Deschamps decides on surprising France squad for friendly clashes
Ahead of next summer’s Euro 2016 in their own backyard, France will soon be preparing for the competition on home soil with further international friendlies, and manager Didier Deschamps has made some surprising changes to his latest squad.
With match-ups against Armenia and Denmark soon set to test the French outfit, Deschamps has stunningly recalled Marseille midfielder Lassana Diarra five years after his last appearance for Les Bleus, while Old Trafford starlet Anthony Martial is also included.
With Diarra being the unexpected inclusion within Deschamps’ latest set-up, who are 31/20 with Coral to overcome Armenia to nil, West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet is undoubtedly the most surprising absentee, with his superb showings in the Premier League somehow being overlooked.
Former Arsenal and Chelsea midfield anchor Diarra has made a sensational career U-turn in recent years, now performing in Ligue 1 with Marseille, despite being left without a club last season after a contract dispute at Lokomotiv Moscow.
The 30-year-old’s potent showings for Les Olympiens clearly caught the eye of Deschamps since joining in July this summer, and the next challenge will be to force his way into the France line-up for next year’s Euro 2016 quest on home turf, half a decade since his last outing against Norway in 2010.
Although, the journeyman midfielder will have a tough task ahead of him, with Crystal Palace’s in-form Yohan Cabaye competing for a starting spot, along with PSG’s dominant Blaise Matuidi, Manchester United engine Morgan Schneiderlin and Juventus maestro Paul Pogba.
Under Slaven Bilic so far this season, attacking midfielder Payet has been one of the star performers at Upton Park, striking four times in eight top tier outings and helping to topple both title challengers Arsenal and Manchester City on the road.
The Hammers’ key creative spark has also provided three top-flight assists for teammates, a tally which will certainly continue to rise over the course of this campaign in East London, making the 28-year-old’s absence all the more baffling.
Although, Deschamps has stuck to his guns with Manchester United prospect Martial, with the teenage sensation potentially set to make only his third ever national outing against Armenia, after a meteoric rise silenced those who were critical of his £36m move from Monaco.
The 19-year-old has been phenomenal for the Red Devils, with Louis van Gaal handing his summer acquisition the leading role in United’s attack, and Deschamps had no doubts about rewarding him with a second successive call-up.
“He [Martial] has the potential. Everybody is surprised by what he is doing at United but that’s good for him and good for us. He deserves to be here,” stated the France boss.
“It was anything but easy after everything that has been written and said about him.
“It has silenced a few people. He’s young, he may have more complicated times. He’s able to make great things happen. He did in Monaco.
“He’s doing it now in a club at another level so it is easier to pay attention to his performances. He’s always been talented though.”
Martial has dispatched four goals in his new surroundings already and could transfer his rampant club form onto the international platform against Armenia and Denmark, ahead of what could be a defining summer next year for this French wonderkid.
The promising French starlet faces strong competition for a place though, with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema taking his rightful place in the squad, along with Olivier Giroud and Alexandre Lacazaette, who recently replaced the injured Paul-Georges Ntep.
There was no place in Deschamps’ set-up for rejuvenated wideman Ben Arfa, who has excelled for Ligue 1 outfit Nice since moving back to his homeland, after a disastrous spell at Hull City in the Premier League.
With a mix of both fresh faces and more experienced heads, Deschamps will hope his squad can smoothly shift into gear during their latest friendly outings in preparation for next summer, where France are 7/2 to banish recent international demons with victory on home soil.
Full France squad:
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Villarreal), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Patrice Evra (Juventus), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Benoit Tremoulinas (Bordeaux), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Lassana Diarra (Marseille), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Paul-Georges Ntep (Rennes), Mathieu Valbuena (Lyon)