- Associated Press - Thursday, August 3, 2017

PARIS (AP) - A look at Strasbourg, Amiens and Troyes as the promoted teams prepare for this weekend’s opening of the French league season.

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AMIENS

Known for its gothic cathedral, the northern city of Amiens is also the home of one of the oldest clubs in French football.

Amiens was formed in 1901 but will play its first season in the topflight after finishing runner-up behind second-tier champion Strasbourg.

In a dramatic finish to the championship, Amiens was on the verge of slipping out of contention for promotion until a stoppage-time goal from Emmanuel Bourgaud changed its destiny on the last day of the regular season.

Amiens generated a stir in the media this summer by hiring former Chelsea midfielder Gael Kakuta, who looks set for a return to France after a stint in China. Kakuta’s career has been blighted by injuries but the 26-year-old midfielder still hopes he can put his once promising career back on track. However, Kakuta’s Chinese club in Hebei contested the transfer and is currently discussing a loan deal with Amiens instead.

With an estimated budget of 22 million euros ($26 million), Amiens has very limited funds and has launched a crowd funding campaign in order to build a new stand in its stadium.

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STRASBOURG

Six years after being demoted to the fifth tier of French football, Strasbourg is back among the elite.

A mainstay of French football, the Alsace club has won the league title once as well as three French Cups and a couple of League Cup trophies.

But the club encountered serious financial problems after being relegated to the second division in 2008 and entered liquidation in 2011.

After years of instability, the club has restored a healthy financial model and gained promotion by winning the Ligue 2 title last season.

Club president Marc Keller said Strasbourg will have a budget between 28-30 million euros ($33-$35.5 million), with the club aiming to reach 40 million euros ($$7 million) within three years if it stays in the topflight.

Strasbourg has been very active on the transfer market, recruiting seven players including Saint-Etienne midfielder Benjamin Corgnet.

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TROYES

Troyes sealed its return to Ligue 1 with a 2-1 win over Lorient on aggregate in the playoffs, just one season after being demoted.

The Champagne club will be led by veteran midfielder Benjamin Nivet, who played his first match in the top flight 20 years ago.

Troyes made an interesting signing with defender Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, who was out of contract at Nantes, and strengthened its midfield by hiring Francois Bellugou from Lorient.

Troyes’ best player last season was Adama Niane, who scored 23 goals in 33 matches and delivered five assists. But the Mali international has been courted by several clubs this season and his future at Troyes remains unclear.

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More AP French soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/Ligue1


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