Raphael Varane to Man Utd: Ranking every French player to appear for Red Devils

  • Tom Ward
Ranking every French player to appear for Manchester United in the Premier League era

Raphael Varane’s inevitable move to Manchester United has made him one of the most talked-about players of the transfer window.

After winning his third La Liga title and fourth Champions League trophy, Varane departs Real Madrid as an experienced and proven central defender who boasts one of the most impressive trophy cabinets of the modern era.

While United fans will have to wait and see if he will become the next Paul Pogba or another William Prunier, GIVEMESPORT has decided to rank the Red Devils’ previous 12 French signings from worst to best.  

Let’s take a look below: 

William Prunier playing for Manchester United against Queens Park Rangers

12. William Prunier

The French defender joined United in 1995 as backup for the injured Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister, but could only manage two games for the club. 

It might sound a tiny bit harsh, but he probably shouldn’t have even bothered turning up.

Manchester United's Gabriel Obertan battles for the ball with Blackburn Rovers' Ryan Nielsen

11. Gabriel Obertan

Signed for just £3m from Ligue 1 side Bordeaux, Obertan was seen as the man to replace Cristiano Ronaldo

Unfortunately a spinal injury, however, severely derailed any chances of that happening, as he was largely restricted to a few substitute appearances, before being sold to Newcastle United for £3m in 2011.

David Bellion

10. David Bellion

Not to be confused with a certain David Baddiel, Bellion had the footballing world at his feet when he moved from Sunderland to United in the summer of 2003. But after it never quite worked out for him at Old Trafford, he’s now working as creative director of Parisian club Red Star, who play in the third division of French football

Morgan Schneiderlin celebrates scoring against Everton

9. Morgan Schneiderlin

When Louis Van Gaal signed Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton, he thought he was acquiring a world-class midfielder. 

Saul Niguez DEAL DONE NEXT WEEK! Find out more on The Football Terrace…

Unfortunately, Schneiderlin struggled to replicate his St Mary’s performances in a United shirt and failed to make much of an impression before being sold to Everton for £20m in 2017.

Schneiderlin is currently plying his trade for Nice in France.

Fabien Barthez of Manchester United

8. Fabien Barthez

After a bright start, Barthez’s infamous spell at Old Trafford was characterised by a series of high-profile blunders, but that shouldn’t detract from what was otherwise an impressive debut season comfortably filling the gloves of legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel

Laurent Blanc celebrates scoring against Boavista

7. Laurent Blanc

Regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Europe following his arrival from Inter Milan, United looked to have had a bargain on their hands in Blanc, who was brought in to replace the freshly-departed Jaap Stam.  

While Blanc was arguably past his sell-by date, he turned out to be a solid albeit unspectacular signing, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were crowned Premier League champions in 2003 after fierce rivals Arsenal lost 3-2 at home to Leeds United

Anthony Martial waves to the Old Trafford crowd

6. Anthony Martial

United fans will probably disagree, but Martial has never quite lived up to the promise he showed as a youngster closely following in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Louis Saha and Eric Cantona (more on those two later). 

By no means is Martial a bad player, but he really ought to be doing an awful lot more if he wants to push himself further up the rankings. 

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How many times has Raphael Varane won the Champions League during his time at Real Madrid?

5. Mikael Silvestre

Centre-back Silvestre joined United from Inter Milan in 1999 and became a bit of a hit at Old Trafford.  

Silvestre went on to make over 350 appearances in total during his time with the Red Devils, winning the Champions League in 2008 as well as the Premier League four times. 

Louis Saha and Cristiano Ronaldo

4. Louis Saha

In terms of pure talent, Saha should probably rank even higher on this list. He had it all – strength, speed, agility. Sadly, injury severely limited his contributions to the United cause, but nevertheless he still managed to win two Premier League titles, a League Cup and the Champions League trophy before leaving for Everton in 2008. 

“My former United team-mate Louis Saha, now at Everton of course, is my toughest opponent,” said former United defender Rio Ferdinand. “He’s quick, he’s strong, he’s aggressive, he hits the ball cleanly with both feet and he’s great in the air.

“If I was building a prototype of a perfect number 9 then I’d look to Louis.”

Read more: Marcus Rashford “opened up a lot of doors”, says former Manchester United striker Louis Saha

Paul Pogba scores against Brighton

3. Paul Pogba

Villainised by Premier League fans but loved by those in the red corner of south-west Manchester, Pogba’s decision to re-join United from Juventus was quite spectacular. 

The Frenchman, who originally left Old Trafford for the Allianz Stadium after the midfielder failed to become a first-team regular at Stretford End in 2017, won the Serie A title in each of his four seasons at Juventus.

Since then, he has helped United to the League Cup, and was an integral part of Jose Mourinho‘s side that won the Europa League in 2017, but despite being offered a bumper new contract, he continues to be linked with a potential move to Paris-Saint Germain.  

Patrice Evra with a United scarf wrapped around his head

2. Patrice Evra

Evra made 273 appearances for United, scoring seven goals, and helped the club reach the 2008 Champions League final, which they went on to win in extra-time on penalties. 

The 40-year-old, who was born in Dakar, Senegal, and brought up in Les Ulis, France, is regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation. 

He left United in 2014, leaving for Juventus before retiring in 2018. 

Eric Cantona in action against Newcastle United

1. Eric Cantona

“Ooh ahh, Cantona!”

No, not the soundtrack to the Mos Eisley Cantina, but the anthem that rang out across the ground every time the great man scored a goal. Simply magnifique. 

Read more: Transfer News LIVE – Kane to hold talks with Spurs, Man Utd in ‘box seat’ to sign Saul Niguez

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