Why Ligue 1 footballers can’t resist the lure of England

With just under a month to go until the transfer window closes shut, there’s already an influx of players from across the channel in England. Although that’s nothing new, this transfer season is seeing a full-on French infusion from top to bottom of the Premier League.

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Since the dawn of time, or perhaps around 2001 to be more accurate, English teams have been eager to nip across the channel tunnel to sign France’s best and brightest. From Fabien Barthez joining Manchester United to Michael Essien at Chelsea and Newcastle United’s raid of Ligue 1 with Alan Pardew in charge, and everyone else in between, it’s deemed difficult for French teams to hold on to their talented performers.

But something different has happened this summer: the exodus from L’Hexagon to the Premier League has accelerated. In the past there was an understanding that players would move on for bigger projects and European football. Now, as Aston Villa, Leicester City and West Ham United have shown, the new £5billion TV deal has changed the landscape.

After the turn of the millennium, Joseph-Desire Job joined Middlesbrough for £3million, that fee is now akin to the £7m AFC Bournemouth have spent to bring Max-Alain Gradel back to Dean Court.

There is nothing the Ligue 1 teams can do to compete financially with their English neighbours. Jordan Amavi and Idrissa Gueye were able to triple their wages with a move to Birmingham under Tim Sherwood, and that will be a similar case with any future players poached from French clubs.

Even Dimitri Payet, who was easily one of the best players in the league last season and had the chance to play in the Europa League group stage with Marseille, decided his future lay at West Ham United with Slaven Bilic; only for the Londoners to be knocked out in the qualifying round of the same competition.

When it comes to France’s biggest stars, players like Edinson Cavani, Alexandre Lacazette and Anthony Martial remain with PSG, Lyon and Monaco respectively due to the nature of the fee they would command and the instant expectations they would have to face. There is little doubt they will move at some stage in the near future, but it will be on a bigger scale than the middle table clubs can afford.

Aston Villa have spent well. Jordan Veretout, Jordan Ayew, Amavi and Gueye all have potential to improve – some more than others. Used correctly and in the right, positive environment, a fantastic left-back like Amavi could go on to make 50 caps for France. It was no surprise to see a Premier League club target Ligue 1 so heavily, but signing three players called Jordan is an intriguing strategy. Katie Price awaits her invitation to Bodymoor Heath.

In N’Golo Kante, Claudio Ranieri has bought Leicester City a tough-tackling, energetic player that will push the midfield forward for 90 minutes. Swansea have strengthened well with Andre Ayew and Franck Tabanou. Both will play down the left side and they have all the attributes you need to succeed – especially Ayew, the elder of the two brothers.

Yohan Cabaye has reunited with Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park. Although he scored a 90th-minute goal against Norwich City on the opening day of the season, it remains to be seen if the former Newcastle boss can help the midfielder recover from his terrible spell in Paris.

You also have Divock Origi trying to make his mark at Liverpool after a loan spell back at Lille last season. The Belgian forward has all the raw skill to become a player that defenders will have nightmares about, but he still has a long way to go.

Throughout every current Premier League squad, there are traces of Ligue 1 to see up and down the country. It is not a new trend, it’s not going to stop anytime soon, but success for the Premier League new boys this season could see more clubs go à la française.

 

Follow @Gibney_A

Read more Andrew Gibney here!

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