Gabriel Magalhaes looks set to complete a move to the Premier League in the coming days having agreed terms on a switch to Arsenal, the defender the latest player to come off a production line of talent at Lille.
The French side have developed a reputation as a brilliantly well-ran football club, possessing an excellent record in terms of academy graduates and a recruitment team which has unearthed some notable gems in recent years.
Lille have regularly developed players before selling them on for substantial profits as they bid to compete with French football’s biggest clubs, with Premier League sides having often raided the Ligue 1 outfit for their finest talents.
Ahead of Gabriel’s impending move to the Emirates, we’ve decided to look back at five of the best players Premier League clubs have signed from Lille:
Lille have been crowned as champions of France on just three occasions throughout their history, with the club’s most recent success coming as part of a domestic double during the 2010/11 season.
That historic campaign saw Lille win Ligue 1 for the first time in more than half a century, their leading talents beginning to attract attention from Europe following a series of impressive performances.
Amongst their key personnel was Yohan Cabaye, the midfielder departing at the end of the season to join Newcastle United on a long-term contract for a bargain fee of just £4m.
Cabaye swiftly cemented himself as a firm fans’ favourite in the North East and helped the club to a surprise fifth-placed finish during his debut campaign, forming an excellent midfield partnership with Cheick Tioté as Newcastle pushed towards Champions League qualification.
The midfield maestro pulled the strings for the Magpies but the club’s failure to build on that promising season saw him agitate for a move away, returning to France with Paris Saint-Germain and winning two league titles with the capital club.
Cabaye enjoyed a second stint in the Premier League with a three-year spell at Crystal Palace and brought a touch of class to Selhurst Park, though his finest performances were arguably in the black and white of Newcastle as the creative hub of the best side of the Mike Ashley era.
The most successful of Lille’s long list of exports, Eden Hazard became one of the Premier League’s very best during seven seasons of silverware at Chelsea.
Hazard had starred during Lille’s domestic double-winning campaign to be named as Ligue 1’s Player of the Season, before winning the accolade once more the following year to spark a scramble for his signature amongst Europe’s leading clubs.
Reigning European champions Chelsea sealed a deal in the region of £32m for the Belgian winger, a fee that proved money well spent during a memorable spell at Stamford Bridge that saw Hazard become one of the club’s finest players of the Premier League era.
Hazard won two Premier League titles, both domestic cups and two Europa League trophies during a glittering career in English football, being named as the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year during the first of those title-winning seasons.
His low-centre of gravity and captivating close control made the star one of the most exciting talents in England’s top tier, a breathtaking talent when running at opposition defences in full flight.
The inspiration behind many of Chelsea’s triumphs over the past decade, Hazard was named as the club’s Player of the Season on four occasions, scoring 110 goals in 352 appearances before a mega-money move to Real Madrid last summer.
Divock Origi burst onto the scene after scoring as a teenager for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup, his performances prompting Liverpool to sign the Lille prospect in a £10m deal following the tournament.
Origi spent the following season on loan at Lille before making the move to Merseyside, where he has navigated some troublesome periods to establish himself as a bonafide Liverpool cult hero.
The Belgian has bounced back from falling out-of-favour and being shipped on loan to Wolfsburg to establish himself a niche as Jurgen Klopp’s quintessential ‘plan B’, his penchant for scoring goals of great importance endearing him to the Reds’ supporters.
Origi has regularly thrived in the hostility of a Merseyside derby and possesses a fine goalscoring record against city rivals Everton, whilst his role in Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in 2019 – scoring twice against Barcelona in the semi-finals and once more against Tottenham in the showpiece – means he will forever be a part of the club’s history.
The 25-year-old is a talented but frustrating figure and whilst he may never fulfil the early potential he once showed, he has been a fine back-up option in a period of trophy success at Anfield.
Idrissa Gana Gueye
Aston Villa secured the signing of Idrissa Gueye from Lille as the club sought the strengthen their defensive midfield options, the ball-winning abilities of the Senegalese international adding a new dimension to the club’s midfield.
Gueye finished behind only N’Golo Kante for tackles during his debut season but was unable to prevent Villa’s slip into the Championship, Everton activating the player’s release clause and securing themselves a bargain buy at just £7.1m.
Gueye finished in the division’s top two tacklers in each of his four seasons in English football, bringing a tenacity and energy to the midfield with his pressing ability perfectly suited to the demands of the Premier League.
Perhaps largely under-appreciated away from Goodison Park, his performances soon attracted interest from Europe’s biggest clubs and Paris Saint-Germain secured his signing following a protracted chase, the midfielder winning a domestic double during his debut season in the French capital.
Nicolas Pepe’s star showings for Lille saw the winger become Arsenal’s club-record signing last summer, the north London side splashing a staggering £72m to sign the Ivory Coast international.
Pepe had established himself as one of the finest footballers in the division during his final season in France, scoring 22 goals – a tally only bettered by Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe – and providing a further 11 assists for Lille.
The Ivorian is quick, direct and possesses a sense of unpredictability required in all good wide men, preferring to cut inside on his stronger left foot from a position out on the right flank.
His debut season has proven difficult as he has struggled under the weight of expectation and demands of English football, though the 25-year-old has shown glimpses of his evident talent and a tally of nine goals and eight assists in all competitions is a respectable haul despite the critics.
Arsenal will, however, expect improvement from their record signing following a season of adaptation, with Pepe hoping to play an influential role in a new-look Gunners side under the guidance of Mikel Arteta next season.