Mercato Mercato – OL – Lucas Paqueta facing the myth: The Premier League, really a springboard for L1 players?


This summer, a dozen or so have crossed the Channel. As always, there are young people with long teeth (Sékou Mara, Boubacar Kamara), a few mirror cabinets (Sven Botman, Amadou Onana) and a star who has become too big for Ligue 1 (Lucas Paqueta). The Premier League has siphoned off the French championship with millions of euros. The Lyonnais therefore landed at West Ham against a colossal check for 60 million euros. But seeing the Brazilian international spinning for a club that has not reached the Premier League top 5 for 23 years is something incongruous.

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Beyond the financial argument, which you should never, ever underestimate, the attraction of the best championship in the world is real. Ligue 1 players see this as an opportunity to boost their careers. But failures are at least as frequent as successes. To see a little more clearly, we decided to observe the fate of the players of the championship of France having tried the big jump for five years, that is to say a big sixty individuals. The result debunks the myth. Explanations.

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Pépé, Sanson and the failed adaptation

The Premier League is a financial Eldorado, no one can dispute that. But if the accountants of Ligue 1 players find their way around, the curve of their career sometimes, if not often, takes a big hit. Half of the residents of L1 who have bet on England since 2017 have seen their odds drop. Sometimes in an extremely spectacular way, like Nicolas Pépé, recruited 80 million euros in 2019 from Arsenal and loaned to Nice this summer, or Morgan Sanson, recruited 10 million euros in January 2021, whom Steven Gerrard no longer wants at Aston Villa 18 months later.

Morgan Sanson signing for Aston Villa

Credit: Getty Images

Adapting to the Premier League, its intensity, its more direct style of play and its rough duels remain major obstacles sometimes underestimated by those who flew over the L1. Others like the international hopefuls Boubakary Soumaré (arrived in Leicester in 2021) or Ibrahima Diallo (Southampton, 2020), recruited at a gold price, see their careers skate in gigantic squads where the competition crushes them. The flagship of Nantes training, Imran Louza, transferred last year to Watford, also intended to explode in the Premier League.

Fulham, Huddersfield, Aston Villa: graveyard of ambitions

It took him four months to digest his change of environment before going down to the Championship where he will have to struggle this year when several beautiful French teams eyed him in August 2021. Some careers have even completely died out with the English. . Adama Diakhaby, announced as Ousmane Dembélé’s successor at Rennes, no longer has a club today, just four years after leaving Monaco for Huddersfield against 10 million euros.

Adama Diakhaby and Baldé Keita in the League Cup.

Credit: Getty Images

Huddersfield (Steven Mounié, Terrence Kongolo) like Southampton (Guido Carrillo), Aston Villa (Frédéric Guilbert, Jordan Amavi, Morgan Sanson) and especially Fulham (Kenny Tete, Jean-Michaël Seri, Alphonse Areola) buried the ambitions of many residents of L1 because of projects with murky outlines. And if succeeding in these clubs is not impossible (Issa Diop), successes are rarer than crashes. Because there isn’t a place for everyone in England, the money flowing in, clouding brains and building overcrowded squads at clubs that only play once a week.

Before West Ham and Paqueta, Newcastle bet on another Lyonnais from Brazil: Bruno Guimaraes. The Brazilian is like a fish in water among the new rich but how long will he have to wait before tasting the Champions League? The question is the same for Paqueta, a priori condemned to play second fiddle in the league when his talent destined him for the C1. This is how careers can stagnate like that of Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal.

Newcastle United fans hold up a banner in tribute to Bruno Guimaraes during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St. James Park

Credit: Getty Images

Two miracles and a recipe?

Is there a miracle recipe for success in England? It is better, already, to have a solid status and a substantial European experience to seduce big clubs which recruit with a coherent sporting project and not only the idea of ​​making the number. This was the case of Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) and Fabinho (Liverpool), who left Monaco in 2018 and became essential links in the two best English clubs. The interest of a big club does not guarantee absolute success. From Malang Sarr (Chelsea) to Tanguy Ndombele, some even had to, like Lacazette this summer, return to France to restart the machine.

And then, the Premier League can work miracles. Transforming a small, inexperienced youngster from ASSE into the most expensive defender in history (Wesley Fofana) or making a Rennes goalkeeper who went through unemployment the best goalkeeper in the Champions League (Edouard Mendy). Fairy tales that feed the fantasies of the English El Dorado and hide a much less rosy reality.

Edouard Mendy, Chelsea goalkeeper

Credit: Getty Images

To become a French international, it is better to avoid England

To become a French international, it is better to avoid England. Since Euro 2016, no player having known his first selection under the orders of Didier Deschamps has played in the Premier League. They are however a big twenty, from Liga (Jules Koundé), Ligue 1 (Jonathan Clauss, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Jonathan Ikoné, Léo Dubois etc.), Serie A (Théo Hernandez, Jordan Veretout) and Bundesliga (Marcus Thuram , Dayot Upamecano, Moussa Diaby, Christopher Nkunku etc.), to have discovered the Blues. Morgan Sanson before joining England was, for example, very close. But the Premier League, as rich, powerful and glittering as it is, is never guaranteed to touch the stars. The dream most often turns into a mirage.

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