It’s five years since Lille caused a surprise in France by winning the Ligue 1 title and the Coupe de France.
Les Dogues had shown glimpses of promise in previous years - they finished fifth in 2008-09 and fourth one season later - and a team led by Moussa Sow stormed to the title in 2010-11.
Lille haven’t come close to matching those feats since. They finished third in 2011-12 and 2013-14, but this season has been difficult to say the least.
On November 22, Lille sacked manager Frederic Antonetti exactly one year after appointing him. The French outfit were second-bottom in Ligue 1 and in a seriously precarious position.
Antonetti's assistant Patrick Collot became the club’s caretaker manager and he’s lifted them to 12th in the table, winning three of his seven games in charge.
But it’s highly unlikely Lille will be playing in Europe in 2017-18.
Lille have been forced to say goodbye to a number of their best players in recent years, hurting their ability to become a force to be reckoned with.
With inspiration from Squawka, GiveMeSport has a look at a what Lille’s team might look like if they hadn’t sold anyone.
GK | Vincent Enyeama | Lille
Enyeama had huge boots to fill following Mikael Landreau’s departure in 2012, but he’s certainly stepped up to the plate.
During the 2013-14 season, Enyeama kept 11 consecutive clean sheets in Ligue 1.
RB | Stephan Lichtsteiner | Juventus
Lichtsteiner left State Pierre-Mauroy eight years ago and he’s enjoyed a fine career in Italy. The Switzerland international won the Coppa Italia with Lazio and helped Juventus to five consecutive Serie A titles, a streak that is still ongoing.
CB | Adil Rami | Sevilla
Rami left Lille for Valencia, where he played for three seasons before joining AC Milan. Add Sevilla’s name to his list of clubs and that’s a pretty impressive CV.
CB | Simon Kjaer | Fenerbahce
Kjaer probably hasn’t had as impressive a career some might have expected when he was named Danish Player Of The Year for 2009 as a 20-year-old, but he’s certainly not doing too badly.
The centre-back probably isn't the most popular figure among Manchester United fans after he branded Zlatan Ibrahimovic “arrogant” after they had a run-in in the Europa League.
LB | Lucas Digne | Barcelona
Digne made a name for himself at Lille, progressing through their academy to the first team, before joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2013.
Barcelona paid PSG £13.8m for the Frenchman in July and he’s since gone on to make 12 appearances for the Spanish giants.
CM | Yohan Cabaye | Crystal Palace
Cabaye joined Lille’s academy in 1998 and went on to enjoy seven years in the first team.
Since departing in 2011, the midfielder has played for Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain and current club Palace.
CM | Idrissa Gueye | Everton
There was no way Gueye was going to play in the Championship following Aston Villa’s relegation in 2015-16.
Everton signed him and he’s gone on to play 17 out of 18 Premier League games this season.
RW | Sofiane Boufal | Southampton
Southampton broke their transfer record to sign Boufal from Lille in the summer, spending £16m on the Moroccan.
The Saints were clearly impressed by his 124 take ons last season, the sixth-highest number of any player in Europe’s top five leagues (via Squawka).
CAM | Dimitri Payet | West Ham
Considering Payet’s brilliance for West Ham, it’s a mystery why it took so long for him to be recognised.
The Frenchman scored 19 goals and recorded 30 assists in 95 appearances for Lille, form that prompted a move to Marseille and eventually to the Hammers.
West Ham will do well to keep hold of the 29-year-old for another year. He’s definitely good enough to play in the Champions League.
LW | Eden Hazard | Chelsea
In 2012, Chelsea paid £32m for Hazard when he was a 21-year-old, and they’ve been rewarded significantly.
The Belgian has developed into one of the best talents in Europe, winning the PFA Player of the Year award for his spectacular efforts in 2014-15.
After struggling last term, Hazard is back to his best under Antonio Conte and don’t be surprised if rumours of a move to Real Madrid resurface next summer.
ST | Divock Origi | Liverpool
Origi gets in this team ahead of Moussa Sow, who scored 25 goals for Lille in the title-winning campaign of 2010-11, due to his potential.
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to choose Origi, 21, over Daniel Sturridge shows just how highly the Belgian is rated on Merseyside. He’s impressed with seven goals this season.
How much is Eden Hazard worth today? Let us know in the comments section below!
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