Marseille star Dimitri Payet was left out of France’s World Cup squad announced by coach Didier Deschamps on Thursday, completing a miserable 24 hours for the playmaker.
The former West Ham United player was forced off with a hamstring injury in the first half of Marseille’s Europa League final defeat against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, and that fitness doubt persuaded Deschamps to leave him out of the squad of 23.
“Dimitri Payet was a serious candidate for a place in the squad. He played the first half-hour (against Atletico), but he aggravated his injury, and the recovery time needed for that type of injury is three weeks,” Deschamps said after revealing his squad live on television station TF1’s evening news programme.
“But as it is a muscle injury, there is a risk of a relapse.”
Payet was one of France’s stars at Euro 2016, when they reached the final as hosts before losing to Portugal.
But he has also fallen victim to the number of attacking options available to Deschamps, who did call up Payet’s Marseille team-mate Florian Thauvin along with Lyon captain Nabil Fekir.
Elsewhere, Manchester City left-back Benjamin Mendy was called up despite having hardly featured for Pep Guardiola’s side since returning from a serious knee injury.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done”, wrote Mendy on Twitter.
Antoine Griezmann will lead the attack, fresh from scoring twice for Atletico in the Europa League final.
Key names such as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud and young Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe all feature.
“I dreamed of participating in this World Cup like all the children who will watch this World Cup,” said the 19-year-old Mbappe.
“But now it’s a reality and I will work during training to be the best performer possible to help the team.”
However, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette has to settle for a place as one of 11 players on a standby list, who could be called up in the event of injuries.
Deschamps has until June 4 before submitting his definitive squad list.
Another player to miss out was Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny, who ruptured an Achilles tendon playing against Atletico in the Europa League semi-finals.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema’s international exile goes on – he has not played for France since October 2015 after being accused of involvement in a blackmail affair involving a sextape.
“Two years have passed. I have put my faith in players who have responded to that, and the squad comes before everything else,” Deschamps said.
“I make decisions for the good of the France team.”
France open their World Cup campaign against Australia in the Russian city of Kazan on June 16, before also taking on Peru and Denmark in Group C.
Before heading to Russia, they will play three home friendlies, starting against the Republic of Ireland at the Stade de France on May 28.
They will then take on Italy in Nice on June 1 and the United States on June 9. -AFP