Alexis Sanchez’s signing at Olympique de Marseille remembers these other star strikers who have landed in the French Ligue 1 over the past 20 years. Some have had great success there, others have passed in a whirlwind and without leaving an indelible mark.
Each of his “great strikers” has his ups and downs. Olympique de Marseille had a huge success in the summer with Alexis Sanchez, who arrived at La Canebière with his stature and weight of 33 as well. In the 21st century, many star strikers have joined Ligue 1, sometimes in their best years, sometimes even in their thirties. Small revision of the workforce, excluding Ibrahimovic, Cavani and other PSG stars, a separate ecosystem.
Balotelli, who is unpredictable
“Super Mario” spent three years in the French league, which is too long to know the linear history. But in Nice, where he landed at the age of 26 in the summer of 2016, he will have left a positive memory. He scored two goals in his first game against OM, the equivalent of his two previous combined workouts, and led the gym to a championship podium in his first year in France. The following season, he was still planting 18 pawns in L1 and only Cavani, Tofin, Depay and Neymar were the best.
But the story takes another turn for his third year in France. Lucien Favre, the one who had managed to somehow direct her, was no longer around. Mario Balotelli does not get along with Patrick Vieira and goes six months without scoring. In winter, he goes to OM who are still looking for their big striker. He scored again in his first match and achieved a good second half of the season with eight goals in Ligue 1. But then the adventure with Marseille ended, and Balotelli’s adventure in France with her.
Falcao the legend
From this list of players, Radamel Falcao is the one who left the best mark in France. He arrived in Monaco at the age of 27, after two grueling seasons at Atletico Madrid, thanks to owner Rybolovlev’s checkbook, who wants to strike hard for ASM’s return to Ligue 1. His transfer costs are just over 40. Million euros in Monaco, crazy at that. time, as much as his ten-figure annual salary. However, his first season was marked by a serious injury against Chasselay at the Coupe de France.
He missed for six months, then the Colombian was loaned to Manchester United and Chelsea, where he did not win. He was then very unsuccessful, but his return to Monaco was punctuated by success. The club captain from 2016 led the club to the semi-finals of the Champions League, winning the title of champion of France and scoring 30 goals in all competitions. Then, he gave himself two final seasons with 18 and 15 goals in Ligue 1 before saying goodbye to the championship.
Kluivert, the flash in the pan
When he arrived at Lille in 2007, Patrick Kluivert pulled off three tough seasons at Newcastle, Valencia and Eindhoven. He is 31 years old and wants to recover, so he agrees to be paid according to his performance. After losing fifteen kilograms to appear a professional player again, he scored in his first match against Valencia and gave the impression that he was a winning bet. Except that the physical condition does not follow.
As a playmaker, he plays little, only 14 games during the season. In Lille, we confirm that he brings a lot in the locker room with the guys. But on the field, the Dutchman is no longer the player he used to play for Ajax or Barcelona. He scored only four small goals and retired at the end of the season.
Morientes, top turned flop
In France, Fernando Morientes knew the best and the worst. The best with Monaco during the 2004-2005 season. The Spaniard scored ten goals there in Ligue 1 and most importantly nine in the Champions League, where he was a crucial component of Monaco’s epic up to the final. But when he returned five years later to Olympique de Marseille, where he found Didier Deschamps, the story was quite different.
Morientes is now 33 years old and that shows. He signs for two years and scores from his first encounter in a pregnant shoe, against Valencia – like Kluivert. But that will be all. It is his only goal in the Marseille shirt, in 19 matches he played. In the second half of the season, he played only eight minutes in the French league, and injuries and competition from Niang did not help him. In the summer of 2010, OM announced that the Spaniard’s contract had been terminated. Morientes retire at a stride.
Depay, regain hope
After the World Cup that made him a great hope in world football, Memphis Depay lived a year and a half in trouble at Manchester United. So he arrived in Lyon at just 22, and was known to be a tough player to work with but potentially a rift. After an interesting first six months, his first full workout is complete. 19 goals and 13 assists in the French League, the Dutchman becomes the star of the tournament.
Sometimes aligned on the left side, sometimes in the middle, he is the captain of the Lyon offensive, first with Lacazette and Fikr, and then alone. Promoted to captain in the fall of 2019, he was instrumental in OL’s European journey to the Champions League semi-finals in 2020. In his final season in France, he even reached the 20-goal bar in Ligue 1 before traveling to Barcelona in Summer of 2021, proof that Lyon was the place to pick up the thread of his career.
Vieri, the failed bet
When he arrived in Monaco in January 2006, Christian Vieri had a clear idea. He wants to regain his place in the Italian selection to participate in the World Cup in Germany. But at 33, his best years are behind him. Number 36 at the back, he still scored twice in his second Ligue 1 game, at Rennes.
But then he was hampered by injuries, including a serious injury against Paris Saint-Germain during friction with Bernard Mendy, who ended his season. Ferry, in total, scored five goals in 11 matches and left without revealing his identity. His career has already taken off and he will spend the next three years wandering from club to club without ever getting back into shape.