We all know that the caliber of French players in the premier league is growing and their ability is outstanding. The national team has gone on to achieve great things such as winning the World Cup and European Championships.
The French national team in World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000 consisted of over 10 players in England’s top league and it’s just gone from strength to strength.
Some exceptional players have come from across the channel to play in the premier league, some showing phenomenal talent.
In the 1992/93 season, it was the arrival of Eric Cantona for Leeds United that started the abundance of French players.
The arrival of Arsene Wenger four years later not just changed the culture of football but enhanced the French rebellion.
French players in the premier league have made a significant impact on the game, not just here but all over Europe.
5 Best French Players in Premier League history
Over the years there have been so many to choose from, here are my top five that have graced the premier league.
1. Eric Cantona
One of the greatest players of his generation, his arrival at Leeds Utd in 1992 started his dominance in the game, his move to Manchester United where he saw out the rest of his career. He made them a dominant force in English football in the 1990s and became a legend at the club.
Cantona was a character at times. His kung-fu kick towards a fan is the most notable, and his comeback game against Liverpool in 1995 in a 2-2 draw where he set one up and scored a penalty.
2. Theirry Henry
Henry’s arrival in 1999 at Arsenal made him a prolific goal scorer and is currently their all-time leading scorer with 228 goals.
The Frenchman’s ability to adapt to the English game was just out of this world having played on the wing at his previous club and then switching to a striker, is just mesmerizing.
Henry won two league titles with one of them being part of the unbeaten invincibles and is a legend in north London.
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3. Patrick Vieira
Viera is undoubtedly the best midfielder in French football and one of many in premier league history. He dominated the midfield with his style of play and aggression that made him captain at Arsenal bringing them success, his attitude was not to be messed with.
Again he was part of the invincibles winning three league titles and four FA Cups.
4. Nicholas Anelka
An absolute bargain at £500,000 in 1997 eventually being sold for 22.3 million in 1999, he was always a threat in front of goal for Arsenal. He was part of their double-winning team in 1997/98 winning the league and FA Cup against Newcastle.
Anelka also played for a number of other Premier League clubs including Liverpool, Chelsea, Bolton (at the time in PL) Manchester City, and West Bromwich Albion (at the time in PL)
5. David Ginola
Ginola was just magical to watch his touch on the ball was sublime, the way he went past players and his ability with the ball was just first-class. His partnership with the likes of Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand in the Newcastle team was just so entertaining.
His playing days at Tottenham and Aston Villa weren’t as flamboyant, but still a joy to watch with his skills.
The French Crop now
The French players now in the premier league are nowhere near as good as the golden generation back then.
You don’t have a box-to-box midfielder, a general who commands the team like Patrick Viera, a man upfront who bullies the midfield, who frightens the defence like Eric ‘King’ Cantona, strikers who tear up defenses, run rings around them like Theirry Henry and Nicolas Anelka.
The likes of Antony Martial at Manchester United, William Saliba of Arsenal, Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle, Wesley Fofana of Chelsea the list goes on.
They have a lot to achieve the greatness of the ‘Les Bleus’ generation.
A total of 207 French players have graced the premier league and I’m sure there are many more to come.
Eric Cantona was the first in the 1992/93 season when the Premier league was formed.
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