Lille OSC may not be one of Europe’s finest, most renowned, or revered teams, but the team from the Northern part of France are certainly one of the top team in Ligue 1, who had won the league, and the Coupe de France. They’ve proved to be a springboard for a number of talents who had made name for themselves before moving on to big teams away from the four walls of ‘Stade Pierre Mauroy’.
Lille OSC played a significant role in helping top teams in Europe to become one of the best sides in terms of selling their finest players to top clubs for a premium.
Some of Lille’s players who had gone on to impress football lovers in the world of football, and also achieved great things in top teams in Europe had at one point in time passed through the ranks of the ‘Les Dogues‘.
Clubs that adopts the policy of securing young players cheaply, developing them into top-notch players before going on to sell them for a premium fee, are teams such as Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, and Southampton. To name a few who do that often is Lille OSC.
Les Dogues, unlike the big spenders of the French Ligue 1 PSG, have had to live on their wits by picking up bargain signings from other teams for relatively cheap money before selling them for big money.
A means to rack up good profit in other to balance the book at the club, and also help in running the club for sustainability and effectiveness.
In recent times, Lille’s top talent or homebred players has always been noticeable by top clubs in Europe for their great talents and abilities.
As such when the big teams come calling, the club listen so far they come with a premium fee for the services of player they want. And with that, they continually developed a reputation of a team that supply European teams with talented players.
Today, we look at some of Lille OSC players who had become major signings for top teams
- Rafael Leao – (Lille OSC – AC Milan, €35M)
For a player that joined the French side on a free transfer from Sporting Lisbon in 2018. It’s no surprise that the Portuguese would move on to a big team once he starts his Lille career on a great path, and surprisingly he scored in his second appearance match, playing 67 minutes and helping Les Dogues to defeat Stade Caen 1-0.
Following his outstanding performances in his first debut season, scoring 8 goals in 24 games to earn himself a dream move to AC Milan for a reported fee of €35m to add to the huge numbers of players that joined for a cheap price and eventually left the club for a huge price.
- Eden Hazard – (Lille OSC – Chelsea, €35M)
Hazard, now don the white jersey of Real Madrid, but before going on to join the Spanish giant the Belgian forward was also part of the players that have passed through the four walls of Stade Pierre Mauroy in 2005. Where he was developed at the academy before becoming a top-class player in 2010 as a 19-year-old that was been sought after by various top teams in Europe.
Unsurprisingly he was part of the very proficient Lille OSC team that won the Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France in 2010-11 season, before moving to Chelsea in 2012 as the most expensive sale in the history of Lille OSC as at then. The Belgian playmaker is a player that would go on to achieve great things if he keeps his game in top form.
- Thiago Mendes – (Lille OSC – Lyon, €22M)
It was an exodus switching of teams for some of the Lille’s players, as it wasn’t only Nicolas Pepe, and Rafael Leao that left the Ligue 1 team. The Brazilian also followed suit and after an impressive performance for Lille.
With the reputation, Lille OSC and it’s management have carved out for themselves in signing players for a cheap price and selling them for huge money when they matured into a top player also came to fore when they signed Mendes from Brazil.
The 27-year-old Brazilian joined Lille in 2017 from Sao Paulo on a five-year contract. A deal worth around €9 million, and after just 65 games for the Les Dogues, Mendes’s value in the market increases and he finally moved to Lyon for a whopping €22 million which was a good business for Lille considering the amount of money they got him from Sao Paulo.
- Yohan Cabaye – (Lille OSC – Newcastle, £5M)
The French midfielder was just 12 years old when he was scouted by Lille, he spent over six years in the club’s academy before progressing to the first team where he played in UEFA Champions League helping his team defeat Manchester United. He participated in the 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup, which Lille won, he was also part of the squad that won a double in the 2010-11 campaign.
At the end of the season in which they won the double, it was evident that Cabaye is destined to play for a big club outside France, as such Newcastle came calling by activating a clause in his contract which allowed him to joined the Tyneside for £5 million which was a sensible deal for ‘Les Dogues’, following an impressive season with Lille.
- Mathieu Debuchy – (Lille OSC – Newcastle, £5M)
Debuchy began his professional career with Lille, having joined Les Dogues at the age of eight from his hometown team Union Sportive Fretin, after spending most of his youth age in developing himself in Lille’s youth team. He was promoted to the senior team in the 2003-04 season, and he went on to play in Ligue 1 for over 10 seasons, before winning the double with Lille in the 2010-11 season.
In January 2013, Debuchy joined Newcastle United on a five and half year contract, a deal believed to be in a region of £5 million, following his good performances at the Euros in 2012. As the Frenchman’s departure to Newcastle further laid claim to the reputation Les Dogues has built for themselves as a club who nurture or sign players for cheap money and sell them off for big money.
- Lucas Digne – (Lille OSC – PSG, €15M)
Digne was also one of Lille’s youth product that was sold for a relatively decent amount of money. He started playing from the B team before he was promoted to the senior team permanently, he got his first debut in 2011 in a 6-1 victory against Sedan in the last 16 of the Coupe de la Ligue.
Paris Saint Germain came calling for Digne in 2013 after been spotted as the right replacement or a good back up for the Brazilian Maxwell. After all said and done with the negotiations, Lille agreed to part ways with their youth product for a fee of around €15m.
- Gervinho – (Lille OSC – Arsenal, £10.8M)
Gervinho’s poor run of form at Le Mans in 2009 couldn’t push away suitable teams from signing the Ivorian forward even at his worst form. However, on the 21st of July 2009, he was signed by Lille for a fee worth around £6 million, penning a three year deal with the Ligue 1 outfit.
Lille, was where his career started properly, winning the league and Coupe de France for Lille in 142 appearances and scored 45 goals during his stint with Les Dogues. In 2011, following a fantastic season with Lille, Gervinho was signed by Arsenal for £10.8m.
The now Parma forward Gervinho labeled the Gunners as the only club to have the biggest influence on his career, and his two years stint with the Gunners comes with 11 goals in 63 appearances.
- Divock Origi – (Lille – Liverpool, £10M)
The Belgian International also began his career at Lille as a youth player, before he was promoted to the senior team following his professional debut. He scored his first goal for Les Dogues, and after a year and a half later with the Ligue 1 outfit, he was sold in 2014.
Lille’s usual selling off their star players came to fore again when Liverpool come knocking. In July 2014, the Premier League side announced the signing of the Belgian forward on a five-year deal and was immediately loaned back to Lille for the 2014-15 campaign, as Lille once again made a huge profit on a player they nurtured from the academy.
- Moussa Sow – (Lille OSC – Fenerbahce, €26.3M)
Sow arrived in Turkey capital Istanbul following Senegal’s elimination from the African Cup of Nations, with both parties Lille and Fenerbahce already concluded the negotiations of the Senegalese forward to join the Turkish giant.
When Lille announced a pre-contract agreement with Sow for free from Rennes, no one ever thought he was going to be a player that would fit seamlessly well in the team and go on to light up the Ligue 1 with goals, and even going on to win a double with Lille.
When Sow joined Les Dogues, he was seen as a player with no real goalscoring record, but when he started painting Ligue 1 with goals Rennes’s loss now proved to be Lille’s gain by scoring at a rate of nearly one goal for every 100 league minutes he played for Les Dogues.
- Nicolas Pepe – (Lille OSC – Arsenal, €80M)
Following Marcelo Bielsa scouting, he discovered a great talent in Pepe at Angers after just one season in the French top flight, so in 2017 Lille OSC lured the Ivorian away from the jaw of FC Angers for a transfer fee worth around €10 million, signing a five year deal with Lille OSC.
Nicolas Pepe was one of the revelations of the Ligue 1 in the 2018-19 season before leaving for Arsenal following his outstanding performances in the league, scoring 22 times and assisted 11 goals in that season for Lille OSC. Which prompted a lot of top clubs in Europe to wants to sign the Ivorian forward, but in the end, Pepe ended up joining the Gunners for a mouthwatering fee that the team from the Northern side of France couldn’t turn down.
- Victor Osimhen – (Lille OSC – Napoli, €80M)
The latest player to leave the Stade Pierre Mauroy is Victor Osimhen, who has just moved to Naples for a deal totaling €80 million. A mouthwatering deal that made the Nigeria forward ranks as the most expensive player in Nigeria and remains the latest to be traded by Lille for huge money in the transfer market.
Osimhen was signed by Lille OSC in 2019, from Belgian side Charleroi for a fee reported to be around €15million, and for a young player that was signed for a decent amount. Nigeria forward didn’t waste much time in hitting the ground running as he went on to establish himself as one of Lille’s top player and highest goalscorer in his first season, before moving to join Napoli this season.
Since the turn of a brilliant season in the Ligue 1 for Lille OSC in the 2010-11 campaign. Perhaps if they hadn’t cash on each of the aforementioned players, they could have been rank among the elite team in Europe with great players to compete in the league and also in the money-spinning UEFA Champions League.
But as it stands Les Dogues have built a great reputation in signing cheaply and selling for a premium, which made them a team, where top clubs in Europe sees as a talent ground where they could get their needed product.
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.