When Ligue 1 signings go bad (look away Tottenham fans)

Could Eden Hazard follow in Steve Marlet’s unassuming footsteps?


Given the news that new Messi-Ronaldo-and-Joe-Cole all rolled into one Eden Hazard is keen on joining Tottenham, most are applauding the fact that Spurs are now at a level where they can attract such glamorous names. Trust The Spoiler to stiletto stamp all over that bubble with four examples of bright, shiny Ligue 1 talents rapidly ceasing to glisten after stepping onto English shores…

Stephane Guivarc’h (Auxerre to Newcastle, 1998)
Showing how highly Newcastle were viewed in the late-1990s, even after a 13th-place finish, they were able to lure the World Cup winners’ starting striker. He got a debut goal but made just three more appearances before being “stuck in a cupboard” by Ruud Gullit then shipped off to Rangers. The Daily Mail harshly named him the Premier League’s worst ever forward, to which he issued the accurate but rather off-topic reply: “The English. What have they won since the World Cup in 1966?”

Steve Marlet (Lyon to Fulham, 2001)
Marlet provided Fulham with 11 goals in 55 Premier League games in return for their £11.5 million investment, leaving owner Mohamed Al Fayed so unimpressed with his manager Jean Tigana’s handiwork that he unsuccessfully sued him, convinced that he must have taken a cut for himself to have paid so epicly over the odds. Lyon didn’t miss him too terribly either, winning the next seven French titles and establishing themselves as a European force, having never previously finished first.

Houllier’s Ligue 1 legion (various to Liverpool, 2002)
2001-02 had been Liverpool’s best ever Premier League season and the first in which they finished above Manchester United, but how would they build on it? Gerard Houllier opted to use his French connections to sign Senegal World Cup stars El Hadji Diouf and Salif Diao and apparent Zinedine Zidane heir Bruno Cheyrou for a combined sum of around £20 million. They came fifth that term and wouldn’t hit the top two again until their next false dawn under Rafael Benitez seven years later.

Julien Faubert (Bordeaux to West Ham, 2007)
It pains me to put my team’s very own Galactico in there, especially as he’s been our best player this season. However, the only place that the £6.1 million right-sider known as Le TGV sped off to in his first few years was the treatment table, a lack of action leading to that bizarre move to Real Madrid, where his most memorable contribution was having a snooze on the bench. Unlike most flop stories though, this one is set for a happy ending, with Sam Allardyce heroically swooping in to save the day.

Of course there are dozens more examples, so why not chuck a few our way with a comment below…

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