The 10 Best French Midfielders of all time

Best French Midfielders of all time: France has a history full of amazing football players, and midfielders played a crucial role in their success. Talented players with different styles, like creative playmakers and strong ball-winners, have made a lasting impact on the game.

Best French Midfielders of all time

This article aims to examine the incredible careers and contributions of these legendary figures. It will explore how these players shaped the sport and solidified the top spot for the undisputed king of French midfielders.

10. N’Golo Kante

  • Date of Birth: 29 March 1991 (age 32 Year)
  • Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
  • Position(s): Defensive midfielder

Starting off our ranking of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” at number 10 is N’Golo Kante. He’s known as one of the most reliable and energetic players, excelling as a box-to-box midfielder.

Best French Midfielders of all time
Source: Instagram

Kante, representing France internationally, has solidified his position in both his club and the national team. His intelligence and exceptional skills in winning the ball make him indispensable.

What sets him apart is his selfless style of play. During games, Kante tirelessly works to retrieve the ball, is always on the move, and creates passing opportunities for his teammates. He seldom loses possession, rarely gets booked, and is a consistent presence in the starting lineup. Described as a midfield engine, Kante is likened to the Rolls Royce of central midfielders.

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup: 1x (2018)
  • UEFA European Championship runner-up: 1x (2016)
  • UEFA Nations League: 1x (2020–21)

9. Marcel Desailly

  • Date of Birth: 7 September 1968 (age 55 Year)
  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back, defensive midfielder

Taking the 9th spot on the list of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” is Marcel Desailly. He achieved significant success with the Bleu team, winning everything from a World Cup to two Confederation Cups. Desailly served as a commander in the central defense for 11 years, alongside notable names like Frank Leboeuf and Laurent Blanc.

Source: Instagram

His accomplishments include winning the 1998 World Cup, the 2000 Euro, and, as the captain, lifting the Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003. Desailly holds the sixth position for the most appearances in the national team, totaling 116 matches, although he scored only three goals.

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup: 1x (1998)
  • UEFA European Championship: 1x (2000)
  • FIFA Confederations Cup: 1x (2001, 2003)

8. Youri Djorkaeff

  • Date of Birth: 9 March 1968 (age 55 Year)
  • Height: 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
  • Position(s): Attacking midfielder, Forward

Youri Djorkaeff is ranked 8th on the list of the “Best French Midfielders of All Time.” From October 1993 to June 2002, he played 82 games for the French national team and scored 28 goals.

Best French Midfielders of all time
Source: Instagram

He played in the 1998 World Cup, the 2000 European Championship, and the 2001 Confederations Cup, and France won all three tournaments during his time on the team.

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup: 1998 1x (2006)
  • UEFA European Championship: 1x (2000)
  • FIFA Confederations Cup: 1x (2001)

7. Didier Deschamps

  • Date of Birth: 15 October 1968 (age 55 Year)
  • Height: 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Defensive midfielder

Claiming the 7th spot on the list of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” is Didier Deschamps. A key attribute that defines him is leadership. Didier played a crucial role in France during challenging times, notably outside the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and the early exit from the 1992 Euro Cup.

Best French Midfielders of all time
Source: Instagram

Deschamps took on the responsibility of guiding the team through a transition to the golden era of French football. His leadership was instrumental in securing World Cup victory on home soil in 1998 and the Euro 2000, captaining the team in both editions. This makes him one of the best players in French history.

Having played 103 games as a player, Deschamps has now surpassed 100 games as a coach. Notably, he is the third person to achieve a world title both as a footballer and as a coach.

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup: 2018; runner-up: 1x (2022)
  • UEFA Nations League: 1x (2020–21)
  • UEFA European Championship runner-up: 1x (2016)

6. Patrick Vieira

  • Date of Birth: 23 June 1976 (age 47 Year)
  • Height: 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Landing at the 6th spot on the list of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” is Patrick Vieira. Born in 1976, Vieira is a former French footballer who currently serves as the head coach of New York FC.

Best French Midfielders of all time
Source: Instagram

His notable playing career included a stint at Arsenal from 1996 to 2005, and he retired in 2011. Vieira distinguished himself as a midfielder during his time at Arsenal, contributing significantly and scoring a total of 103 international goals.

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup: 1998, runner-up: 1x (2006)
  • UEFA European Championship: 1x (2000)
  • FIFA Confederations Cup: 1x (2001)

5. Raymond Kopa

  • Date of Birth: 13 October 1931
  • Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
  • Position(s): Forward

Securing the 5th position on the list of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” is Raymond Kopa. Hailed as one of the premier footballers of the 1950s, Kopa was a speedy playmaker, predominantly playing as an attacking midfielder.

Best French Midfielders of all time
Image Source: Instagram

His standout moment came in the 1958 World Cup, where he led the team to the semifinals, facing a loss to the formidable Brazilian team featuring Pelé, Vavá, and Nilton Santos. Kopa contributed significantly, scoring three goals in the tournament, including one against Germany in the third-place match.

His outstanding international performance, coupled with winning the European championship with Real Madrid in 1958, earned him the prestigious Ballon d’Or.

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup third place: 1x (1958)

4. Paul Pogba

  • Date of Birth: 15 March 1993 (age 30 Year)
  • Height: 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Taking the 4th spot on the list of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” is Paul Pogba. Currently playing for Juventus F.C and representing the France national team, Pogba primarily operates as a midfielder but is versatile enough to play as a striker or defender.

Image Source: Instagram

He has solidified his reputation as one of the most promising young football players globally. Pogba’s presence on the list of highest-paid players and involvement in some of the most expensive transfers in history reflects his significant impact in the world of football.

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup: 1x (2018)
  • UEFA Nations League: 1x (2020–21)
  • UEFA European Championship runner-up: 1x (2016)

3. Franck Ribéry

  • Date of Birth: 7 April 1983 (age 40 Year)
  • Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
  • Position(s): Winger

Securing the 3rd position on the list of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” is Franck Ribéry. A distinguished French professional footballer, Ribéry currently plays for the German club Bayern Munich and is a former player for the French national team. His primary position is as a winger, and he excels in attacking plays.

Best French Midfielders of all time
Source: Instagram

Ribéry is renowned for his exceptional speed while running with the ball. The legendary Zinedine Zidane has praised him as the “jewel of French football.” Standing out as both a striker and midfielder, Ribéry has scored a total of 49 international goals during his career.

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup runner-up: 1x (2006)

2. Zinedine Zidane

  • Date of Birth: 23 June 1972 (age 51 Year)
  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Position(s): Attacking midfielder

Claiming the 2nd position on the list of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” is Zinedine Zidane. For a considerable period, Zidane held the title of the most expensive footballer globally and represented the national team in 108 matches – few players have left as significant a mark as him. The playmaker began his career at Girondins Bordeaux and went on to play for Juventus Turin and Real Madrid. Presently, he serves as the coach of the Real Madrid second team.

Best French Midfielders of all time
Image Source: Instagram

Zidane played a pivotal role in leading France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship. Despite the memorable headbutt that marked his exit from the football stage in the final of the 2006 World Cup against Marco Materazzi, Zidane’s legacy includes other remarkable moments. One such moment was his volley goal in the 2001 Champions League final.

The son of Algerian immigrants, Zidane received numerous accolades, including being named World Footballer of the Year three times (1998, 2000, 2003) and once as the World Cup Player (2006).

Honours With France:

  • FIFA World Cup: 1998; runner-up: 1x (2006)
  • UEFA European Championship: 1x (2000)

1. Michel Platini

  • Date of Birth: 21 June 1955 (age 68 Year)
  • Height: 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Earning the title of the “Best French Midfielder of All Time” is Michel Platini. Widely regarded as one of the most complete footballers ever, Platini had a diverse skill set that allowed him to influence games in various ways. His repertoire included free-kick prowess, ball control, dribbling, and deadly one-on-one finishing, all complemented by exceptional vision and playmaking ability.

Best French Midfielders of all time
Image Source: Instagram

Platini played a crucial role in securing France’s first international title in history during the Euro 1984. In the final against Spain, he opened the scoring in the 57th minute and ended the tournament as the top scorer with 9 goals, triumphing over teams like Portugal, Denmark, Belgium, and Yugoslavia.

Following a third-place finish in the 1986 World Cup, Platini retired from the French team with 41 goals, holding the record for the team’s all-time leading scorer at that time.

Honours With France:

  • UEFA European Championship: 1x (1984)
  • Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1x (1985)
  • FIFA World Cup third place: 1x (1986)

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