Lille OSC’s most successful era came between 1945 and 1954, when they claimed two Ligue 1 titles – finishing as runners-up on four other occasions – and won four Coupe de la Ligues.

In terms of silverware, those nine years were as good as it got for Les Dogues. Just two years after their second Ligue 1 success in 1954, they were relegated to Ligue 2, a catastrophe that led to decades of underachievement on the pitch and disappointment in the stands.

However, undoubtedly Lille’s finest season since their halcyon days over half a century ago took place in 2010/11, when a team containing an array of talents across the pitch recorded a domestic league and cup double to end the long wait for major honours.

That side was soon picked apart by bigger and wealthier clubs across the continent, but right now Lille are second in the French top flight.

Had Lille managed to keep hold of their best players in recent years, though, they would have the team to fight PSG for the title. And to prove it, here’s how they could have lined up…

Nationality: French
Current club: Lille
Lille appearances: 72

(Photo credit PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Lille could once call upon Mikael Landreau – the player with the most Ligue 1 appearances in history (618) – during their title-winning season.  The man between the sticks nowadays is Mike Maignan, who was snapped up from PSG’s B team in 2015.

The 23-year-old cemented his place as Lille’s first-choice goalkeeper last season and now has 72 Ligue 1 appearances to his name, as well as 37 caps for France across various youth levels.

Maignan has also saved penalties from the likes of Edinson Cavani and Mario Balotelli during his time at Lille.

Age: 26

Nationality: French

Current club: Monaco

Lille appearances: 96

Sidibe

Signed as a 19-year-old in 2012 after helping Troyes earn promotion to the top-flight in 2012, Djibril Sidibe initially played up a backup role at Lille but was promoted to the starting XI following Mathieu Debuchy’s sale to Newcastle in 2013.

Immediately he impressed with his attacking forays from either flank garnering plenty of attention and after a few excellent seasons, he was signed by Monaco in the summer of 2016 for a fee of £12.75m. Sidibe made his France debut in a 3-1 win over Italy later that year before going on to win Ligue 1 in his debut season for the principality club.

Age: 33

Nationality: French

Current club: Marseille

Lille appearances: 142

Rami

A member of Lille’s 2011 title win, Adil Rami was plucked from the obscurity of Fréjus in the French lower leagues in 2006 for a measly fee of €10,000 and he proved to be excellent value for money over the next five years.

Soon after the Ligue 1 win, Rami was signed by Valencia where he spent three seasons before joining Milan for 18- months, then Sevilla in 2015 and now Marseille in 2017. He was France’s starting centre back at Euro 2016 as Les Bleus finished runners-up before winning the 2018 World Cup.

Age: 29

Nationality: Danish

Current Club: Sevilla

Lille appearances: 66

Kjaer

Regarded as one of the finest young defenders of his generation while he was making his name with FC Midtjylland and then Palermo, Simon Kjaer took in further stints at Roma and then Wolfsburg before ending up at Lille in 2013.

The tough-tackling Dane was a virtual ever-present during his two-year stay at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, making 79 appearances and scoring four goals in total before continuing his European tour by moving to Fenerbahce in Turkey and now Sevilla.

Age: 25

Nationality: French

Current club: Everton

Lille appearances: 49

Digne

A product of Lille’s youth academy, Lucas Digne joined the club in 2005 and progressed to the senior ranks six years later, immediately securing a starting place in the side.

Digne enjoyed two excellent campaigns before securing a move to PSG in 2013 but after failing to dislodge Maxwell from the starting XI he moved on to Roma where his performances led to another high-profile move to Barcelona in July 2016.

Unable to dislodge Jordi Alba, Digne moved to Everton in the summer of 2018 and has provided more crosses than any other Premier League player this season.

Age: 29

Nationality: Senegalese

Current club: Everton

Lille appearances: 134

Gueye

Signed from Diambars in his homeland in 2008, Idrissa Gueye spent two years playing for Lille’s B team before progressing to the senior side during their victorious 2010/11 campaign.

After spending a bit-part role in Lille’s twin success that year, Gueye established himself as a key member of the side over the next four years before moving to English football to join Aston Villa and then in 2016, to Everton following the Villans’ relegation. Gueye regularly figures as the top tackler in the Premier League but could be leaving the division soon with Paris Saint-Germain said to be interested.

Age: 33

Nationality: French

Current club: Unattached (most recently Al-Nasr)

Lille Appearances: 191

Cabaye

The chief conductor of Lille’s midfield in 2010/11, Yohan Cabaye made just short of 250 appearances for the club after progressing through their youth system in 2004.

Cabaye announced that he would be leaving Lille for Newcastle after the final game of their title-winning campaign and has since worn the colours of PSG, Crystal Palace and Al-Nasr.

Age: 23

Nationality: Ivorian

Current club: Lille

Lille Appearances: 58

(Photo credit PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Another example of Lille’s outstanding recruitment in recent years, Sofiane Boufal joined in June 2017 from then Ligue 2 outfit Angers SCO and quickly set about terrorising defences in the top-flight shortly after his arrival.

The Ivorian international winger went from strength to strength in his first full season in Ligue 1 last term, scoring 13 goals and providing four assists in 31 starts. Pepe has continued that form this season, already bagging 15 goals in 23 games, providing another seven assists along the way.

Pepe remains at Lille for now, but links to Arsenal are now circulating.

Age: 26

Nationality: French

Current club: Marseille

Lille Appearances: 0

(Photo credit FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

After helping Bastia win Ligue 2 in 2012, Thauvin was snapped up by Lille on a four-and-a-half-year deal but was immediately loaned back to where he came from.

Thauvin bagged 10 goals in 32 Ligue 1 games for Bastia that season and picked up the division’s Young Player of the Year award. This prompted Marseille to part with €15m to secure his services before Thauvin had even played a game for Lille, and the midfielder has scored 71 goals across 209 games for the club during two spells, with an unsuccessful stint at Newcastle United sandwiched between.

Thauvin has seven caps for France to date and was a part of their 2018 World Cup winning side in Russia.

Age: 31

Nationality: French

Current club: Marseille

Lille Appearances: 71

Payet

While Dimitri Payet’s talent has never been in question, he had struggled for consistency while at Nantes and Saint-Etienne prior to his move to Lille in the summer after they won the league.

However, he began to really flourish after joining Les Dogues, scoring 19 goals and providing 30 assists in 95 appearances culminating in a move to Marseille in 2013.

Under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa, Payet’s game improved further and after two years with L’OM he joined West Ham where he became one of the most highly-rated players in the Premier League before rejoining Marseille.

Age: 28

Nationality: Belgian

Current club: Chelsea

Lille Appearances: 147

Hazard

Snapped up from Belgian club Tubize in 2005, Eden Hazard became Lille’s jewel in the crown after making his debut two years later, becoming one of the club’s greatest ever players over the course of the next five years.

Hazard won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010 and then won back-to-back Ligue 1 Player of the Year awards over the next two years, as well as playing in every game as Lille won the title in 2011.

In his final campaign at the club, Hazard scored 20 goals in 38 Ligue 1 matches and his consistent match-winning contributions resulted in Chelsea spending £34m to land him in 2012. Hazard has scored 101 goals during his time at Stamford Bridge, winning two Premier League titles and helping Belgium to third-place at the 2018 World Cup.

Hazard has operated as a false-nine in recent months under Maurizio Sarri, but the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain has changed this.

Subs bench: Subs: Salomon Kalou (Hertha BSC), Stephan Lichsteiner (Arsenal) Aurelien Chedjou (Bursaspor), Mathieu Debuchy (Saint-Etienne), Gervinho (Parma), Sebastian Corchia (Benfica), Dante (OGC Nice)

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