Following the appointment of Claude Puel as Southampton’s new manager, we take a look at the eleven Frenchmen who have played for Saints in the post-war era.
From Patrick Colleter to Dany N’Guessan, the journey across the channel has become more frequent over the past decade, although no French player other than Morgan Schneiderlin has represented Saints in the Premier League since the club’s return to the top-flight.
Here are the eleven players in order of arrival at Saints:
Patrick Colleter – joined Saints in 1998 for £300,000 from Olympique Marseille. The left back made 24 appearances for the club and scored one goal – a long range strike in a 3-1 win over Charlton Athletic at The Dell. He moved back to France with Cannes in November 2000.
Fabrice Fernandes – joined Saints in 2001 from Rennes. Southampton was not Fernandes’ first English club however, with the winger having also played for Fulham on loan. At Saints, he made 91 appearances and scored five times, as well as collecting a runners-up medal in the FA Cup final of 2003.
Eric Hassli – joined Saints on loan in 2002. Returned to parent club Metz after scoring two goals in eight reserve matches without playing for the first team.
Léandre Griffit – joined Saints from French side Amiens SC in 2003. Played only seven times for Southampton, scoring two goals. He made loan moves to Leeds United and Rotherham before being released in 2005.
Yoann Folly – joined Saints in 2003 from Saint-Étienne for a fee of £250,000. Folly made 14 appearances for the team and was loaned out to both Nottingham Forest and Preston North End before pitching up at Sheffield Wednesday in 2006. Then manager Paul Sturrock had been impressed by him during his own time at St Mary’s.
Olivier Bernard – joined Saints in 2005 on a five-month contract after leaving Newcastle United. He made 13 appearances in the second half of the team’s unsuccessful bid to avoid relegation and left in May to join Glasgow Rangers on a permanent basis.
Grégroy Vignal – joined Saints on a season-long loan from RC Lens in 2007. The former Portsmouth full back scored four goals in 23 appearances and went on to make a permanent move back to England with Birmingham City in the following season.
Vincent Péricard – joined Saints on loan from Stoke City in 2008. The striker spent the last few months of the season at St Mary’s where he played five games as part of the team’s successful fight against relegation.
Morgan Schneiderlin – joined Saints aged 18 from RC Strasbourg in July 2008. An energetic and combative midfielder, Schneiderlin grew with the club during seven years of progress, which saw him gain international recognition in that time too. He moved to Manchester United in 2015 for a substantial transfer fee.
Romain Gasmi – joined Saints on loan from RC Strasbourg in 2008 to be reunited with former teammate Morgan Schneiderlin. Returned to his parent club after making four appearances for the team in the 2008/09 season.
Dany N’Guessan – joined Saints on loan from Leicester City in 2011. The winger/forward spent the final six months of the club’s promotion season out of League 1 at St Mary’s playing six times before returning to the Midlands.