3 Clubs Abroad with Strongest French Presences
Ligue 1 continues to export top talent across world football and, although Spain has dominated the international picture in recent years, there are still a number of clubs in Europe with strong French presences in their set-up. Bleacher Report takes a look at three of the biggest.
Although Arsenal do not possess as many French players as they did in the early part of the 2000s, there can be no denying that the Gunners still have a heavy French presence at the Emirates Stadium.
Olivier Giroud enjoyed an impressive first season with the club after joining from Montpellier, while Bacary Sagna—despite struggling with injury—remains one of the better right-backs in the Premier League.
Gervinho developed his still very much unrefined talent at Lille, while centre-back Laurent Koscielny, who has gone from strength to strength since joining the club, learned his craft at Lorient.
At the head of it all is club legend Arsene Wenger, who since taking up the role of manager in 1996, has led the North London club to seven major trophies and has ensured that they remain a major force in English football.
What defines a big presence? Is it the sheer number of players from a country, or is it the quality and stature of players from that nation that you possess? If it is the latter, then Real Madrid can certainly be considered to have a sizeable French presence at the Bernabeu.
Los Blancos are often led up front by former Lyon striker Karim Benzema, who, despite performing poorly for France in recent times, continues to find the net consistently for Real.
Benzema scored 16 times in all competitions for Madrid last season, and yet his contribution was overshadowed by compatriot Raphael Varane.
Varane, the 20-year-old defender, has established himself as a regular in the starting lineup, and impressed a number of observers with his performances, particularly in the Copa del Rey against Barcelona and in the Champions League against Manchester United.
Real's campaign may have been one of failure last term, but there can be no doubt that with Varane at the back and Benzema in front of goal, they have a French spine capable of challenging for honors next season.
In terms of sheer numbers, then Newcastle United have arguably the biggest French presence outside of Ligue 1 in world football.
As many as 10 French players can all claim to be in the first-team squad at St. James' Park, with a number of Gallic talents well ensconced in the reserve and academy ranks.
France internationals Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa are all an integral part of the Newcastle set-up, while the extremely talented Hatem Ben Arfa often provides the flair for the Magpies.
Newcastle's policy of buying French led to a fifth-placed finish in 2011-12, but they narrowly avoided relegation last term following a season of unrest.
There can be no denying that Newcastle possess the quality to finish in the top half of the Premier League, but following the uproar created by Joe Kinnear's appointment as director of football, it remains to be seen how many of their French recruits will be on Tyneside at the start of the new season.
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