Les attaquants stars qui débarquent en Ligue 1 comme Sanchez à l'OM, est-ce une garantie?

Les attaquants stars qui débarquent en Ligue 1 comme Sanchez à l’OM, est-ce une garantie?

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The signing of Alexis Sanchez at Olympique de Marseille recalls these other star attackers who have landed in Ligue 1 over the past twenty years. Some have had great success there, others have passed in a whirlwind and without leaving an indelible mark.

To each his “great attacker”, his successes and his failures. Olympique de Marseille holds its big hit of the summer with Alexis Sanchez, who arrives at La Canebière with his status and the weight of his 33 years, too. In the 21st century, several star attackers have joined Ligue 1, sometimes in their best years, sometimes well into their thirties. Small review of the workforce, putting aside Ibrahimovic, Cavani and the other stars of Paris Saint-Germain, an ecosystem apart.

Balotelli, the unpredictable

“Super Mario” spent three years in Ligue 1, far too long to know a 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. Scorer of two goals in his first match against OM, which is as many as in his two previous combined exercises, he led the Gym to the championship podium for his first year in France. The following season, he planted another 18 pawns in L1 and only Cavani, Thauvin, Depay and Neymar did better.

But the story takes another turn for his third year in France. Lucien Favre, the one who managed more or less to channel it, is no longer there. 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 had a good second half of the season with eight goals in Ligue 1. But the adventure with Marseille ended after that, and that of Balotelli in France with it.

Falcao, the legend

From this list of players, Radamel Falcao is by far the one who left the best mark in France. He arrived in Monaco at the age of 27, after two monstrous seasons at Atlético de Madrid, thanks to the checkbook of the owner Rybolovlev, who wants to hit hard for the return of ASM to Ligue 1. His transfer costs a little more than 40 million euros in Monaco, a madness at the time, as much as his ten-figure annual salary. Except that his first season is marked by his serious injury against Chasselay, in the Coupe de France.

Absent for six months, the Colombian was then loaned to Manchester United and Chelsea, where he did not win. He was then a huge flop, but his return to Monaco was punctuated with success. Captain of the club from 2016, he led the club to the semi-finals of the Champions League, won the title of champion of France and scored 30 goals in all competitions. After that, he offers himself two last seasons with 18 and 15 goals in Ligue 1 before saying goodbye to the championship.

Kluivert, the flash in the pan

When he arrived in Lille in 2007, Patrick Kluivert came out of three difficult seasons at Newcastle, Valencia and PSV. He is 31 years old and wants to revive, so he agrees to be paid according to his performance. After losing fifteen kilos to look like a pro player again, he scored in his first start against Valenciennes and gave the impression of being a winning bet. Except that the physical condition does not follow.

Aligned as a playmaker, he plays little, only 14 games over the season. In Lille, we assure that he brings a lot in the locker room, with young people. But on the pitch, the Dutchman is no longer the player he was at Ajax or Barca. He only scored four small goals and retired at the end of the season.

Morientes, the top turned flop

In France, Fernando Morientes has known the best as well as the worst. The best with Monaco, during the 2004-2005 season. The Spaniard scored ten goals in Ligue 1 and especially nine in the Champions League, where he was a crucial element of the Monegasque epic until the final. But when he returned five years later to Olympique de Marseille, where he found Didier Deschamps, the story was very different.

Morientes is now 33 years old and it shows. He signs for two years and scores from his first meeting in the shoes of a holder, against Valenciennes – like Kluivert. But that will be all. It is his only goal with the Marseille jersey, in 19 games played. In the second half of the season, he played only eight minutes in Ligue 1, not helped by injuries and competition from Niang. In the summer of 2010, OM announced that the Spaniard’s contract was terminated. Morientes retires in stride.

Depay, hope regained

After the World Cup which made him a great hope of world football, Memphis Depay lived a year and a half of trouble at Manchester United. He therefore arrives in Lyon at only 22 years old, with a reputation as a difficult player to manage but a possible crack. After six interesting first months, his first full year is complete. 19 goals and 13 assists in Ligue 1, the Dutchman becomes a star of the championship.

Sometimes aligned on the left side, sometimes in the middle, he is the leader of the Lyon attack, first with Lacazette and Fekir, then alone. Promoted to captain in the fall of 2019, he was instrumental in OL’s European journey to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2020. For his last season in France, he even reached the bar of 20 goals in Ligue 1 , before flying to FC Barcelona in the summer of 2021, proof that Lyon was the right 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 in the back, he still scored twice in his second Ligue 1 match, in Rennes.

But then he was held back by injuries, including a serious one against Paris Saint-Germain during contact with Bernard Mendy, who ended his season. Vieri, in total, scored five goals in 11 games and left in anonymity. His career has already taken off and he will spend the next three years wandering from club to club without ever regaining his level.

Robin Wattraint RMC Sport journalist

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