Who is the best French playmaker of all time?

French footballers have long been revered all over the world, with several of the country’s finest exports going onto having terrific careers in some of the best leagues in the world. This article looks to break down some of the very best French playmaking midfielders of all time.

1. Zinedine Zidane

It would be wrong to start any list of French playmakers without mentioning one of the greatest footballers of all time, Zinedine Zidane. ‘Zizou’ as he is affectionately known will be forever remembered for two World Cup performances in 1998 and 2006. In 1998 he helped lead France to their first ever World Cup title by scoring two goals in the final against Brazil. He also scored in the 2006 final but became the villain after a moment of madness where he headbutted Italian defender Marco Materazzi and got sent off. France would go on to lose the final on penalties.

Domestically Zidane played for some of the world’s greatest clubs including Juventus and Real Madrid. He would win the Champions League in 2002 and La Liga in 2003. Zidane played 104 times for his country, scoring 31 goals.


2. Michel Platini

Arguably one of the greatest midfielders of his generation, Michel Platini is rightly regarded as one of football’s very best. Platini started his career with Nancy before making the move to Saint Etienne. After making waves in France, he moved to Juventus where he would go on to win two Serie A titles and the European Cup.

For his national side Platini accrued 79 caps and scored 41 goals. He was the leading goal scorer for France until Thierry Henry surpassed him. Platini won three Ballon D’Ors and was influential in leading France to European Championship glory in 1984.


3. Youri Djorkaeff

Djorkaeff makes our list as although he doesn’t quite have the global recognition of both Platini and Zidane he still ranks tenth in the all-time France goal scoring list. As a midfielder his tally of 28 goals in 82 international appearances is impressive and only Zidane has scored more goals from his position. Djorkaeff played a key role in France’s success in both the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

Domestically Djorkaeff played for some of France’s and Europe’s biggest clubs which include Monaco and PSG. He moved to Inter Milan in the late 90s where he won the UEFA Cup in 1998.


4. Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry makes our list as despite being the leading scorer for France, it’s not often he would play through the middle on his own – Henry would often line up on either flank of the pitch, often cutting in with devastating effect.

Henry scored 51 goals in 123 appearances for Les Blues. Henry was a part of the winning 1998 World Cup squad but played a much more significant role in France’s Euro 2000 triumph.

When it comes to domestic success very few can rival Henry’s list of achievements. A three time Premier League Champion with Arsenal, Henry would swap Highbury for the Nou Camp where he would win La Liga twice, the Champions League, Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

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