French import XI: Premier League’s greatest Les Bleus stars
Crystal Palace recently pulled off what could turn out to be one of signings of the season with the capturing of former Newcastle United and PSG midfielder Yohan Cabaye, having completed a club-record fee switch.
Following such a massive transfer coup for Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park for the Eagles (15/8 for top 10 finish), here at Coral, we have put our heads together and come up with an all-time French import starting line-up.
Do you agree with our selections?
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris
Having arrived in the Premier League for a reported €10m in 2012, France’s current international number one stopper has become a truly great goalkeeper for club and country (4/1 to win Euro 2016).
The talented Tottenham shot stopper’s performances in the past three seasons have warranted speculation linking him with a move to Old Trafford, where he could soon be a replacement for a possibly departing David de Gea.
Right back: Bacary Sagna
Despite faltering towards the end of his career at Manchester City, during his early days at the Etihad, and especially at Arsenal, Sagna was an all-round top full back.
Centre back: Marcel Desailly
One of the greatest defenders of all-time, and a key aspect of both Chelsea’s rise to prominence and the nurturing of its current skipper John Terry.
Desailly was a gifted centre back who could do everything in the heart of defence, with astute aerial abilities, a great tackler and was a dominant presence at all times.
Centre back: Laurent Blanc
Now the manager of French champions PSG, Blanc was a stern defender for Manchester United during three impressive campaigns, which included a top-flight title triumph in 2003.
Left back: Patrice Evra
Another former Red Devils star, this time in the form of the fantastic full back Evra. The current Juventus left back cemented his position as United’s key full back during eight trophy-laden years.
After making a stuttering start under Sir Alex Ferguson, Evra went on to help United clinch five Premier League trophies, three League Cups, five Community Shields, and of course, the 2008 Champions League.
Defensive midfield: Claude Makelele
So good as an anchorman, it was renamed the ‘Makelele role’. Rising to prominence at Real Madrid, winning the Champions League and two La Liga crowns, he then arrived in England with Chelsea.
Five successful seasons then followed at Stamford Bridge, playing a pivotal part of Jose Mourinho’s back-to-back title triumphing side in 2005 and 2006.
Defensive midfield: Patrick Vieira
The driving midfield force during Arsenal’s ‘Invincible’ era, with his prowess in the centre guiding Arsene Wenger’s men to four FA Cup victories and three league crowns.
Later, he possibly tarnished his legacy in London with a single season with Manchester City, where he again lifted the FA Cup, this time in unfamiliar colours.
Right wing: David Ginola
One of the Premier League’s most gifted attackers, Ginola was the personification of French flair, with his dazzling trickery and flamboyant efforts on goal during mesmerising spells with Newcastle and Tottenham.
Later, the Frenchman joined Aston Villa and Everton, but his delightful displays for both the Toon and Spurs will always be fans’ most fond memories.
Second striker: Eric Cantona
Almost single handedly bringing success back to Old Trafford, ‘King’ Eric was the key factor in United Premier League dominance in the 1990s.
Bought from Leeds United for a mere £1m, Cantona is one of the greatest French imports to take to England, with his acrobatic goals, uplifted collar and controversial behaviour on and off the pitch.
Left wing: Robert Pires
Another Arsenal hero, Pires was magnificent with the ball at his feet, possessing a great sense of balance which struck fear into Premier League defenders for six superb seasons, later donning the claret and blue of Villa.
Striker: Thierry Henry
Handballs and questionable punditry aside, before retiring, Henry was one of the Premier League’s most deadly frontmen, second only to Alan Shearer in the all-time goalscoring charts.
So sensational were his contributions to Arsenal over an initial eight seasons, followed by a brief loan spell in 2012, that a statue of the France striker was erected outside the Emirates.