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Thursday 29 May 2014

Around the World: France and the Barclays Premier League

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup a look at the French influence on the BPL

We look at la creme de la creme of French players who have graced the Barclays Premier League

Ahead of the FIFA 2014 World Cup, which starts on 12 June, looks at the 31 nations outside of England who are competing in Brazil and their influence on the Barclays Premier League.

France have competed in the World Cup finals on 13 occasions and hosted the tournament twice, winning the 1998 edition on home soil after missing out twice at the semi-final stage during the 1980s. Les Bleus came close again in 2006, only to lose in the final to Italy on penalties, while four years ago they exited at the group stage. In Brazil they take on Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras in Group E.

Nine current Barclays Premier League players have been included in Didier Deschamps' 23-man World Cup squad, with three each from the 2013/14 squads of Newcastle United and Arsenal. The Magpies are represented by full-back Mathieu Debuchy, midfielder Moussa Sissoko and striker Loic Remy, whose season-long loan from Queens Park Rangers ended, while the Arsenal defensive pairing of Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny will be in Brazil along with striker Olivier Giroud. Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra and Liverpool centre-back Mamadou Sakho complete France’s Barclays Premier League contingent.  

Eric Cantona was the first Frenchman both to appear and score in the Barclays Premier League, the season after having helped Leeds United win the old First Division championship. Indeed the forward, who had marked the start of the season with a hat-trick for Leeds in the Charity Shield, also became the first player of any nationality to score a treble in a Barclays Premier League match, in the west Yorkshire side’s 5-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

After England and Scotland France have produced the most players to have appeared in the competition, with 175 players making 11,102 Barclays Premier League appearances up to and including the 2013/14 season. Frenchman have scored the most BPL goals after Englishmen, with a tally of 1,284 strikes.

Distin distinction

Everton defender Sylvain Distin is the Frenchman leading the way with the most appearances in the Barclays Premier League – 444 with Manchester City, Portsmouth and Everton. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry is the standout leading scorer from France with 175 Barclays Premier League goals in his two stints with the north Londoners. The two-time title and four-time Barclays Golden Boot winner is third on the all-time scorers' list behind Alan Shearer and Andy Cole but boasts the most goals by a player for a single club in the Barclays Premier League.

Five Frenchman have managed a Barclays Premier League club, the first being Arsene Wenger, who took over at Arsenal in October 1996 and has remained there ever since. The longest-serving manager in the English top flight became the first individual from overseas to lead a club to the Barclays Premier League title, a feat he has achieved twice since. He has taken charge of 676 Barclays Premier League matches and been responsible for bringing many of the most successful French players to the BPL, including six of France's top-11 scorers (see table below).

During his time in England Wenger has seen four compatriots come and go from rival managerial positions, including Gerard Houllier, who won an FA Cup, two League Cups, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup during his two spells as Liverpool manager. Jean Tigana also had a three-season spell at Fulham while Alain Perrin and Jacques Santini lasted just seven and five months respectively at Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur.

Frenchmen in Barclays Premier League
Total players in BPL history 175
Total BPL appearances 11,102
Total BPL goals 1,284
Total BPL managers 5
Total BPL matches managed 1,027

First Frenchman to play in the Barclays Premier League
Eric Cantona
- Leeds United (v Wimbledon, 15 August, 1992)

Top 10 BPL appearances by Frenchmen
Sylvain Distin
Nicolas Anelka
Steed Malbranque
William Gallas
Patrick Vieira
Louis Saha
Mikael Silvestre
Patrice Evra
Gael Clichy
Thierry Henry

First Frenchman to score in the Barclays Premier League
Eric Cantona -
Leeds (v Middlesbrough, 22 August, 1992)

Top 11 French goalscorers in BPL
Thierry Henry
Nicolas Anelka
Louis Saha
Eric Cantona
Robert Pires
Steed Malbranque
Florent Malouda
Samir Nasri
Djibril Cisse
Patrick Vieira/Sylvain Wiltord

France 23-man FIFA World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Mickael Landreau (Bastia), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Lucas Digne (Paris Saint-Germain), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Bacary Sagna (both Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Clement Grenier (Lyon), Yohan Cabaye, Blaise Matuidi (both Paris Saint-Germain), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loic Remy (Loaned to Newcastle United by Queens Park Rangers), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich).

  • Eric Cantona was the first Frenchman to play in the Barclays Premier League, with Leeds

  • Everton's Sylvain Distin is the Frenchman to have played the most BPL matches

  • Arsene Wenger was the first of five Frenchmen to have managed in the BPL

  • With 175 BPL goals Thierry Henry has scored more than any of his compatriots

  • Arsenal's Olivier Giroud scored the most goals of any Frenchman last season with 16 goals

  • Newcastle's Mathieu Debuchy is one of nine BPL players in France's World Cup squad

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Key Points

  • Ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup we look at the influence of players from 31 participating nations outside England on the BPL
  • Next in series looks at players and managers from France in the Barclays Premier League
  • Sylvain Distin is the Frenchman with the most appearances, while Thierry Henry is the top scorer