French players go for big money

A year after the 2006 World Cup, at which France finished second, three Bleus starters have been sold by French clubs for big money. Indeed, French players continue to command a premium on the transfer market. The top seven transfers of French players from French clubs to foreign clubs have commanded fees of almost $150 million.

FRANCK RIBERY (Marseille to Bayern Munich).
Bayern paid $35 million for the 24-year-old Ribery, one of the revelations of the 2006 World Cup, and will owe OM another $5 million if it qualifies for the 2008-09 Champions League. Bayern financed the Ribery deal with the money it got from Manchester United for Owen Hargreaves.

FLORENT MALOUDA (Lyon to Chelsea). Malouda was the Blues' first big outlay of the summer. The 27-year-old winger, another starter at Germany '06, signed a four-year contract for a fee estimated at $27 million.

ERIC ABIDAL (Lyon to Barcelona). The Catalan club has coveted Abidal, the starting left back on France's 2006 World Cup team, for several years. It paid Lyon an estimated $18 million for Abidal and signed him to a four-year contract.

YOUNES KABOUL (Auxerre to Tottenham). Spurs spent $16 million and beat out Inter Milan and Roma for the powerful French under-21 defender. He will provide cover for England international Ledley King, who is recovering from knee surgery.

JULIEN FAUBERT (Bordeaux to West Ham). The Hammers shelled out $12 million for the 23-year-old midfielder. Faubert, who was tipped to go to Scottish club Rangers, signed a five-year deal.

RIO MAVUBA (Bordeaux to Villarreal). The Spanish club paid almost $11 million for Mavuba, who has been capped six times by France. Arsenal and Manchester United were also after the 23-year-old midfielder.

BAKARI SAGNA (Auxerre to Arsenal). Auxerre will receive more than $10 million -- with an additional $2.5 million potentially on its way -- for the right back. Sagna says he signed with the Gunners because of his respect for their French manager, Arsene Wenger.

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