Top 5 prospects in French Ligue 1

M'Vila tops the list, but young guns Gonalons and Mollo not far behind

Originally Published: September 27, 2012
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
M'VilaMike Hewitt/Getty ImagesYann M'Vila leads French Ligue 1's list of top prospects.

In our first look at prospects across the European landscape, we'll go to the French Ligue 1, a historically strong pipeline to major clubs in Europe, particularly those in the Premier League.

But first let us define the term "prospect." There is no right or wrong way, but for consistency's sake, here is how we chose to define the term:

1. The player must be 23 years old or younger

2. The player must be in one of the following groups:

a) In a non-top five European domestic league
b) In one of the top five domestic leagues but not playing in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Part B is needed to weed out players who already have made it to a big team. Of course, teams like Chelsea and Barcelona all have prospects on their roster, but our goal is to find players not yet on major clubs who could -- and should -- be in the future.

And to clarify, the top five domestic leagues are England's Premier League, Spain's La Liga, Germany's Bundesliga, Italy's Serie A and France's Ligue 1. Portuguese and Dutch fans are more than welcome to be upset.

With the rules out of the way, let's look at the best young talent Ligue 1 has to offer.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.