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A Collection of Stars: French Born Players Who Don’t Play for France

Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid, Mohamed Sissoko of Juventus, Marouane Chamakh of Arsenal, Sebastian Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto of Spurs…

This is just the beginning of a long list of players with two common traits: having been born in France and playing for another national team.

Obviously players choose other nations because of their cultural heritage or because they feel they may not be selected for France, but the quality of this group of players that Les Bleus have missed out on is astounding, particularly on the offensive end.

As far as  goalkeepers go, the only player of note to fit the criteria is Raïs M’Bolhi, currently of Russian club Krylia Sovetov, who is famous as the Algerian keeper who kept a clean sheet in an impressive performance against England in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup. He appears to be Algeria’s starting keeper and France aren’t missing him.

As we move up in the positions, things begin to get interesting. When we look at defenders to whom these qualifications apply, this France fan begins to wish some of these options were available to us. Benoît Assou-Ekotto and Sébastien Bassong, both of Tottenham and both playing for Cameroon, would add something to a France team, while Blackburn’s Christopher Samba, playing internationally with The Republic of the Congo, would be an even more impressive addition. Right back Guy Demel of Hamburger SV and Côte d’Ivoire would complete a back four of these players, while ASNL and Morocco’s Michaël Chrétien could provide backup on the right flank. Other notable defenders are Madjid Bougherra of Rangers and Nadir Belhadj of Al Sadd, both playing for Algeria, who could provide cover on the center and left respectively.

In the midfield, notables include Mohamed Sissoko of Juventus and Mali, Fahid Ben Khalfallah of Bordeaux and Tunisia, Emerse Faé of Nice and Côte d’Ivoire, and Karim Ziani of Wolfsburg and Algeria. Others include Issiar Dia of Fenerbahçe and Senegal, Chris Malonga of Monaco and the Congo, Ryad Boudebouz of Sochaux and Algeria, Ludovic Obraniak of Lille and Poland, and Chaoki Ben Saada of Nice and Tunisia.

When we look at forwards, the list becomes is stunning. Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid and Argentina, Marouane Chamakh, Arsenal and Morocco, Demba Ba, West Ham and Senegal, Moussa Sow, Lille and Senegal, Youssef El Arabi, Caen and Morocco, Mevlut Erding, PSG and Turkey,  and Frederic Kanoute, Sevilla and Mali. That’s quite an impressive group, one which would revolutionize France’s attacking options.

If we were to put them in a lineup:

(click to expand)

Although the center of midfield is a little weak, that’s a world beating team you’ve got there. That plus a bench of Bougherra, Chretien, Ziani, Boudebouz, Sow, Erding, and Kanoute and you’ve got a team that could easily beat all but the top 10 to 15 international sides. This not only speaks to the talent that France produces but to the diversity of the nation as a whole. I’m still sitting here thinking of what might have been…Gonzalo Higuain…sigh.

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