Lucas Digne with PSG
UEFA Europa League

Aston Villa's French Connection

Aston Villa's French Connection

UEFA Europa League
Publish on 04/11 at 13:00 - E. DEVIN


As LOSC Lille get set to face Aston Villa in the UEFA Europa Conference League, we look at the English club's many links to Ligue 1.

As LOSC Lille get set to face Aston Villa this evening in the first of their double-legged UEFA Europa Conference League quarterfinal tie, the Birmingham-based club will welcome Les Dogues with plenty of familiar faces, from the bench to the pitch:

Unai Emery, Manager, Paris Saint-Germain 2016-18

The Spaniard, who has been incredibly successful in his native country with each of Valencia, Sevilla and Villarreal, had a rather more mixed tenure in France. In his first season, he was pipped to the league title thanks to an epic campaign by AS Monaco. He would rebound with a treble the following season, but his missteps in the Champions League looked to have cost him his place at the Parc des Princes. Since returning to England in 2022, he has had a massive influence on the venerable club, propelling them to a relegation fight to Europe in the span of a season. He now has them well-positioned for a Champions League spot, and they are arguably the favorite in the Conference League, strong evidence of his tactical nous.

Diego Carlos, Defender, FC Nantes 2016-19

The embodiment of the modern central defender, Carlos combines mobility with physicality and a fine reading of the game. He arrived in France an unheralded player, but has since gone on to a fine career, including picking up Olympic gold in 2020 and winning the Europa League with Sevilla in his first season in Spain. After three seasons there, he joined Villa in 2022, and while he has struggled with injury, he's been a solid addition when fit.

Moussa Diaby, Winger, Paris Saint-Germain 2018-19

Diaby was a player full of promise before leaving the French capital, notching six assists in just over a thousand minutes, but the presence of players like Neymar and Ángel Di María meant that his path to the first team was consistently blocked. Since leaving for Bayer Leverkusen and (since 2023) Villa, he has blossomed, becoming a full French international and being named to the Bundesliga team of the season.

Lucas Digne, Defender, LOSC Lille 2011-13, Paris Saint-Germain 2013-15

Digne's emergence as a teenager with Lille was meteoric, and his strong play in the north of France saw him join PSG off the back of their first Ligue 1 title under QSI. He struggled for playing time in the capital, often being second choice behind Maxwell, and moved to Barcelona after a season on loan at Roma. Playing time was also scarce in Catalonia, but since joining Everton in 2018, he has been one of the Premier League's best left backs, earning plaudits from teammates and coaches alike.

Boubacar Kamara, Midfielder, Olympique de Marseille, 2017-22

Kamara rose to prominence at the Stade Vélodrôme at a young age, a combative and crafty midfielder who impressed despite no small amount of managerial churn. Now with Villa for two seasons, he has struggled at times with injury, but has also been a regular when fit and even earned his first senior caps for France.

Clément Lenglet, Defender, AS Nancy, 2016-17

Lenglet is only on loan at Villa, having arrived in the summer from Barcelona, but has been vital in adding depth to Emery's defence. He initially left France for Sevilla, where he impressed before moving to the Camp Nou, where he's helped his side win both the league and the Copa del Rey, before spending successive loan spells in England.

Youri Tielemans, Midfielder, AS Monaco, 2017-19

The Belgian international joined the Principality side after their 2017 title, becoming a nominal replacement for Tiemoué Bakayoko. Despite impressing in his season-and-a-half at the Stade-Louis II, he was sold on to Leicester City. After helping the Foxes play in Europe and win the FA Cup, he joined Villa following their relegation, and has been a regular under Emery.

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