All-time XI: The best French players to have ever played in the Premier League

With names like Thierry Henry, Patrice Evra, Claude Makélélé, and Patrick Vieira, France has regularly supplied the Premier League with unquestionable top class talent across the last thirty years

Due to the current international break, 101 Great Goals wanted to pay homage to the many foreign players that have helped build the Premier League into what it is today. We begin with France.

Few nations outside of England’s borders have been able to provide top-level talent into the ranks of the Premier League better than one of England’s historic rivals. Whether it was Manchester United’s global appeal, Arsène Wenger’s historic pull in north London or the allure of new cash veins at Manchester City or Chelsea, countless memorable moments in the top flight of English football have fallen at the feet, head, and hands of many a Gallic star.

Here are our all-time France XI players across the history of the Premier League

GK: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)

Though shouts could have been levied in the direction of Fabien Barthez, the longevity of Tottenham shot-stopper Hugo Lloris remains incredibly hard to ignore. He may not have ever won the league in his eleven seasons at the club, but for over a decade, he was one of the top keepers in the country.

RCB: Bacary Sagna (Arsenal, Manchester City)

After his star rapidly rose at Auxerre, Bacary Sagna made the jump to the Premier League with Arsenal and quickly became arguably the best right-back in England during his seven seasons in north London. An eventual move to Manchester City followed for three years, but it paled in comparison.

CB: Marcel Desailly (Chelsea)

As an Arsenal fan, I’d love to include Laurent Koscielny, but it was hard to look past French defensive legend Marcel Desailly here. Unlike many others on the list, the former AC Milan star did not accrue a wealth of honors while with Chelsea, but his mastery of the art of defense was superb nonetheless.

LCB: Patrice Evra (Manchester United, West Ham United)

A player who helped define, and redefine, a position by himself, Patrice Evra not only will go down as one of the best French players in league history but one of the top men across the league’s entirety irrespective of nationality. A sublime player; Evra spent nine immensely successful seasons with Manchester United before closing out his career with West Ham after a brief return.

DM: Claude Makélélé (Chelsea)

Like the aforementioned Evra, Claude Makélélé's influence on football in England was immeasurable. His arrival at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2003 from Real Madrid was directly connected to the Blues’ increase in prominence that remains today. Though he only spent five seasons in London, he is forever adored in the capital.

RM: David Ginola (Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa)

Perhaps not a name that many fans will have remembered, or considered, David Ginola arrived in England on Tyneside as a 28-year-old and played an integral part in one of Newcastle’s best-ever seasons. He eventually had stints with Tottenham and Aston Villa, with his sublime technical qualities apparent all along the way.

CM: N’Golo Kanté (Leicester City, Chelsea)

Viewed as the second coming of Makéléle but certainly did not have a reputation that preceded him, N’Golo Kanté was integral in Leicester City’s magical run to Premier League honors before moving to Chelsea while becoming one of the most decorated Blues in club history on account of his collection of continental winners medals.

CM: Patrick Vieira (Arsenal, Manchester City)

Though so many will have wished Patrick Vieira could hold the title of “one club man,” the legendary French midfielder was at the very core of the Gunners’ high-water mark during the Premier League era, which included their run to becoming invincible in the league. Only one other player defined the club in the last three decades more than him, and you know exactly who that is.

LM: Robert Pires (Arsenal, Aston Villa)

To think of Arsenal in its pomp, one cannot forget the goalscoring prowess and creative stylings of former French international winger Robert Pires. The likes of Henry, Vieira, and even Bergkamp, hold massive sway inside the fanbase, but the club’s success on the domestic front was never achievable without the inside winger.

RF: Eric Cantona (Leeds United, Manchester United)

Other options the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Olivier Giroud could very easily have been considered here, and though Cantona’s period at Manchester United only lasted five seasons in the wake of a two-year spell at Leeds United, his arrival at Old Trafford was followed by iconic moments, brilliant goals, and a player who changed the landscape of football in England.

LF: Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

When a player rises to become the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, they were always going to be a shoo-in for our top ten list. Thierry Henry is widely considered Arsenal’s best-ever player during the Premier League era, and his 175 league goals are likely to never be beaten; at least for not some time. After all, it’s not every day that you have a statue erected in your honor.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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