the season, the Brazilian showed how key he was to advancing Nice up the pitch by having the second highest total of forward passes attempted in 2022-23 (949).

He’ll reach the grand age of 40 in October next season, but there’s no doubt he’ll still be an integral player – whether that’s at Nice or elsewhere.

Dante Oldest Player in Ligue 1

Achraf Hakimi – PSG

If we take a quick look at the figures, Achraf Hakimi’s season could appear somewhat disappointing. Involved in ‘only’ eight goals in Ligue 1 2022-23 (five goals, three assists), the Moroccan international recorded his lowest tally in the top five European leagues since his first season with Dortmund in 2018-19 (six). But outside of the topline stats, the PSG defender continued to prove that he remains one of the most dangerous and impactful defenders offensively in only his second Ligue 1 campaign.

The defender with the second-highest combined expected goals and expected assists total in Ligue 1 this season (9.1), Hakimi was able to express his talent in a Paris Saint-Germain side that used a three-man defence in 2022-23 (26 of 38 matches started with a back three in L1 this season).

Ever more involved in PSG’s attacking phases, Hakimi was one of the biggest attacking threats from defence, ranking as the best defender in Ligue 1 for starting off sequences that ended in a shot (35) and successful passes ending in the opponent’s final third (435), and second for chances created after a carry (14).

With 91 touches in the opposition box – the third highest tally for a Ligue 1 defender this season – the 2022 World Cup semi-finalist was both the initiator and the finisher of PGS’s attacking sequences. With five goals, he was PSG’s fourth top scorer in Ligue 1 this season, behind the irrepressible Mbappé-Messi-Neymar trio. And he did all of that with little or no waste of his teammates’ passes, converting 28% of his shots into goals (five goals from 18 shots).

Hakimi Ligue 1 Team of the Season

Defensive Midfield
Seko Fofana – Lens

Seko Fofana, who has been RC Lens’s captain in Ligue 1 for the last two years, was once again invaluable to his side. Ranked second in terms of carry distance for midfielders and forwards (8.4km), Fofana did not hesitate to try his luck from the distance, with the third-highest number of shots attempted from outside the box (46), even though he often lacked precision (only two goals from these shots).

Fofana was unlucky, however, as he hit the woodwork on six occasions, but that didn’t stop him from recording his best season in Ligue 1 in terms of goals involvements (12 – seven goals, five assists).

Seko Fofana Ligue 1 Team of the Season

Defensive Midfield
Marco Verratti – PSG

As the key figure in Paris Saint-Germain’s midfield for years now, Verratti was everywhere again this season in Ligue 1. Second in terms of touches (2,932 – including a record 155 this season against Auxerre in May) and first among midfielders, the Italian was key to the construction of PSG’s attacks.

Finishing third in terms of passes attempted (2,537) and completed (2,356), the midfielder did not hesitate to move the ball up the pitch, being the best in terms of successful forward passes (590) among non-defenders.

Verratti is also the player who received the most passes in Ligue 1 across (2,107), while no player started more sequences ended in a goal (six), making him an essential link in Christophe Galtier’s champions.

Marco Verratti Stats 2022-23

Right Forward
Rémy Cabella – Lille

In his first season with more than 30 Ligue 1 appearances since 2018-19 (32), Rémy Cabella has found a new lease of youth by becoming Lille’s playmaker this season.

The midfielder had the highest total of chances created (101), possession won in the opposition’s final third (32) and assists after a carry (six) in the top flight, showing his very best across the 2022-23 Ligue 1 campaign.

With the second highest expected assists total (12.1, only behind Lionel Messi) and the second highest total of big chances created (18), Cabella was logically among the players involved in the most sequences ending in a shot in Ligue 1 this season (sixth with 182), making him a key piece of this Opta team of the season.

Remy Cabella Ligue 1 Team of the Season

Attacking Midfield
Lionel Messi – PSG

In his second and final season in Paris, Messi was far more decisive than in the previous campaign with 16 goals and 16 assists, making him the only player with more than 15 goals and 15 assists in league games across the top five European leagues in 2022-23. He was therefore involved in 32 PSG goals, compared to 20 last season (six goals, 14 assists), and of course the Argentinian was again the man who scored the symbolic goal that clinched the title for his side, against Strasbourg.

Precious for creation, Messi set the pace across Europe for passes ending in final third (976, above Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes’ 903), through balls (58 – 23 more than any other player), total carries for a forward (813) and assists (16 – tied with Kevin De Bruyne and Antoine Griezmann).

Messi was also the player with the most carries with chances created in Ligue 1 (30), symbolising his role as a metronome in the PSG attack. In Ligue 1, only Rémy Cabella (101) and Benjamin Bourigeaud (98) created more chances for teammates than him (93 – 30 more than last season).

The 2022 World Cup winner also rediscovered his goalscoring touch, with 10 more goals than the previous season, while he attempted the second highest tally of shots in Ligue 1 (129), behind only Mbappé (149). Positioned in support of the Frenchman, Messi fired at goal 60 times from outside the box, with no player doing so more, scoring four goals from the distance – the league’s joint-best tally.

Lionel Messi's Stats at PSG

Left Forward
Kylian Mbappé PSG

PSG once again have Kylian Mbappé to thank. Crowned Ligue 1’s top scorer for the fifth consecutive season (a record held jointly with Jean-Pierre Papin), the Frenchman enjoyed a record-breaking season.

Having become his club’s all-time top scorer in all competitions, the striker was involved in 34 goals in France’s top flight (29 goals, five assists). Only Erling Haaland did better (44 goal involvements) across the top five European leagues, while Mbappé’s 34 goals and assists made him the player to win the most points for his team in Ligue 1 in 2022-23.

Being the leader for goals (29), shots (149), shots on target (79) and touches in the opposition box (326), it would have been a very different season for PSG if Mbappé had joined Real Madrid last summer.

With 45 shots following a carry (highest total) and 35 chances created in such situations (joint fourth), the Frenchman showed he could score, but also provided a creative threat for teammates. Another symbolic record, though, was Mbappé’s eight-second goal against Lille on 21 August, the fastest of the season. With a few tenths of a second to spare, he beat Michel Rio’s record from February 1992.

Ligue 1 Team of the Season Mbappe

Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon

For his comeback campaign in Lyon after five seasons at Arsenal, Lacazette immediately got back into the swing of things in France with a goal and an assist in the opening game of the Ligue 1 campaign.

He became an indispensable part of the Lyon side, with 2,937 minutes played this season. Across the entire league, only Jonathan David (3,176), Florian Sotoca (3,062) and Folarin Balogun (3,010) played more among forwards.

With 27 goals scored and five assists delivered, only Folarin Balogun (51.1% – 23/45) was involved in more of his team’s goals than Lacazette for Lyon in Ligue 1 (32/65 – 49.2%). With that goal tally, he became the sixth man over the last 75 years to score at least 27 goals in three different Ligue 1 seasons, after Carlos Bianchi (five), Thadée Cisowski (four), Delio Onnis (four), Kylian Mbappé (four) and Just Fontaine (three).

Thanks to the second-most prolific season of his career in terms of goal involvements (32, just below his 33 in 2014-15), Lacazette became Lyon’s second all-time top scorer in Ligue 1 with 127 goals, overtaking Bernard Lacombe (123). One particular highlight was his four-goal haul during one of the craziest games of the season against Montpellier (5-4), becoming the first OL player to do this since Lacombe in 1975.

Omnipresent in the opponents’ penalty area, the Lyon striker scored almost all of his goals from inside the box (26), with that being the highest tally in the league. Only Kylian Mbappé (326) and Jonathan David (234) had more touches in the opponent’s box that he did (223), while no one won more penalties than the Frenchman (three).

Lacazette Goals in 2022-23

Franck Haise – Lens

Ligue 2 runners-up in 2019-20, Ligue 1 runners-up in 2022-23 – what a trajectory for Franck Haise’s Lens. The man voted Ligue 1 Coach of the Year this season has also become general manager of RCL, proof that he represents something special within the club. Thanks to his efforts, Lens will be returning to the UEFA Champions League 20 years after their last appearance.

Intensity, risk-taking a forward-thinking strategy are all qualities for which the French coach can be credited. Thanks to him, Lens became the seventh team to reach the 80-point mark in a Ligue 1 season (84 – based on three points per win) after Paris Saint-Germain (nine times), Monaco (three times), Lyon (twice), Bordeaux, Montpellier and Lille (once), and just the third to do so without finishing champions after Monaco and PSG (both twice).

Lens ended the Ligue 1 season with 17 home wins, the joint-best total with Manchester City across the top five European leagues, while they also ended the campaign with seven wins in a row – the best run by any team this season.

Haise’s major task over the summer will be to keep all the stars that got them to the UCL for 2023-24. That might be easier said than done.

Ligue 1 Team of the Season 2022-23

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