French footballers represent the highest foreign contingent in Premier League history. No other nation has had more players in England like the European nation. Well over 150 French players have played in the Premier League with 29 of them playing for Arsenal alone. Another interesting fact is that they have had legendary players across different playing positions. You think left-back then Patrice Evra comes to mind, you think striker and it will be a joke to overlook the great Thierry Henry.
A cherry on the cake when considering French footballers in the Premier League is that they are highly successful. The best of them won trophies in bucket loads. The likes of Pires, Vieira, and Henry were even part of Arsenal’s great invincible team. With a host of them having featured in the EPL, we have taken the difficult task to rank the best of them in a countdown. Don’t get mad at us if your favorite player is not on our list. These guys were just too good for us to ignore.
#10. N’ Golo Kante
Kante’s journey in England has been a fairytale. The defensive midfielder was signed from Caen for a very small fee by Leicester City in 2015. By the end of the 2015/2016 season, Kante had established himself the best holding midfield player. He also led Leicester to an unlikely EPL triumph with a 5000/1 odds at the beginning of the season. He has since moved to Chelsea where he won the Premier League again in 2016/2017. He has also won the FA Cup and Europa League with the blues. All of these in five years.
#9. Patrice Evra
Evra had become a proven left-back before he joined Manchester United from Monaco in 2006. He had even played in a UEFA Champions League final so United signing him was a no-brainer. Evra spent 8 years at Old Trafford as United’s first choice in the left-back position and won every trophy available domestically except the FA Cup. Evra has five (yeah you read right) Premier League winners medal to his name and is one of the best French footballers to play in the EPL.
#8. Emmanuel Petit
Petit is one of the 29 French footballers who have played for Arsenal in the Premier League. Like Evra, he also moved to England from Monaco in 1997 and played for the North London Club till 2000. He returned to England with Chelsea in 2001 after a year with Barcelona. At Arsenal, he formed a formidable holding midfield partnership with Vieira which helped Arsenal to a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season. A recurring knee injury blighted the end of his Premier League career with Chelsea with whom he retired in 2004.
#7. Claude Makelele
Chelsea have had their own fair share of talented French footballers. One of them is the defensive midfield maestro named Makelele. He was signed from Real Madrid in 2003 and the reason they signed him was obvious. Makelele was always literally sitting in front of the defense. Unlike defensive midfielders who venture into attack these days, Makelele was the embodiment of what a holding midfield player should be- stay in front of the back four, snuff out threats. He left Chelsea in 2008 having won six trophies including two Premier League titles.
#6. Robert Pires
Pires is an Arsenal legend and was part of the 2003/2004 invincible side. He was signed from Marseille in 1998 and he played predominantly as a winger for the Gunners till 2006. He scored 62 league goals for Arsenal which included a lot of worldies especially that sweet lob against Southampton in 2002/2003. He left Arsenal winning two Premier League titles and two FA Cups.
#5. Marcel Desailly
Desailly is one of the numerous French footballers with African roots. The powerful central defender was born in Accra, Ghana but began his football journey with Nantes in French Ligue 1. His solidity at the back soon saw him play for Marseille and A.C. Milan before joining Chelsea in 1998. He formed a strong bond with fellow Frenchman Frank Leboeuf and played for Chelsea till 2004. The Blues were no Premier League contenders in his time but he did win one FA Cup and one community shield. He also captained the side.
#4. David Ginola
Talk about an artist with the ball. Ginola was a winger cum midfielder. His style of play lacked nothing. He had the guile, the eye for a pass and can score goals too. He was signed by Newcastle in 1995 and went to play in England till his retirement in 2002. He starred for Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, and Everton as well. His time in England was not without success as he won the now defunct UEFA Intertoto Cup with Aston Villa and the League Cup with Spurs.
#3. Patrick Vieira
So we are at the top three players as Vieira ranks third on our list of French footballers. He was signed from A.C. Milan as a young player in 1996 and played for Arsenal till 2005. The rest they say is history. He formed a watertight partnership with Emannuel Petit which led Arsenal to the double in 1997/1998. He also captained the North London team to an unbeaten Premier League winning season in 2003/2004. And how can we forget his bitter rivalry with Manchester United’s Roy Keane in the glory days? Vieira retired with Manchester City in 2011.
#2. Eric Cantona
Cantona had a quiet career until he joined Manchester United from Leeds United in 1992. Five years did he spend at Old Trafford and went on to be an important player for Alex Ferguson. He even captained the Red Devils at some point and was also banned for assault on a fan at some point. He won four successive PL titles with Manchester United scoring 64 Premier League goals before retiring with them in 1997.
#1. Thierry Henry
And the king of all French footballers to ever play in the Premier League is the one and only Thierry Henry. His signing by Wenger in 1999 was somewhat a gamble as he has never been prolific before then. 8 years later, he had played over 250 PL games for the gunners and had become their record goalscorer. His performance in the 2003/2004 unbeaten season was majestic. Henry scored 30 goals and assisted 6 that season meaning he was involved in 36 of Arsenal’s 73 goals that season. He won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups as an Arsenal player and currently manages Montreal Impact in the U.S.
Tags: French footballers