En route to winning the Ligue 1 title last season Monaco were Europe's most entertaining side but their chances of retaining their crown are slim heading into 2017-18.

The new Ligue 1 season kicks-off this weekend and Monaco's ranking as a distant second-best to PSG in the ante-post betting market - Monaco are 6.00 to win the title - makes total sense when you look at the club's transfer activity over the past two months.

Three members of Leonardo Jardim's ideal line-up - Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Bernardo Silva - have departed for new pastures, while three others - Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and £160 million rated Kylian Mbappe - remain firmly in the sights of richer rivals abroad.

To replenish their side, Monaco have bought players with potential rather than ready-made replacements. This long-term succession planning has proved successful in recent years but deals a significant blow to their hopes of retaining top spot.

Title heading to Paris but Marseille can break top three

Given the situation with Monaco, it's no surprise PSG are runaway title favourites at 1.25. Unai Emery's side are stronger than last season thanks to signing Dani Alves, and if Neymar completes his world-record transfer from Barcelona the game's surely over for their rivals. The Brazilian superstar's apparently imminent arrival means PSG's current price of 1.25 may be as short as they trade all season.

The stand-out contenders in the Top 3 market are Marseille (2.20). They finished fifth last season and were fourth based on results after Rudi Garcia became manager. They look stronger thanks to the arrival of Adil Rami, Luiz Gustavo and ex-Monaco striker Valere Germain and the club is more professional on all levels than it's been for years. When the Top 3 market has liquidity Marseille will be available at around 2.20, which is worth taking.

Weakened Lyon and Nice offer top three opportunities for others

Lyon (2.50 in the Top 3 Finish market) and Nice (4.10) are both weaker. Lyon (4th last season) have sold Corentin Tolisso and Alexandre Lacazette, while Nice (3rd last season) have lost right-back Ricardo Pereira, centre-back Paul Baysse, playmaker Younes Belhanda and are fighting to stop others bidding farewell.

Lyon and Nice's problems open the door for Lille to challenge for a Top 3 Finish. Les Nordistes are on the biggest spending spree in their history (£55m and counting) and will be more dynamic and enterprising under new manager Marcelo Bielsa. Another team worth watching are Rennes. Although they lack a goalscorer, their £21m outlay on exciting young wingers Ismaila Sarr (£15m from Metz) and Faitout Maouassa (£6m from Nancy) adds much-needed pace and energy on the flanks.

Ranieri's Nantes could be surprise relegation contenders

At the foot of the table there are six teams - Caen, Dijon and Metz, plus newly-promoted trio Amiens, Strasbourg and Troyes - whose only aim will be avoiding relegation. Comparing their squads and starting line-ups there's little to pick between the six, but you'd actually be better focusing your attention on Nantes instead.

Nantes finished 7th last season but could well be dragged into the relegation battle because of losing outstanding manager Sergio Conceicao to FC Porto. Successor Claudio Ranieri will struggle to inspire his players in the same way, and the club's limited transfer activity suggests a hard season ahead for the Canaries. When the Rock Bottom market has liquidity, back Nantes at big odds and look to trade out at some point.

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