Franck Ribery retirement should suit France future fine
Is Franck Ribery’s retirement from international football robbing France of a rare talent ahead of them hosting Euro 2016? Coral experts look at what this decision means for Les Bleus and the Bayern Munich winger going forward.
Didier Deschamps frankly coped without Ribery in French ranks when he missed the recent World Cup in Brazil through injury. Les Bleus fell in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Germany, with many of his Bayern teammates involved.
Now 31, another World Cup appearance in 2018 (France are 10/1 with Coral to win it) would be beyond Ribery. His decision to walk away from the national set-up ahead of an earlier tournament on native soil does strike you as a little strange, however.
At least in explaining his choice to call it quits, there is an element of graciousness from a player who has courted controversy off the field for much of his career.
“I want to focus on my family and concentrate on my work at Bayern Munich and make way in the national team for the many young and exciting players,” Ribery said. Note the personal reasons came first before creating opportunities for others.
Perhaps Ribery looked in the mirror and saw a little of his own future as an inevitably declining force, while observing replacement Antoine Griezmann announce himself on the global stage. Deschamps sold his World Cup selections on choosing a team not individuals; hence Premier League title winner Samir Nasri’s omission, which will likely become international exile.
For all his achievements in Munich, including 10 major trophies, Ribery has rarely replicated his club form for country. In all but one of his seasons at the Allianz, he’s managed double figures for goals and assists galore. Only in a qualification campaign for a World Cup he sat out were there glimpses of this being consistently carried over into a France shirt.
Seven Les Bleus squad members earned moves off the back of their exploits in Brazil. Chief among them were the wide players, Griezmann and the diminutive Mathieu Valbuena. Fans of French flair should now look to (Atletico) Madrid and (Dynamo) Moscow, not Munich.
Measuring what Deschamps has lost is far less quantifiable than the gains made by Bayern boss Pep Guardiola. Ribery will be resting during international breaks now, and that can only be good news for fans of the German giants.
Having scored just one goal in four major tournaments makes it impossible to claim he is a modern French great. Assists were far from bountiful at the two European Championships and as many World Cups where Ribery was on show either.
It looks like his ending involvement with Les Bleus may be best for all parties, then. Deschamps can build for a future, which has France at 5/1, joint second-favourites no less, to win Euro 2016.