This latest gallery of La Liga imports stars players of French origin and we’ve constructed a fantasy team starring some of the very best footballers from Spain’s near neighbours to have played with distinction in the Spanish game.
The selection spans 67 years, starting back with defender Louis Hon, who joined Real Madrid in 1950, through to contemporary stars like Rafael Varane who is impressing with the same club today.
Richard Dutruel (Celta Vigo, Barcelona, Alavés 1996-03)
The former Paris Saint-Germain 'keeper made a low-key move to Celta Vigo in 1996, but given the opportunity of a run of games to establish himself, he developed rapidly into one of the most reliable keepers in the League. A move to Barcelona followed, but Dutruel was unable to establish himself at the Nou Camp so moved on to Alavés. Image Source: Twitter
Louis Hon (Real Madrid 1950-53)
A star for Stade Français, Hon showed unusually good technique and control for a defender and was an effective starter of attacks from deep positions. His talent caught Real Madrid’s eye and he spent three fine seasons with the Spanish giants. Image Source: Twitter
Raphael Varane (Real Madrid 2011-present)
Injuries and great established players in his position have hindered Varane from becoming a fixture at Real Madrid, yet when he has played his seering pace, good passing and reading of the game has marked him out as one of the best central defenders in the world game. Image Source: Alchetron
Eric Abidal. Barcelona 2007-13
A powerful central defender or left-back, Abidal offered up power and technique as an important member of several brilliant Barcelona teams that won Champions League titles in 2009 and 2011. Unfortunately his later career was affected by liver problems that necessitates a transplant.
Image Source: Pinterest
Claude Makélélé (Real Madrid 2000-03)
Small in stature but huge in influence, Makélélé was the underrated defensive midfielder who brilliantly plugged the many defensive holes left by teammates marauding forward into attack. Allowed to leave the club because he was not considered glamorous enough, he left a void that Real Madrid struggled to fill. Image Source: Twitter
Christian Karembeu (Real Madrid 1997-2000)
A strong and clever midfield all-rounder, Karambeu was signed by Real Madrid after impressing in Italy with Sampdoria. He settled in seamlessly and was a key member of the Madrid Champions League winning teams of 1998 and 2000.
Lucien Muller (Real Madrid, Barcelona 1962-68)
Although he began his career with Strasbourg, Muller was one of many players who learned their craft with the successful Reims teams of the late 50s and early 60s. His fine technique and eye for a killer pass found admirers in Spain and he joined Real Madrid in 1962. After three seasons in the capital he moved to Barcelona and featured sporadically for a further three seasons.
Larbi Benbarek (Atlético Madrid 1948-53)
Considered to be the first major African to star in European football, Benbarek was a French-Moroccan attacking midfielder who dazzled Atlético Madrid fans for five seasons in the early 1950s with his extravagant dribbling, ball skills and goals. Image Source: Pinterest
Raymond Kopa (Real Madrid 1956-59)
A centre-forward of some considerable poise and guile, Kopa’s brilliance meant it was inevitable he would become one of Real Madrid’s 1950s Galacticos. With Di Stefano the de facto centre0forward in the Madrid team, Kopa was exiled to the right wing and adapted brilliantly to his new role, helping Madrid to three European Cups and two Spanish titles. Image Source: Twitter
Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid 2001-06)
A visionary and extravagantly skilled No.10, Zidane was expensively signed by Real Madrid in 2001 as part of the Galacticos project. His greatest moment in a Madrid jersey followed a year later at Hampden when his wonderful left-footed volley won the Champions League Final against Bayer Leverkusen.
Image Source: Twitter
Thierry Henry (Barcelona 2007-10)
Close to 30, Henry joined Barcelona relatively late in his career but showed that his brilliance remained undimmed by the passage of time. His three-year spell with the Catalans yielded two La Liga titles as well as Copa del Rey and Champions League success. Image Source: Tumblr
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Unsurprisingly ex-Real Madrid and Barcelona players dominate with one, Lucien Muller, a rare example of a player who served both back in the 1960s.
Another player of note is Larbi Benbarek, a Moroccan player when it was a French colony and one of the first African players to breakthrough in a major European League.