6 French Players to Look For in Uruguay International Friendly

Jonathan JohnsonFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2013

6 French Players to Look For in Uruguay International Friendly

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    With a South American international double-header coming up for Didier Deschamps’ France, Les Bleus’ chief has experimented with a number of selections after suffering a few withdrawals.

    Samir Nasri, recalled after the Euro 2012 debacle in which he featured prominently (via ESPN FC), pulled out with an injury doubt. Teammate Gael Clichy also withdrew for similar reasons, as did Paris Saint-Germain’s Jeremy Menez.

    With those better-established names dropping out of the 23-man party though, a number of exciting new faces have been drafted into the squad. A number of familiar, but relatively less-established names have also been included in the injury aftermath.

    Here are six players to look out for when France takes on Uruguay.

Clement Grenier

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    Lyon’s Clement Grenier has been one of Ligue 1’s sensations of the season, finishing the campaign with seven goals in total.

    Two of those were spectacular free kicks against Nice and Rennes in the final two games of the season, enough to prompt Arsene Wenger to declare his interest in the player (via ESPN FC).

    Having laid on an additional five assists in his 28 appearances for Remi Garde’s side, the classy playmaker is currently locked in talks with Lyon over his future (via ESPN FC).

    He will likely get a chance to show Deschamps his worth in the clash with Uruguay; expect him to impress with his Ronaldo-esque free kick technique and sublime technical skills.

Eliaquim Mangala

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    One of a number of French talents currently plying his trade outside of France, Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala is hot property.

    However, the strong, yet classy defender has never actually played for a domestic side in the country of his birth.

    Linked with a move to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea among others (via ESPN FC), the former Standard Liege man and French under-21 international regular has impressed in Portugal this season.

    Porto’s 30 million pound valuation of him may deter bidders for now, but international recognition will make the large price tag more justifiable to his employers.

    As Deschamps did with Real Madrid sensation Raphael Varane earlier this year, he will attempt to bleed Mangala into the side ahead of the World in Brazil next year.

    Any appearance would also definitively rule out the possibility of the 22-year-old representing the Democratic Republic of Congo, who had been courting him.

Josuha Guilavogui

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    Another top talent who will be one to watch during these friendlies is Saint-Etienne’s Josuha Guilavogui.

    The 22-year-old midfielder has not missed a game for Christophe Galtier’s side this season and ended the season as a Coupe de la Ligue winner.

    That despite switching positions for Les Verts in mid-March, from a more advanced role to a defensive one to cover the loss of the injured Jeremy Clement.

    A midfield general with good all-round ability, in the mould of Blaise Matuidi, Guilavogui has netted five goals in all competitions this season.

    Expect to see him play a part against Uruguay.

Stephane Ruffier

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    Another Saint-Etienne star who could be given a chance against La Celeste is goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.

    Of the misfortune to be born in the same era as Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda, competition is high for the goalkeepers in Les Bleus’ squad.

    In fact, Ruffier was only called up to replace perennial third-choice Mickael Landreau of Bastia.

    Saint-Etienne’s player of the season, Ruffier was the most recent call-up to the squad and will likely be in contention to play against Uruguay given that Lloris will captain the side against Brazil.

    Only capped once so far by his country, Ruffier is vastly underrated, not least because of this under-usage internationally. The 26-year-old is a tremendous shot-stopper and would likely be a natural starter in many other international sides.

    The former Monaco man deserves a chance to stake his claims for Les Bleus.

Benoit Tremoulinas

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    Another one-cap man on the squad is Bordeaux fullback Benoit Tremoulinas.

    Fresh from lifting the Coupe de France with Francis Gillot’s side after their 3-2 win over Evian at the Stade de France last Friday, the 27-year-old Girondins star received his only cap to-date against Italy last November.

    That was the briefest of appearances. Like Ruffier, massively underrated in Ligue 1, Tremoulinas will be looking to profit from the absence of Gael Clichy and Patrice Evra.

Alexandre Lacazette

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    Finally, a surprise selection in the absence of PSG’s Jeremy Menez is Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette.

    He joins club mates Grenier, Yoann Gourcuff and Bafetimbi Gomis on the squad, having only been an under-21 international until now.

    The 22-year-old has hardly excelled, with three goals and three assists in 31 appearances this season; so to say that his call-up was unexpected is understating it.

    However, Lacazette has been one of France’s most promising stars since making his first team debut in 2010.

    He also likely fits Deschamps’ profile that he is trying to use to build a squad that will not disintegrate mid-tournament.

Notable Mentions

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    It is a first appearance for France since last November against Italy for Lyon’s Yoann Gourcuff.

    The talented, yet temperamental playmaker has shown glimpses of form towards the end of the season and Deschamps has not hesitated to welcome him back into the fold.

    Teammate and club captain Maxime Gonalons misses out, as does Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.

    Treble-winning Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery was also not considered after his recent exertions.