Lucien Leduc, Emile Bongiorno and Ferenc Nyers led the first wave of French footballers to move to Serie A in the immediate post-war years only for Italian interest to dry up with none of the trio making much impact.
Over the next couple of decades, just a further two French internationals of note transferred to Italy with only striker Nestor Combin an unequivocal success. But then came Platini in 1982 and Frenchmen have been a significant part of the Italian scene ever since.
Sébastien Frey (Internazionale, Verona, Parma, Fiorentina, Genoa)
A veteran of 15 seasons in Serie A, Frey shrugged off the disappointment of not managing to establish himself with Inter to go on and have a successful career on the peninsula anyway. The shot-stopper's best years came with Parma and Fiorentina.
Image Source: Twitter
Lilian Thuram (Parma, Juventus)
A quick, strong and a supremely talented defender either at right-back or in central defence, Thuram starred for Parma during their glory years towards the end of the 1990s. His form attracted Juventus who paid £25m for his services in 2001 and Thuram went on to have a further five successful seasons in Turin. Image Source: Pinterest
Vincent Candela (Roma)
A two-footed full-back who made his name on the left but could play just as effectively on the right, Candela was a dynamic attack-minded player who was a key player for Roma during his eights years at the club between 1997 and 2005. Image Source: Twitter
Philippe Mexès (Roma, Milan)
An outstanding prospect early in his career at Auxerre, Mexès transferred to Roma in 2004 and after struggling initially matured into a key member of Luciano Spalletti’s squad. A serious knee injury in 2011 looked likely to cut short his career, but this didn’t deter Milan from signing him and the player returning to enjoy something of a renaissance with the rossoneri. Image Source: Story of Calcio
Marcel Desailly (Milan)
A towering central defender who could, and did, function just as effectively as an imposing central midfielder. Desailly move to Milan as a Champions League winner with Marseille and repeated the feat in his debut season with the rossoneri. Milan’s 4-0 win over Barcelona in that 1994 Final featured a career-defining performance for the Frenchman during his half decade at the club.
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Didier Deschamps (Juventus)
A midfielder who did the simple things exceptionally well and was highly adept at knitting a team together. Deschamps was another ex-Marseille star who ended up in Italy and went on to even greater heights there, appearing in three successive Champions League Finals for Juventus and winning three domestic titles. Image Source: Pinterest
Patrick Vieira (Milan, Juventus, Internazionale)
After failing to breakthrough at Milan as a youngster, Patrick Vieira moved to England and stardom with Arsenal. A decade later he was back in Serie A with Juventus, then a season later at Inter when the Turin giants were forcibly relegated. The next four seasons in Milan brought huge success with the Frenchman at the heart of the midfield. Image Source: Twitter
Youri Djorkaeff (Internazionale)
Less ostentatiously gifted and less celebrated in the media than his contemporary Zidane, Youri Djorkaeff was arguably the more effective of the pair during his time in Serie A as a withdrawn attacker. He formed part of a thrilling forward line at Inter alongside Ronaldo and Ivan Zamorano and contributed a respectable number of goals and assists during his three seasons at the club.
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Néstor Combin (Juventus, Varese, Torino, Milan)
A fast and powerful striker whose goalscoring exploits in France with Lyon caught the eye of Serie A's fiants. Combin was one of the earliest French internationals to play in Italy and his time in Serie A spanned four clubs and six seasons. Not especially prolific a scorer, his selfless running did set up many goals for teammates however. Image Source: Twitter
Michel Platini (Juventus)
The dominant footballer in Serie A during his five years with Juventus between 1982 and 1987, Platini was primarily an advanced midfield playmaker who scored goals with the frequency of a top centre forward. His sublime forward play inspired the Turin giants to a European Cup, Cup Winners Cup, several Italian titles and a domestic cup. Image Source: goal.com
David Trezeguet (Juventus)
A strong and intelligent centre forward who led the line brilliantly for Juventus for the entirety of the 2000s following his £20m move from Monaco. Over his decade there he scored 138 goals in 245 games making him Juve’s fourth-highest scorer and he was Serie A’s joint capocannoniere in 2002 with 24 goals. Image Source: Twitter
SEE ALSO: Superstars at Serie A minnow clubs
Many fine players just failed to make the cut for this team of France’s best players in Serie A history – especially attackers.
Undoubtedly the most contentious omission is that of Zinedine Zidane, a player who illuminated Serie A with moments of rare genius, but was less productive overall than the forwards selected instead.