With the European season drawing to a close the most exciting domestic campaign is to be found somewhat surprisingly in France. Despite their abundance of wealth it has been a difficult campaign for Paris St Germain as they crashed out of the Champions League to Barcelona in the first knockout round and in the league they are trailing by three points to Monaco who also have a game in hand.
That this young exciting Monaco side deserve to come out of this season with a trophy is undeniable but despite their relative success the true story of the French season has been in the ascendency of OGC Nice to third place in the table and a guaranteed Champions League qualifying spot.
Much of the credit for this performance must go to the former Borussia Monchengladbach coach Lucien Favre who joined the club before the start of the season and has moulded the young side in to a dangerous attacking force that have caught the eye of many neutrals.
One of the most prominent players in this Nice side is the Ivorian central midfielder Jean Michael Seri. Having moved to Nice in 2015 from Portuguese side Pacos Ferreira this season has seen Seri truly develop in to one of best midfield players in the league with the capacity to perform equally well in the defensive or attacking phases of the game.
Indeed the 25 year old midfielder has now developed to the point where a move to one of the giants of European football appears to be on the cards with both Spurs and Arsenal recently linked to the midfielder joining the likes of Barcelona and Paris St Germain on his list of admirers, If Seri does leave Nice in the coming transfer window he is unlikely to come cheap with prices ranging from 20M to 40M already being stated in the media.
What type of player would these clubs be getting though?
Creativity and vision in the final third
Jean Michael Seri is very much a modern midfielder in that it is difficult to ascertain exactly which role in the centre of the pitch suits him the most. Whilst he does not operate as a true defensive midfielder he is excellent in the defensive phase and whilst not a playmaker as such he is comfortable moving in to the final third of the field in possession of the ball.
Indeed his style of play in general is reminiscent of Naby Keita at Red Bull Leipzig the all action midfielder who is attracting notable interest.
Here we see Seri sitting in a central position. As the ball is worked across in to him we see that the midfielder has dropped off in to a pocket of space with the opposition moving back in to a relatively deep block.
When Seri takes possession the vertical passing lanes in the central area are tight given the positioning of the opposition in the low block.
We see Seri pause initially in possession before finding the space to play the ball through to the attacking player who has made the run to the edge of the penalty area.
Here Seri is operating in a slightly deeper position as he initially looks to take the ball from the centre back. Instead the first pass bypasses Seri in to the feet of the midfielder in advance of Seri who immediately sets the ball back to the Ivorian midfielder.
With Seri in a pocket of space and with the field in front of him we see him assess his options before playing a through ball past the defensive lines and in to the feet of an attacking player.
On this occasion Seri initially collects the ball in a slightly more advanced area as again we see him drop off of the nearest line of defenders in an attempt to find space.
If you look closely you can see Seri scanning the field before taking the first pass. His first touch sets the ball back in to space and allows him the space to execute the pass properly.
His vision is demonstrated as he immediately spins and plays the pass past the inside of the fullback in to the path of the advancing player.
Ability to access space with more direct passing
As well as having the capacity to link play with short accurate passes Seri is equally capable of using more direct passing to access space in the wide areas to change the focus of the teams attack.
The decision making from Seri in possession is one of the aspects of the game in which he stands out with a pass being very rarely wasted.
In this example we see Seri switching the focus of the play from the right to the left hand side and forcing the opposition defensive block to pivot from a narrow block aligned on the right side to cover the ball now in the wide left area.
It is the awareness of the entire field that Seri shows in this clip that is the most impressive. He does not have to think about where to play the ball before it arrives as he has already identified the space in the wide left area of the field.
As the ball is played in to his feet he simply opens up and clips an accurate high pass out to the player in the wide left area.
Once more in this example we see Seri receive the pass before playing it in to the feet of a teammate who is moving in to space in the wide area.
The Nancy defensive block is set narrow and deep with the two wide midfielders also tucked in. When Seri takes possession of the ball there is an opportunity to play a vertical ball in to the striker who has dropped off in to space. The issue would be that the striker has little in the way of immediate support.
Instead we see Seri clip the ball over the heads of the defensive block to access the run being made on the right hand side of the field.
Ability to contribute goals.
As well as being able to link play and distribute the ball effectively Seri also carries something of a goal threat with his ability to make runs from deeper areas in to the box or even to finish from distance when given the time and space to do so.
Playing in this match against Nantes we see Nice already a goal behind and looking to push up the field in order to score and get back in to the match.
The ball is gradually worked in to the central area where the player in possession flicks the ball behind him intelligently in to the path of Seri who is advancing centrally.
Seri takes a touch to steady himself and despite the defender for Nantes trying to close him down he finishes with power past the goalkeeper on his right foot.
A different type of goal from Seri this time and finished on his left foot and not his right.
As the play develops the key in the first instance is that Sari has again found himself in a large pocket of space.
As the ball comes to him initially he flicks the ball behind him to a teammate before crucially continuing his run in to the centre of the final third. The ball is quickly worked across to the wide player who in turn drives back infield before reversing a through ball through the defensive line to Seri who had continued his run in to the penalty area.
Seri is then able to finish past the keeper comfortably.
Jean Michael Seri has the potential to be a valuable addition to a Champions League side with his ability to play across the midfield and in the deeper or advanced areas.
There is always a risk attached to a big club signing a player from a tier below given that the player will not have been exposed to the pressure of playing in a big club environment but it is telling that Seri has coped at each level so far in his career.
The ability to read the game and choose the correct option when passing the ball should translate to any level as footballing intelligence is a valuable commodity in the domestic game. Whilst Seri may not come cheap the buying club with acquire a player around which they can build their midfield for years to come.