5 Players France Should Call Up Following 2014 World Cup Campaign
Following on from France’s quarter-final FIFA World Cup exit, Les Bleus’ defeat at the hands of Germany now looks more respectable in light of the 7-1 thrashing that the Germans handed out to hosts Brazil in their semi-final clash. Didier Deschamps’ men were narrowly beaten 1-0 and much was made of the disappointing manner of the loss.
On reflection, though, that semi-final scoreline once again emphasises just how much progress the French have made since November last year when they overcame Ukraine in dramatic circumstances to qualify for the World Cup via the play-offs.
With the 2016 UEFA European Championship on home soil now firmly on Deschamps’ mind, the 45-year-old can start to experiment a little with his next few squads. There are already a number of talents knocking on his door, while a couple of positions in the team need greater depth.
Here are five players that France should call up in the wake of this summer’s World Cup exit.
Although he will probably not be in Deschamps' thinking immediately, right-back Sebastien Corchia—who recently joined Lille OSC from FC Sochaux-Montbeliard—could play his way into contention for a place in France's Euro 2016 squad with a good start to life with Les Dogues.
Considering the lack of real options in that position, the 23-year-old looks to be the best emerging talent capable of putting pressure on Bacary Sagna and Mathieu Debuchy. However, he needs to make swift progress at Stade Pierre Mauroy after stagnating with a poor Sochaux side.
Paris Saint-Germain's Adrien Rabiot, FC Nantes' Jordan Veretout are all worthy of mention too—as is Stade Rennais' Paul-Georges Ntep—but all are a little too young and untested to command an immediate call-up. All four players mentioned in this slide are certainly worth keeping an eye on ahead of Euro 2016 though.
5. Layvin Kurzawa
Touted as a possible contender for a place in Deschamps’ final 23-man squad for Brazil before injury put paid to an excellent debut season in Ligue 1, AS Monaco’s Layvin Kurzawa is a player who could receive a call-up for the friendlies against Spain and then Serbia in September.
A lightning fast, attack-minded left-back, the 21-year-old and PSG’s Lucas Digne would be two excellent options for Euro 2016.
64.3% - Monaco have won 64.3% of their Ligue 1 games with Layvin Kurzawa starting this season, only 40% without him. Injured.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) April 14, 2014
In order for that to happen, though, Deschamps will likely need to take a decision over the future of the trusted Patrice Evra, who would be 35 by the time the tournament arrives. Having performed well without excelling in Brazil, it could be time for a change in this position and Kurzawa is the outstanding talent—behind Digne—in the role.
4. Aymeric Laporte
Another defensive talent that France should be looking to introduce to the setup is Athletic Club’s Aymeric Laporte. The 20-year-old central defender, born in France but educated in the heart of the Spanish Basque country for the past four years, is currently an under-21 French international.
However, the time is approaching where it might be possible for Laporte to obtain a Spanish passport and—with it—he would be eligible to play for Spain’s senior side instead of Les Bleus.
In order to ensure that this does not happen and that the talented, but also versatile Bilbao defender pledges his future to his country of birth, Deschamps should think about calling him up to the senior squad soon. The friendly against the Spanish on September 4 presents the perfect opportunity for that.
Considering the embarrassment of riches that France have coming through in the central defensive position—including Kurt Zouma and Samuel Umtiti—Deschamps is almost certain to experiment with one or two of the promising youngsters emerging shortly.
3. Geoffrey Kondogbia
Prior to last season, Monaco’s Geoffrey Kondogbia looked almost certain to feature in Deschamps’ 23-man squad for Brazil after graduating to Les Bleus’ senior setup after playing a key role in France’s FIFA under-20 World Cup. The 21-year-old featured once for the French—63 minutes of a 0-0 draw with Belgium last August—before a difficult start to life in the principality ultimately put paid to his chances.
After a strong finish to the season with Les Monegasques, Kondogbia is back in the reckoning for a place in this France team—possibly at the expense of Lille OSC’s Rio Mavuba—although Olympique Lyonnais’ Maxime Gonalons will perhaps be the first port of call for Deschamps.
Kondogbia’s Monaco teammate Jeremy Toulalan is another possibility but age and the ghosts of his 2010 World Cup experience could ensure that the 30-year-old remains permanently retired. Otherwise, a strong start to the season from the physically imposing Kondogbia could see him called up for the Spain and Serbia clashes.
2. Kevin Gameiro
Another player itching for a recall is Kevin Gameiro. The 27-year-old has not featured for France since 2011, but a good start to life in Spain with Sevilla—including 15 goals in 35 La Liga games and a UEFA Europa League title—might be able to persuade Deschamps to give him a chance ahead of Euro 2016.
Gameiro made the right decision to leave French champions PSG last summer and his impressive form with Los Nervionenses offers the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000-winning captain a realistic alternative to Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud up top. Deschamps will likely drop neither, but the Sevilla star has arguably earned his chance to impress once again.
5 - Kevin Gameiro has scored 5 goals in European competition this season, highest tally for a french player alongside Benzema. Substitute.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 14, 2014
His relatively small size and speed—in comparison to both Benzema and Giroud—would offer France greater variety as well. That was something that the French were lacking in the latter stages in Brazil this summer.
1. Alexandre Lacazette
The one player Deschamps arguably must call-up for the Spain and Serbia friendly clashes though is Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette. Unlucky to find himself on the seven-man reserve list for this summer’s tournament, the 23-year-old earned a chance to stake his claims with Les Bleus with last season’s impressive form.
15 - Alexandre Lacazette has scored the most goals from open play in Ligue 1 this season. Presence.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 16, 2014
Although he was not handed that opportunity against the Netherlands back in March, the OL man surely deserves the chance now. A good start to the new Ligue 1 season would greatly enhance his chances.
Capable of playing wide or through the middle up top, Lacazette could prove extremely complementary to Benzema or even act as an alternative if Deschamps decides to temporarily dispense with the Real Madrid man’s services. If he picks up where he left off last season, Lacazette is almost certain to force his way into Euro 2016 contention.