Ranking every French player to appear for Man Utd in the Premier League era

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Eric Cantona is presented as a Manchester United player by Alex Ferguson. Old Trafford, November 1992.

Manchester United have been graced by a number of brilliant French players in the Premier League – although they haven’t all been success stories.

United currently have two French players in their squad and have recently been linked with Raphael Varane and Eduardo Camavinga.

We’ve ranked every French player to play for United from worst to best.

12. William Prunier

One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s strangest signings, Prunier joined United on trial in December 1995 and was immediately thrust into the first team due to an injury crisis in defence.

Despite impressing on his debut against QPR, a 4-1 defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane would end up being his second and final game for United.

The defender could have signed another short term deal at Old Trafford but presumably took insult to the offer and returned to France in January 1996.

“In the end, I played one game with the reserves, two in the Premier League, several training sessions, it was an extraordinary experience,” Prunier told French outlet So Foot in 2017. “It’s a shame that it all turned into bullshit.”

11. Gabriel Obertan

Signed in the same window that Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid, Obertan certainly had some big shoes to fill at Old Trafford.

But the winger failed to make an impact during his two years at United, scoring one goal in 28 appearances before being offloaded to Newcastle United.

10. David Bellion

Despite playing in a Sunderland team that finished bottom of the Premier League with 19 points, Bellion still did enough to earn a move to United in 2003.

He was even dubbed ‘the new Thierry Henry’ in his native France but unsurprisingly struggled to live up to those lofty expectations.

The striker scored just four goals in 24 Premier League appearances for United and was allowed to leave for Nice in 2006, having been loaned there and to West Ham during his three years on the books.

9. Morgan Schneiderlin

After moving to United in a £24million move in the summer of 2015, Schneiderlin struggled to recapture the impressive form he had shown at Southampton.

The midfielder struggled for consistency under Louis van Gaal and was almost immediately deemed surplus to requirements by Jose Mourinho.

United did at least get most of their money back by selling him to Everton for £22million in January 2017.

8. Laurent Blanc

After United controversially sold Jaap Stam to Lazio in 2001, eyebrows were raised when they signed a 35-year-old Blanc as his replacement.

The centre-back had a brilliant CV but was in the twilight of his career and subsequently struggled to fill the void left by his predecessor.

He still added some experience to the backline and helped United win the Premier League title in 2002-03 before hanging up his boots.

7. Louis Saha

After taking the Premier League by storm with Fulham, Saha caught United’s attention and completed a £12.4million move to Old Trafford in January 2004. 

The striker hit the ground running with seven goals in his first 10 starts for the club but soon became hampered by a series of injury problems. 

He still won two Premier League titles, a League Cup and the Champions League during his four and a half years at United, although fitness issues prevented him from playing a part in the European final. 

“The Champions League final was the worst moment in my life as a footballer,” Saha told the Manchester United podcast in January 2020. “The only moment I cried. So you understand what I’m saying. That was how much emotion was going through me.”

READ: Louis Saha: A brilliant striker, but never better than when at Fulham

6. Fabien Barthez

Having won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with France, Barthez was seen as the man to fill Peter Schmeichel’s shoes at Old Trafford. 

While he lifted two Premier League titles in four years at United, the goalkeeper is best remembered for his erratic behaviour and individual errors.

We still love him and the fact that he once popped up on the wing during a pre-season friendly has helped move him up this list.

READ: Remembering when Fabien Barthez played on the wing for Man Utd

5. Mikael Silvestre

One of United’s most underappreciated players, Silvestre joined the club for just £4million in 1999 and went on to make 361 appearances in all competitions during a nine-year stint at Old Trafford.

He fell down the pecking order following the signings of Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra in January 2006 and United undoubtedly chose the right moment to let him join Premier League rivals Arsenal.

4. Anthony Martial

Martial was a relatively unknown teenager when United decided to sign him from Monaco for an initial £36million on deadline day in 2015.

But the striker well and truly announced himself to the world on his debut, coming off the bench to score a sensational solo goal against Liverpool.

He has struggled to hit the heights expected of him in recent seasons but that debut goal is enough to move him into the top four.

3. Paul Pogba 

One of football’s greatest enigmas, Pogba came through the academy at United before joining Juventus in 2012 in search of regular first-team football.

Having developed into one of the best midfielders in the world, expectations were high when he returned to Old Trafford in an £86million deal in 2016.

While the France international frustrates people with his inconsistency, he has been a key player for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and is capable of providing moments of pure brilliance.

2. Patrice Evra

While Evra went on to become a United legend, things could have gone very differently after a disastrous Premier League debut in January 2006.

“My first introduction to the real Sir Alex was my debut against Manchester City,” Evra told The Guardian in August 2020.

“At half-time, he gave the hairdryer for one minute to every player. It was a long 15 minutes. At the end he says to me in five seconds, ‘Patrice, sit down. You will learn how to play in England.’

“That night my agent said, ‘We made the biggest mistake coming here. I’m sorry.’ I was upset but I was burning.”

READ: How Patrice Evra succeeded Gary Neville as Man Utd’s hated hero

1. Eric Cantona

There was only ever going to be one winner.

After joining United from Leeds in 1992, Cantona proved the catalyst for their success and helped them to four Premier League titles and two FA Cups in five years.

The striker also scored 82 goals in 185 appearances in all competitions for United. But more importantly, he did it all in style.

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