All 16 Liverpool French Players Ranked

Before the famous Spanish revolution led by Rafa Benitez, Gerrard Houllier had his hearts set on an unwavering quest to deliver success for the mighty Reds when he first joined in 1998.

Liverpool’s last silverware back then was in 1995, and Houllier had masterminded a five-year plan to restore the Reds back to the glory days.

Fast forward three years, he saw hundreds of thousands lined up along Liverpool to celebrate the French revolution that brought a historic cup treble.

It was surely the pinnacle of Houllier’s career at Liverpool, which also saw him led the influx of talented young French players to Melwood. How many actually made it at the top level?

We are taking a closer look at the French players who played for the Reds since 2000 – shedding some light on those who impressed, and the few who probably wished they did not play for Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s current senior side have not got a French representative to date... will Kylian Mbappe perhaps top this list someday?

Qui vivra verra...

16. Bernard Diomede

Not many will remember the French winger, can we can hardly blame you for it. Diomede had two league appearances for the Reds to his name, having signed by Gerard Houllier for three million pounds in June 2000. We are not quite sure what the then Liverpool manager saw in his fellow countryman, but then again he did have his fair share of dubious signings.

15. Patrice Luzi

It is surely one of the strangest jobs when you are a third choice goalkeeper at a club – you train all week and might never ever have a chance to play in an actual competitive game, which is almost akin to… like nothing we would ever know.

Luzi was a third choice for most parts of his career, making his three years at Anfield a very forgettable one. Paul Jones and Chris Kirkland were ahead of him in the pecking order, which perhaps tells you all you should need to know.

14. Charles Itandje

The French goalkeeper time at Merseyside will always be remembered by what happened off the pitch – his career was scarred by the sour incident that occurred during the Hillsborough memorial incident in April 2009, where his hugely inappropriate behaviour was largely condemned.

Itandje apologised for his actions, although it was clear that he was never going to feature for the Reds ever again. The once fifth-choice goalkeeper left Anfield after three seasons – apologized for his actions once again – but it’s fair to say he will hardly get the red carpet treatment back in Liverpool.

13. Pegguy Arphexad

Here’s a fun fact of one of Houllier’s signing: the French goalkeeper had won more medals than Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres, combined.

Arphexad somehow won six medals with Liverpool, all being used as an unused sub. That unique distinction means that it isn’t technically wrong to label him as one of the most successful goalkeepers we had, but having made a grand total of one and a half league appearances for the Reds, it’s safe to say that even Loris Karius had a significantly bigger contribution to the club.

12. Gregory Vignal

Vignal was a promising young player when he first joined Liverpool, having gained quite the reputation at his home-town club Montpellier. The left-back was up against the experienced John Arne Riise for a starting spot, and saw chances hard to come up and went on to make only 20 appearances for the club.

11. Alou Diarra

Perhaps another victim of one of Houllier’s outlandish claims, it turned out that “the next Patrick Viera” only similarity with the actual former Arsenal captain was his bald head.

Ok, that might be a bit harsh – Diarra was actually a really good player, a French international who played for some of the top sides in Ligue 1 and enjoyed considerable success. However, his time at Anfield only saw him feature in pre-season games, before being loaned out to various clubs back in his native country.

10. Damien Plessis

We have already established that France clearly has a reputation of producing promising young talents, although we can safely say that not all ended up following the footsteps of Thierry Henry or Zinedine Zidane.

Plessis was one of them, having signed for Liverpool in 2007 after a building a reputation in Lyon which saw the likes of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa graduate.

The French midfielder found chances hard to come by – but when your competition includes the likes of Jay Spearing and you still struggle, it is hardly surprising that Plessis left Merseyside without making a splash.

9. Aly Cissokho

Cissokho was brought in on a season-long loan deal to provide competition for Jose Enrique, with a reputation of being a quick and attacking fullback. His spell at Anfield was not particularly disastrous, but he failed to capture the imagination of the Kop with his performances, while injuries also meant that his stay was never going to be extended.

8. Anthony Le Tallec

Signed alongside his cousin Florent Sinama Pongolle from Le Havre AC in 2001, Le Tallec was on the back of a burgeoning reputation after impressive performances for France at the UEFA European Under-16 Champions and FIFA U-17 World Cup.

He was awarded the Silver Ball in the World Cup, an individual accolade awarded to the second best player in the tournament. No prizes for guessing who clinched the Golden Ball – both cousins remained on loan at Le Havre for a further two years.

Le Tallec found first-team chances hard to come by when he was at Anfield, eventually moving to Sunderland on loan, where the Black Cats got relegated before his eventual return to Ligue 1. He is now 35, playing for amateur French side FC Annecy.

7. Bruno Cheyrou

Dubbed as “the new Zidane” by Houllier, it probably did not take long for Cheyrou to soon realise that his career was going to end up contrastingly different from the bald French legend.

Houllier’s bold statement probably did the French midfielder no favours when he first arrived, although he did enjoy a couple of memorable performances for Liverpool. He was very quickly loaned out by new manager Rafa Benitez as the Spaniard found his services surplus, where in all fairness, his return to France did not light up too many fireworks either.

6. Djimi Traore

“When you look at the foreign players who came to Liverpool around that time I played more games than most of them. I know I was not the best but I certainly tried my hardest and I’m very proud because in winning the Champions League I achieved something that few people have.” the former versatile defender once explained.

Traore might never escape from the famous own goal he scored in the FA Cup in his lifetime and quite possibly for generations to come – it is immortalised on every YouTube own goal compilation – but the Frenchman did play a crucial role in the 2005 Champions League triumph. Truth is, he was never quite good enough – and he knows it too – but possessed an attitude and spirit that was truly admirable.

5. Florent Sinama Pongolle

One of the brightest young stars in world football, he was snapped up by Liverpool at the age of 16, but ultimately failed to live up to his enormous potential. Sinama Pongolle played a key role in the Champions League success in 2005, scoring the important equaliser in the 3-1 victory over Olympiacos FC.

The Champions League winner went on and became quite the journeyman in football, having had stints in Thailand, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Scotland and the United States – a path the player who was once crowned MVP at the U-17 World Cup probably did not expect.

4. Nicholas Anelka

The French journeyman was one of foodtball’s finest forwards, having played at some of the world’s biggest clubs – PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus were all part of his incredible CV.

His loan spell at Liverpool was a successful one – four league goals in 20 appearances – but it was not enough to impress Houllier as he went on to sign El Hadji Diouf as a replacement.

Talk about massive mistakes.

3. David N’Gog

It is surprising to note that the French forward is still only 30; having played for Liverpool in what seems like an eternity ago.

Benitez had hailed his scouting network after the signing – which on hindsight would have risen more than a couple of eyebrows – but when you realise we had a certain Andriy Voronin during those forgettable days, perhaps Rafa was right.

N’Gog went on to a decent 19 goals for the Reds, but found his contribution limited to an impact substitute – with Fernando Torres then enjoying the form of his life.

Still one of the best recent French players we had.

2. Mamadou Sakho

It is quite incomprehensible that Sakho started his professional career as a striker, considering he is now known for his unconventional and unorthodox (and at most times, awkward) playing style.

Once the youngest-ever captain for Paris Saint-German at the age of just 17, Sakho was clearly one of the brightest young prospects in football. He eventually went on to Liverpool and despite a siege of injuries, built a cult status of his own thanks to his relationship with fans and brave performances.

The defender who once vowed to give his all for the Scouse nation eventually left Anfield after a string of disciplinary issues – from lateness to doping – and it became increasingly clear he was falling out of favour with manager Jurgen Klopp.

An excellent defender, if you can survive the heart-attacks as part of his alternative approach to defending, coupled with an affable personality means the Anfield cult hero will not be forgotten by the Kop anytime soon.

1. Djibril Cisse

Having made his name at Auxerre in Ligue 1 plundering a remarkable 70 goals in 128 league games, Cisse was a player never short of confidence when he arrived at Liverpool – with his often flamboyant hairstyles and flashy boots to match.

The French forward’s misfortune with injuries is well-documented, but on his day, he was unplayable – combining raw pace, strength and deadly finishing to devastating effect.

He had scored some really important goals for the Reds, including dispatching the penalty in the 2005 Champions League final in ice-cold fashion, and the quite brilliant opening goal against West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup success.

Terrible injuries and playing out of position by Rafa Benitez might have hindered his progress at Anfield, but there is no denying that Cisse was truly one of the most prolific forwards at his best, along with a personality that saw him went from clutches to Champions League winner.