The Premier League is blessed with a wide variety of talent from nations all across the globe. Despite an emphasis on producing home-grown talent, some of the best players in the league are exports from Europe or South America. France has produced some wonderful players since the Premier League was formed, some who are arguably the best ever.
192 players from France have graced the green grasses of England and along with the success stories, there have been some players who have been unable to adjust to life in the Premier League. Today, there is a strong French presence in the league with the likes of Dimitri Payet, N’Golo Kante and Anthony Martial impressing for their respective clubs this season.
We take a look at the best French XI to have played in the Premier League…
Formation – 4-3-3
Goalkeeper – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Hugo Lloris has developed into one of the league’s best goalkeepers since his move from Lyon. The France international was signed by Spurs in 2012 for just under £10m with another £5m in add-on related payments. Lloris made a good start to life in London and established himself as a key player for the Lilywhites. The 29-year-old was linked with a move to Monaco in the past but signed a five-year-contract extension in 2014 and was made permanent captain of the side by Mauricio Pochettino at the start of the season. Lloris has kept 13 clean sheets this season and remains in the race for the Golden Gloves.
Right-Back – Bacary Sagna (Manchester City, Arsenal)
Former Arsenal defender, Bacary Sagna, has been a consistent performer at right-back during his time in England. Arsene Wenger brought the 33-year-old to London in a £7m move and once described him as the ‘best right-back in the Premier League’. After numerous nominations in the PFA Team of the Year, he moved to Manchester City on a free transfer and lifted the Capital One Cup in 2016. The former Auxerre defender has collected 55 caps for France after making his debut against Slovakia.
Centre-Back – Marcel Desailly (Chelsea)
Marcel Desailly arrived at Chelsea in 1998 for £4.6m from AC Milan after establishing himself as one of the world’s best centre-backs. The Frenchman became the first ever player to lift two consecutive European Cups with both Marseille and the Italian giants. The 47-year-old captained the side on arrival and lifted the FA Cup during his spell with the Blues which ended in 2004 when he moved to Qatar.
Centre-Back – Laurent Blanc (Manchester United)
‘Le Président’, Laurent Blanc, spend the last years on his illustrious career in England with Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson finally lured the Frenchman to Old Trafford where he endured a difficult start to life in the Premier League. The World Cup winner did enjoy success during his time with the Red Devils adding a Premier League crown to his trophy cabinet before retiring. Blanc is now the manager of Paris St Germain.
Left-Back – Patrice Evra (Manchester United)
Fergie also managed to prise left-back, Patrice Evra, from Monaco when he completed a £5.5m move to Manchester United. Evra was one of Ferguson’s most consistent performers during a trophy-laden spell with the club. He was described by his manager as one of the best left-backs in the world and ended an eight-year association with the club to join Juventus in 2014.
Centre Midfield – Patrick Vieira (Arsenal, Manchester City)
Currently working as head coach of New York City FC, Patrick Vieira is widely regarded as one of the most midfielders of the Premier League era. Arriving at Arsenal for £3.5m, the World Cup winner soon became captain of the Gunners under Wenger and oversaw some of the club’s most successful years. He was also part of the ‘Invincibles’ who managed to go an entire season undefeated. After lifting three Premier League titles, he moved to Italy having spells with Juventus and Inter Milan before ending his playing career for Manchester City.
Centre Midfield – David Ginola (Newcastle, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton)
David Ginola was regarded by Dutch legend, Johan Cruyff, as the best player in the world in 1999. He was renowned for his magical touch on the ball during spells with five different Premier League clubs. Wearing his iconic number 14 shirt, Ginola impressed at every club both on and off the pitch. The 49-year-old attempted to gain the FIFA presidency last year but ultimately withdrew from the race following a lack of support.
Centre Midfield – Claude Makelele (Chelsea)
Defensive midfielder, Claude Makelele, was so good at shielding Chelsea’s defence, there was is a role named after him. Makelele intelligence and reading of the game were exceptional following his move from Real Madrid. He lifted many trophies during his time at Stamford Bridge including two Premier League crowns and one FA Cup. Following five years in England, Makelele moved to PSG to end his career in his home nation.
Forward – Robert Pires (Arsenal, Aston Villa)
Robert Pires will be remembered as one of the best wingers to have graced the Premier League. The Gunners beat off stiff competition from the likes of Real Madrid to secure the midfielder’s signature. Shortly after joining the club, he lifted the Premier League title and was named Arsenal’s player of the season. Pires was another player who was instrumental in Arsenal’s unbeaten season in 2004. The former Metz winger was also involved in one the most bizarre penalty incidents with team-mate Thierry Henry. He was voted as Arsenal’s sixth best player of all-time by fans in 2008.
Forward – Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
Many would argue that ‘The King’ is the greatest player to ever play in the Premier League. Henry was one of the most prolific strikers in the world and netted 175 Premier League goals during his time with Arsenal. The Frenchman netted some truly magnificent strikes and led the Gunners to numerous trophies thanks to his goal-scoring exploits. Henry also provided 77 assists for his team-mates and even scored when returning to the club on loan from the New York Red Bulls. He now works as a pundit for Sky Sports.
Forward – Eric Cantona (Leeds United, Manchester United)
£1.2m. That’s how much Manchester United paid Leeds in order to acquire the services of Eric Cantona. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, Cantona was one of the best forwards the Premier League has ever seen, despite all of his controversies. His goals at Old Trafford were unfortunately marred by an incident against Crystal Palace were he infamously ‘kung-fu’ kicked a fan which lead to an eight-month ban. Nevertheless, Cantona lifted four Premier League titles and two FA Cups in the red shirt of United.
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