Fabien Barthez at the 2006 World Cup

United's French Reds

September 2015 was a landmark month in the life of Anthony Martial.

The then-19-year-old signed for United on the first day of the month, made his senior international debut for France against Portugal on the fourth, then made his magical Reds debut on the 12th.

When he replaced Karim Benzema in that 1-0 friendly win away to Portugal, he became the ninth Manchester United player to have represented Les Bleus at senior level.

With Martial aiming to add to his 18 caps in the forthcoming Nations League games, here is the list of French internationals to have also played for United…

LAURENT BLANC (97 CAPS, 16 GOALS)

Old Trafford proved to be the final stop on the legendary centre-back’s professional playing career, arriving at United in 2001 at the age of 35 to bring a wealth of experience to a defence that had just lost Jaap Stam. Blanc came to Manchester as the reigning World and European champion at international level, although he famously missed the World Cup final against Brazil in Paris in 1998 through suspension, having been sent off in the semi-final versus Croatia. Blanc is joint-eighth on the list of most-capped French Players.

FABIEN BARTHEZ (87 CAPS)

Barthez made his international debut in 1994, and was the established France no.1 – and also a World and European champion – by the time he signed for United six years later. Latterly joined by old friend and international team-mate Laurent Blanc, and alongside Mikael Silvestre, he was at Old Trafford for three-and-a-half years before returning to his homeland to play for Marseille.

PATRICE EVRA (81 CAPS)

The legendary left-back had a chequered experience of international football in his 12 years representing Les Bleus at senior level. He made his debut against Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2004 at the age of 23, but was in and out of the team over the next few years, with Eric Abidal, William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre also competing for the left-back slot. Having been left out of the 2006 World Cup squad, he was a part of the France side in Euro 2008 that failed to make it out of the group stage, and worse was to follow at the World Cup of 2010. Installed as captain in advance of the tournament in South Africa, he was at the centre of a controversy that resulted in him being stripped of the captaincy and banned for five internationals. He was recalled to the side by new boss Laurent Blanc and went on to appear in the Euro 2012 and World Cup 2014 – France reaching the quarter-finals in both tournaments – and was a key part of the team that reached the final of Euro 2016, only losing to Portugal in the final.

Evra played alongside Pogba for France.

PAUL POGBA (69 CAPS, 10 GOALS)

Pogba shone at youth level for France and was captain when they lifted the U20 World Cup in 2013, a few months after he had made his senior international debut against Georgia. He was named the Best Young Player at the 2014 World Cup in Germany, was a key figure in France’s run to the final of Euro 2016 and famously went one better in the next major tournament, winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia and scoring in the 4-2 final win over Croatia.

ERIC CANTONA (45 CAPS, 20 GOALS)

Like Evra a few years later, Eric Cantona experienced his fair share of run-ins with the French football establishment during a turbulent spell representing his country. He was handed his debut by manager Henri Michel against West Germany in August 1987 while playing for Auxerre, scoring on that debut. However, when he was dropped from the senior side a year later, his colourful reaction to Henri Michel saw him indefinitely banned from international football. He was restored to the squad by new manager Michel Platini in 1990 and represented France in Euro 1992 in Sweden. By the time qualification for Euro 96 had begun, Cantona had been named France captain by latest manager Aime Jacquet, but his famous suspension in 1995 also applied to international football, and the subsequent emergence of Zinedine Zidane meant his France international career was effectively ended, much to his frustration.

Eric Cantona
Eric was United's first French player.

MIKAEL SILVESTRE (40 CAPS, 2 GOALS)
LOUIS SAHA (20 CAPS, 4 GOALS)
ANTHONY MARTIAL (18 CAPS/1 GOAL)
MORGAN SCHNEIDERLIN (15 CAPS/0 GOALS)

In case you were wondering, there are three French players who’ve represented United but not their country at senior level – William Prunier, David Bellion and Gabriel Obertan.

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