5 Former Ligue 1 Players Being Wasted in Foreign Leagues

Nicholas McGeeContributor IJanuary 22, 2014

5 Former Ligue 1 Players Being Wasted in Foreign Leagues

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    Ligue 1 players regularly leave for pastures new each year as they look to prove themselves in the marquee European leagues.

    Many go on to be successful and establish themselves as top European talents; however, there are more than a few players that struggle to settle in a new country.

    Some fail to adapt to a different league and lifestyle, while others are simply neglected by the managers who recruited them.

    The last two seasons have witnessed a number of these cases, with an array players who made their breakthrough in France struggling to make the grade away from Ligue 1.

    Here, I look at five ex-Ligue 1 players whose talents are being wasted away from the French top flight.

Josuha Guilavogui

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    At Saint-Etienne, Josuha Guilavogui was considered to be one of the best emerging talents in the French game, with the midfielder earning a call-up to the national side back in June.

    Guilavogui has won five caps for France, and it came as no surprise when bigger clubs began to show interest in the 23-year-old's services.

    It was Spanish side Atletico Madrid who landed his signature in September; however, Guilavogui has yet to force his way into Diego Simeone's starting XI.

    Indeed, Guilavogui has made just five appearances at Estadio Vicente Calderon, although this is perhaps understandable considering the quality present in a aide that sits level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

    Still, it is disappointing to see a player of Guilavogui's potential struggling for opportunities at Atletico, and the man who turned heads with his performances at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard last season will hope to get the chance to make an impression on Simeone in the second half of the current campaign.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

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    Many French players have enjoyed success at Newcastle United in recent years, but defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has found life at St James' Park difficult so far.

    The 24-year-old moved to Tyneside from Montpellier in January last year as Newcastle recruited heavily in an attempt to save their Premier League status.

    Alan Pardew's men narrowly avoided relegation at the end of last term; however, centre-back Yanga-Mbiwa failed to truly get to grips with the speed and physicality of the Premier League.

    The France international's performances have improved slightly this campaign, but, although Yanga-Mbiwa has produced some credible displays—including in Newcastle's 1-0 win at Tottenham in November—he still finds himself somewhat down the pecking order in the northeast of England.

    Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor have formed the central defensive pairing in the absence of injured captain Fabricio Coloccini, and Yanga-Mbiwa appears poised for a return to the bench after filling in for full-back Mathieu Debuchy during his three-match suspension, which has now come to an end.

    Coloccini's absence could prove to be a positive for Yanga-Mbiwa, but if he cannot displace either Taylor or Williamson, then the Central African Republic-born player may be best served resurrecting his career elsewhere.

Etienne Capoue

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    Etienne Capoue joined Tottenham following a 2012-13 season that saw the midfielder make progress in both the domestic and international game.

    Indeed, Capoue was superb in his final campaign with Toulouse, in which he scored seven goals and also found the net for France for the first time in a 3-1 win over Belarus during a World Cup qualifier in September 2012.

    Capoue's performances attracted the attention of Spurs, but the decision to move to the London club appears set to be an ill-fated one.

    The 25-year-old sustained a severe ankle injury in the 1-0 loss to local rivals Arsenal in September and has struggled to regain his place in the side under new manager Tim Sherwood.

    Capoue now appears keen to leave White Hart Lane, with Napoli linked with a move for his services, per the Daily Express, a switch which could save a 2013-14 season that appears to be stagnating.

Younes Belhanda

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    Younes Belhanda's move away from Montpellier in June last year came as no surprise, but the fact that the Morocco international opted to join Dynamo Kiev was somewhat of a shock.

    Belhanda, an attacking midfielder, had long been considered to be one of Montepllier's top players; therefore, a move to the top flight of Ukrainian football hardly represented a step up for the talented playmaker.

    Belhanda has adapted well to life at Dynamo, already scoring six goals; however, with the Ukrainian capital club not competing in the Champions League, it does appear that the 23-year-old is playing at a level below his considerable talents.

    Dynamo sit second behind Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian top tier and would qualify for the Champions League if the season finished today. Still, with Belhanda far from the peak of his powers, Kiev could prove to be little more than a stepping stone in his career.

Thorgan Hazard

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    Belgian attacking midfielder Thorgan Hazard's career has gone sideways since he followed in older brother Eden's footsteps by joining Chelsea.

    The 20-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge from Ligue 2 side Lens back in July 2012, but he has yet to make an appearance for the London outfit's senior side.

    Chelsea opted to loan Hazard back to his homeland, with Zulte-Waregem signing him on a two-season loan.

    It has been a move that has proved profitable for the younger Hazard, who won the Belgian Golden Shoe on Wendesday.

    But despite his success in the Belgian top flight, and an apparent desire to join Anderlecht, per Sky Sports, there can be no doubt that Hazard's abilities would undergo a greater test if he were to return to the French game.