Who would have bet on this at the start of the season?
In a league boasting strikers like Kylian Mbappe, Memphis Depay, Wissam Ben Yedder and Neymar, Boulaye Dia has managed to climb to the top of the Ligue 1 goalscoring charts. It seems even he can’t believe it. "If I had been told I was going to score 12 goals by mid-season…" Dia mused to RMC earlier in January.
It might be a surprise to find him on the top step of the goalscoring podium this season, but it’s not a surprise to see him perform. Dia proved last season that he ranked among what we could call ‘the good strikers of Ligue 1’. Lively, intelligent movement and possessing a good finish, Dia had a skillset that was well above average.
This season, the striker had the opportunity to confirm his status. But he’s done far better. "I wanted to confirm my last season. I wanted to be good, to have good performances and to continue my momentum," explained Dia on RMC. "I was ready to score, but not as much. I’m not surprised… but still!"
It is not only his game that has progressed. There are also the statistics. This season, only three players have managed to score two or more goals in three different games in Ligue 1: Mbappe, Karl Toko-Ekambi and Dia. Above all, the striker has nine away goals in the league – no one in Europe has more (Cristiano Ronaldo and Jamie Vardy are tied on nine).
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An inevitable sale?
Inevitably, such performances arouse the curiosity of other clubs. In France, Marseille made first contact last summer. But they did not go any further.
"Marseille would have been an interesting project," Dia admitted on RMC. Given his performances and Marseille’s offensive shortcomings, there will already be regrets in southern France.
Given that the French league may have already missed their chance, it is in England that the Senegalese international could turn. In recent days, as revealed by Eurosport’s Inside Football, discussions with West Ham have accelerated. Dean Jones reported that West Ham are lining up an offer which could reach £15 million.
Today, the chance of Dia continuing in Ligue 1 is low. Reims are, like many French clubs, in a delicate financial situation and need liquidity. Le Monde newspaper claims that Jean-Pierre Caillot, club president, needs 10 million euros in the bank to pay his players’ salaries until next June.
The very likely sale of Dia appears as a boon to Reims, but not for Ligue 1, who look set to lose their revelation of the season as early as January.