France's talent factory excites Premiership

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The Independent Football

The flow of football talent out of France is likely to grow stronger in the coming weeks. The French transfer window opened at midnight last night and Premiership clubs in particular are expected to spend heavily across the Channel this summer.

The flow of football talent out of France is likely to grow stronger in the coming weeks. The French transfer window opened at midnight last night and Premiership clubs in particular are expected to spend heavily across the Channel this summer.

Under the window system, which Fifa, the governing body of world football, wants to impose internationally, transfers may take place only at certain times of the year. There are usually two windows, one between seasons and the other in mid-season around the turn of the year. In France the present window will remain open until 31 August.

France has become the greatest exporter of footballers in Europe. The coaching revolution led by Gérard Houllier when he was working with the French federation in the early 1990s has produced a generation of exceptional footballers.

However, while France have dominated the international stage over the last four years, winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, leading French clubs have been unable to capitalise on their home-grown talent. With television income only a fraction of that enjoyed by their counterparts in Britain, Spain and Italy, French clubs have been unable to compete financially.

When France play the opening match of the World Cup in Seoul at the end of the month, they will probably have in their line-up only one player – Frank Leboeuf of Marseilles – playing for a French club. Paradoxically, their opponents, Senegal, will field a team of largely French-based players.

The only consolation for French clubs is that the financial crisis in the lower reaches of the English game is likely to mean that few Nationwide League clubs will be going on cross-Channel shopping trips this summer.

CROSS-CHANNEL TARGETS FOR BRITISH CLUBS

Nicolas Anelka (Paris St-Germain) - Forward, 23
Recruited by Arsenal from PSG, he has already been the subject of two £20m-plus transfers, to Real Madrid and then back to PSG. Joined Liverpool on loan last season and is currently negotiating a permanent move.

Bruno Cheyrou (Lille) - Midfield, 24
One of France's rising stars. Hugely impressive for Lille during their Champions' League campaign. A skillful midfielder with an eye for goal, he is expected to join Liverpool for £3.7m.

Djibril Cisse (Auxerre) - Forward, 20
The hottest property in French football. Strong, fast, skillful and with a fierce shot, Cisse has quickly established himself as a proven goalscorer and is in the French World Cup squad. Auxerre are said to have an understanding with Liverpool that he will move to Anfield next year.

Pascal Cygan (Lille) - Defender, 28
A powerful, tough defender, signed by Lille from Wasquehal. Interested West Ham last year and is now said to be wanted by both Lens and Bordeaux.

Vikash Dhorasoo (Bordeaux) - Midfielder, 29
A skillful and inventive player, at his best when running with the ball, Dhorasoo has superb technique. Previously with Le Havre and Lyon.

Salif Diao (Sedan) - Midfield, 25
Moved to France at the age of 17 and joined Sedan from Monaco two years ago. A skillful midfielder who has become an established member of the Senegal national team. Liverpool are said to be keen on him.

Christophe Dugarry (Bordeaux) - Striker, 30
A member of France's successful 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 teams, Dugarry returned to his home-town club after spells with Milan, Barcelona and Marseilles. Has scored regularly throughout his career. Close friend of his former Bordeaux colleague, Zinedine Zidane.

Mickael Landreau (Nantes) - Goalkeeper, 23
Regarded for several years as the best young goalkeeper in France, but has yet to establish himself at international level. Appointed club captain at an early age and won the French title with Nantes last year. Interests Bordeaux, Lyon and Italian clubs.

Moussa N'Diaye (Sedan) - Midfield, 23
Joined Sedan two years ago from Monaco, where he won a championship medal. Has become an established Senegal international over the last four years. Said to interest West Ham.

Pius N'Diefi (Sedan) - Forward, 26
Made his debut in French football with Lens nine years ago. Moved to Sedan six years ago and has been an important figure in the Ardennes club's success story of recent years. Cameroon international.

Jay-Jay Okocha (Paris St-Germain) - Midfielder, 28
Started with Rangers at home in Nigeria before moving to Germany, where he played for Borussia Neunkirchen and Eintracht Frankfurt. Joined Fenerbache in 1995 and moved to Paris after outstanding performances at the 1998 World Cup. One of the stars of the Nigerian national team, he is said to interest Chelsea and Tottenham.

Pauleta (Bordeaux) - Striker, 29
The leading scorer in the French First Division has attracted the interest of several clubs, including Leeds and Valencia. The former Deportivo La Coruña striker is in Portugal's World Cup squad. Mobile, good in the air and with a fierce shot in both feet.

Antoine Sibierski (Lens) - Midfielder, 27
A key member of the Lens squad that narrowly failed to win the French championship earlier this month. Had two-year spells with Auxerre and Nantes after leaving his home-town club, Lille. English clubs could face competition from Bordeaux for the signature of the goalscoring midfielder.

David Sommeil (Bordeaux) - Defender, 27
The Guadeloupe-born defender is said to interest Arsenal and Chelsea. Formerly with Caen and Rennes, he joined Bordeaux two years ago and has been on the fringe of the national team without making the breakthrough.

Daniel van Buyten (Marseilles) - Defender, 24
Some of Europe's leading clubs, including Juventus and Manchester United, have shown an interest in the Belgian international, who was signed from Standard Liège. Big and strong, his game should be suited to the Premiership.

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