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Best German players in Ligue 1

Ligue 1, the premier professional football league in France, has established a reputation for attracting elite talent from all corners of the globe, and German footballers have certainly not been an exception. We will be listing and talking about the best German players in Ligue 1 at the time of writing this article in April 2023.

Over the years, numerous German players have made their mark in this fiercely competitive league, showcasing their skills as goal scorers, defenders, and more.

In this piece, we’ll be focusing on some of the most skilled German players that are playing in Ligue 1 right now, examining their backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, and the impact they’ve had on their teams.

One thing to keep in mind is that we didn’t include players who have a contract with a Ligue 1 team but are currently playing for another non-Ligue 1 squad on loan, such as Julian Draxler, who is playing for Benfica on loan from PSG and Moritz Jenz who is playing for Schalke 04 on loan from Lorient.

Greatest German Players in Ligue 1

The list of best German players in Ligue 1 we have come up with includes players that are playing in Ligue 1 right now in 2023 and not the best German players of all time to play in that league.

Therefore, it’s a rather short list. Nonetheless, we hope you’ll find this article interesting. But first, let’s talk a bit about Ligue 1 in France.

What is Ligue 1?

What is Ligue 1?

Ligue 1 is the main professional football league in France for men’s teams and is officially called Ligue 1 Uber Eats due to sponsorship. It is run by the Ligue de Football Professionnel and has 20 teams competing, with a system of promotion and relegation to and from Ligue 2.

The season runs from August to May, with each club playing 38 matches – one home and one away – against the other teams in the league. The majority of games take place on weekends, with some during weekday evenings, and there is a two-week break in December.

Ligue 1 is currently ranked fifth in Europe behind the leagues of England, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

Ligue 1 was originally called National when it started in 1932, then became Division 1 before adopting its current name in 2002. Paris Saint-Germain and AS Saint-Étienne are the most successful clubs with ten league titles each, while Olympique Lyonnais holds the record for the most consecutive titles.

Olympique de Marseille has appeared in most seasons of Ligue 1, while Paris Saint-Germain holds the record for consecutive seasons. FC Nantes holds various records, including the longest unbeaten streak and the fewest number of defeats in a single season.

Paris Saint-Germain emerged as the winners of the 2021-22 season, thereby holding the title of current champions.

AS Monaco, a club based outside of France, has won the league several times, which gives the competition a cross-border aspect. The size of Ligue 1 is set to decrease to 18 clubs prior to the 2023-24 season.

Now that we have a general understanding of the French league, let’s dive into our list of best German players in Ligue 1.

Julian Pollersbeck

Julian Pollersbeck

Julian Pollersbeck, born on August 16, 1994, is a professional football player from Germany who currently serves as a goalkeeper for Lorient, a Ligue 1 club. He is on loan from Lyon.

Pollersbeck began his career at Wacker Burghausen academy and later joined 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the 2. Bundesliga, where he made a name for himself. He joined Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga in 2017 but struggled to impress, and the team was relegated.

In September 2020, he signed with Lyon, where he served as backup to Anthony Lopes. Pollersbeck has also represented Germany’s under-21 team, making seven appearances. He grew up in Emmerting in Upper Bavaria and played for DJK Emmerting before joining Wacker Burghausen at 16.

From 2011-2012, he was part of the under-19 team in the Under-19 Bayern League and the second men’s team in the sixth-tier Landesliga Bayern.

After moving to Kaiserslautern in 2013, he moved up to the first-team squad in 2014 and received a professional contract in November of that year.

He made his professional debut in the 2. Bundesliga in 2016 and stayed in goal even after regular goalkeeper Andre Weis returned from suspension. Pollersbeck’s contract with Kaiserslautern ran until 2020.

In the 2017-18 season, Pollersbeck joined Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga and signed a four-year contract. During pre-season, he competed with Christian Mathenia for the starting goalkeeper position but made mistakes in test matches, leading to goals conceded.

As a result, Mathenia was chosen as the starter by coach Markus Gisdol. Pollersbeck briefly lost his place as the backup in November 2017 due to poor form and played for the second team to gain experience.

Struggling to Earn the Position

best German players in Ligue 1 - Julian Pollersbeck

However, he regained his spot as the starting goalkeeper after winter break and made his Bundesliga debut in January 2018. Under the new coach Bernd Hollerbach, he lost his place to Mathenia again but regained it once Christian Titz became the coach.

Pollersbeck played 10 Bundesliga games and helped HSV avoid relegation. In the 2018-19 season, he kept his starting place and made 31 league appearances, but was rated the worst goalkeeper by kicker sports magazine. HSV finished in 4th place and missed out on promotion.

Pollersbeck signed a four-year contract with Hamburger SV for the 2017-18 season but struggled to secure the starting goalkeeper spot. He lost out to Christian Mathenia before eventually replacing him after the winter preparations.

Pollersbeck made 10 Bundesliga appearances that season, during which HSV was relegated to the 2. Bundesliga. In the 2018-19 season, he made 31 appearances and finished 12 games without conceding a goal but was rated poorly by kicker sports magazine.

Before the 2019-20 season, Pollersbeck was demoted to the third goalkeeper and injured himself during winter break. He returned to team practice in February and played the last six league games.

After two seasons with HSV, he joined Olympique Lyonnais in September 2020 and made his debut in March 2021. On January 31, 2023, Pollersbeck joined Ligue 1 club Lorient on loan until the end of the season.

Pollersbeck is also one of the very few German players in Ligue 1 right now and as a result, he is one of the best German players in Ligue 1.

Jerome Boateng

Jerome Boateng

Jerome Agyenim Boateng, who was born on September 3, 1988, is a German professional football player who serves as a center-back for Lyon, a French Ligue 1 club. He is considered one of the best German players in Ligue 1. Boateng began his career at Hertha BSC, where he rose through the youth ranks to make it to the first team.

Following his debut season, he moved to Hamburger SV, where he became an essential part of the squad, helping them reach two consecutive UEFA Europa League semi-finals.

After a brief stint in England with Manchester City, he joined Bayern Munich in 2011, where he won numerous domestic and European honors with the team, including the continental treble in the 2012-13 and 2019-20 seasons.

His contract expired on June 30, 2021, and he subsequently became a free agent before choosing to sign with Lyon.

Boateng was a member of the Germany under-21 team that won the 2009 Euro U-21 Championship and was quickly promoted to the national team.

Boateng amassed over 70 caps and has represented Germany at UEFA Euro 2012, Euro 2016, 2010 World Cup, 2014 World Cup, and 2018 World Cup.

He was a crucial member of his country’s triumph in the 2014 World Cup. Kevin-Prince Boateng, his older half-brother, is also a professional footballer.

His Play Style and Personal Life

Jerome Boateng

Boateng is a flexible defender who mainly plays as a center-back, but he is also capable of playing as a right-back. He possesses impressive physical strength and remains composed when in possession of the ball.

He has earned a reputation as a defender who is tough in tackles, has excellent passing skills, and can anticipate the game. Some analysts initially criticized him for his defensive errors despite his early promise.

Nevertheless, he later emerged as one of the top defenders globally and is now one of the best German players in Ligue 1.

Also, a bit about his personal life, Boateng, who was born in Berlin to a German mother named Martina Boateng and a Ghanaian father, is of Ghanaian German heritage.

Boateng was in a committed relationship with Sherin Senler for a significant period and had twin daughters with her. They separated for a while but reconciled in November 2013, although their relationship remained unstable.

Boateng was accused of having an affair with model Gina-Lisa Lohfink, which both he and Lohfink denied. He also fathered a son in 2015.

In 2019, Boateng began dating Kasia Lenhardt, a Polish-born model. However, their relationship became tumultuous after Lenhardt crashed Boateng’s Mini Cooper and was charged with driving under the influence.

Boateng accused Lenhardt of sabotaging a previous relationship and blackmailing him to stay with her. After the public spat, Boateng announced their separation in February 2021. A week later, Lenhardt was found dead in an apartment in Berlin, with investigators believing it was suicide.

At the time, Boateng was playing in the FIFA Club World Cup with Bayern Munich in Qatar, and he left the country due to personal reasons.

Boateng is currently engaged to his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Rebecca Silvera.

Kevin Volland

best German players in Ligue 1 - Kevin Volland

Kevin Volland is a professional football player from Germany who currently plays for Monaco in Ligue 1 and the German national team. He is known for his skills as a striker and winger and is known to be one of the best German players in Ligue 1.

Volland made a name for himself at the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship where he was awarded the Silver Boot.

Volland began his football career with FC Thalhofen before moving on to FC Memmingen’s C-Youth squad. He then joined TSG Thannhausen to remain in a higher division after his previous team’s relegation in 2006.

Volland joined 1860 Munich’s youth academy in the summer of 2007 and played for their U19 team during the 2009-10 season. He made his senior team debut in the 2. Bundesliga on 26 September 2010 and later signed with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in January 2011.

He played for 1899 Hoffenheim during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, scoring a total of 15 goals and contributing 20 assists. He then joined Bayer Leverkusen in May 2016 on a five-year deal for a club-record transfer fee of €18 million.

Volland signed a contract with Monaco in September 2020 and scored his first two goals for the team in November of that year. Being one of the best German players in Ligue 1, in the first match of the 2021-22 season, he scored a goal for Monaco in the Champions League with an assist from Sofiane Diop.

His International Career

Kevin Volland

Volland made his debut for the German U17 squad on 16 October 2008, starting against the Czech Republic and also starting in the following match against Russia.

He was later called up for the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria, where he scored his first goal for the team against Honduras and also played in the round of 16 loss to Switzerland.

He received his first call-up to the German U18 squad in July 2009 and played in all three matches in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup, scoring against Northern Ireland, the United States, and Bulgaria.

Volland debuted for the U19 team in August 2010 and scored his first goal against the Netherlands in September. He played in a total of eight matches for the team, scoring five goals.

In August and October 2011, Volland played for the German U20 and U21 squads, respectively, but had to withdraw from the latter due to an injury. He eventually made his U21 debut in February 2012 in a match against Greece.

In June 2015, Volland captained the German U21 team at the 2015 European Championship in the Czech Republic, where he scored two goals and provided one assist, earning the Silver Boot and a spot in the team of the tournament.

Volland made his debut for the senior German national team in May 2014 in a friendly against Poland and was included in the preliminary roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but did not make the final squad.

He scored his first international goal in a 2018 World Cup qualification match against San Marino in November 2016.

After a successful club season with Monaco, Volland was selected for the German squad for UEFA Euro 2020. He is one of the top German players in Ligue 1.

Alexander Nubel

best German players in Ligue 1 - Alexander Nubel

Alexander Nubel, who was born on September 30, 1996, is a German football player who serves as a goalkeeper for Monaco in the French Ligue 1 and is considered one of the best foreign players in Ligue 1.

He is currently on loan from Bayern Munich. Nubel was raised in Salzkotten-Tudorf, which is situated in East Westphalia.

He started playing football at TSV Tudorf and later joined SC Paderborn’s youth academy in 2005. Initially, he played as an outfield player until he reached the under-14 level.

In the 2014-2015 season, Nubel was promoted to Paderborn’s professional team, but he did not get any playing time that season.

Nubel joined Schalke 04 and played for their second team in the Regionalliga West. He made his debut in the Bundesliga on May 14, 2016, when he came on as a substitute for Ralf Fahrmann after 90 minutes against TSG Hoffenheim.

Initially, Nubel was Fahrmann’s backup goalkeeper at the start of the season. He later made his debut in the Champions League on October 24, 2018, in a 0-0 draw against Galatasaray.

After the winter break, the head coach, Domenico Tedesco, replaced Fahrmann with Nubel as Schalke’s first-choice goalkeeper.

However, in a match against Borussia Monchengladbach on February 2, 2019, Nubel received a straight red card and was suspended for the next two Bundesliga matches.

After this incident, he was selected as the first-choice goalkeeper for Schalke, except for the two matches he was suspended for.

Becoming the Captain

Alexander Nubel
credit: twitter

On August 6, 2019, Nubel was named the club’s new captain by the head coach, David Wagner, and he entered the season with one year left on his contract with Schalke. However, on December 22, 2019, he informed the club that he would not be renewing his contract.

On January 4, 2020, Nubel agreed to join Bayern Munich on a free transfer at the end of the season and handed over the captaincy to Omar Mascarell.

Nubel became a player for Bayern Munich on 30 June 2020. His first appearance for the club was in the first round of the DFB-Pokal on 15 October, in which Bayern beat 1. FC Duren by a score of 3-0.

He also made his Champions League debut on 1 December 2020 in an away draw against Atletico Madrid, and his Bundesliga debut on 15 May 2021 in an away draw against Freiburg.

Later, on 27 June 2021, Nubel was loaned to Monaco for a period of two seasons, and Bayern had the option to end the loan after one season. He is currently one of the best German players in Ligue 1.

German players in Ligue 1 That are Playing for Other National Teams

We decided to include players of German origins in Ligue 1 of France who are playing for teams other than the German national squad as well.

Ismail Jakobs

Ismail Jakobs

Ismail Jakobs, born on August 17, 1999, is a professional footballer who plays as a left winger or left back for Monaco, a team in Ligue 1.

He was born in Germany and plays for the Senegal national team, as his father is of Senegalese descent. Jakobs began his career with BC Bliesheim before joining 1.FC Koln’s youth academy in 2012.

He worked his way up the ranks, eventually joining Koln’s U21 team in the fourth-tier Regionalliga West in 2017. In preparation for the 2019-20 season, Jakobs was promoted to Köln’s first team under the leadership of manager Achim Beierlorzer.

Ismail made his debut against TSG Hoffenheim on November 8, 2019, and scored his first professional goal in a 2-4 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt on December 18, 2019. In March 2020, Koln announced that Jakobs had extended his contract until 2022.

Later that year, in October, he signed another extension that would keep him at Köln until July 2024. Jakobs was transferred to AS Monaco, a team in Ligue 1, on July 12, 2021. He signed a contract that would keep him at the club until 2026.

He made his debut for the team on August 3, in a 2-0 win against Sparta Prague during the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.

Jakobs is one of the only German players in Ligue 1 and for that reason, he is one of the best German players in Ligue 1 as well. On August 21, 2020, Jakobs was nominated for Germany’s under-21 national team by manager Stefan Kuntz.

Edon Zhegrova

Edon Zhegrova

Edon Lulzim Zhegrova, who was born on 31 March 1999, is a professional footballer playing as a right winger for Ligue 1 team Lille and is recognized as one of the best Ligue 1 players. He was born in Germany and currently represents the Kosovo national team.

Zhegrova developed his skills in youth teams of various Kosovan and Belgian clubs. He was recognized as the best player of the Milan Junior Camp held in Kosovo in 2012.

Zhegrova joined the Belgian First Division A team Genk on 22 March 2017. He made his debut on 10 September 2017 in a 1-1 draw against Gent as a substitute for Ruslan Malinovskyi in the 80th minute.

Genk announced Zhegrova’s loan move to Swiss Super League side Basel on 4 February 2019. The Swiss club confirmed the loan on the same day for one and a half seasons, with Zhegrova receiving squad number 30.

On 23 February 2019, he made his debut as a substitute in a 2-0 away victory against Neuchatel Xamax, replacing Valentin Stocker in the 83rd minute.

Zhegrova scored his first goal for Basel on 25 September 2019, in a 4-0 home win against Zurich, which was also the third goal of the game.

Joining Lille

best German players in Ligue 1 - Edon Zhegrova

Zhegrova joined Basel, a Swiss Super League club, on 22 September 2020, signing a three-year contract and receiving the number 30 shirt. He played his first match for Basel on 27 September and scored his first goal for the club on 4 October.

Zhegrova transferred to French team Lille OSC on 14 January 2022 for an undisclosed fee, after playing a total of 89 games and scoring 15 goals during his time at Basel. He signed a four-year contract with Lille and was given the number 23 shirt.

Zhegrova made his debut for Lille on 6 February 2022 as a substitute, scoring his first goal for the team on 6 March during a 4-0 home win over Clermont. He is now one of the best German players in Ligue 1.

He refused a call-up from Kosovo U21 in August 2017, citing his focus on club-level play, but eventually decided to play for Kosovo and made his debut on 24 March 2018 in a friendly match against Madagascar, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory.

Damian Cade
Damian Cade
He is an enthusiastic senior writer for Footbalium who leans towards writing and researching the history of football clubs and players' life stories.


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