France boss Deschamps explains why he keeps overlooking Man City’s Laporte

France manager Didier Deschamps defended his decision to call up Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma over Manchester City star Aymeric Laporte on Tuesday, before his side went on to lose to minnows Finland the following day.

Despite establishing himself as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League – perhaps second only to Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk – Laporte has repeatedly been snubbed by the national team and is yet to even make his debut for France.

The 26-year-old has been called up to the squad on four occasions, without making it off the bench, but he had to pull out the last time he was selected in 2019 after suffering the lateral meniscus injury that ruled him out of action for much of last season.

Following his recovery after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Laporte has been back to his best in the heart of City’s back-line but it still hasn’t been enough to earn a recall by Deschamps.

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The World Cup winning manager explained his decision to call up Zouma instead of Laporte a day before his side went on to lose 2-0 in a friendly against Finland, who are ranked 60th in FIFA’s rankings, on Wednesday.

“There’s competition everywhere,” he said in his pre-match press conference.

“Kurt has been with us for a while, he’s been called up many times but hasn’t played that much. If I pick him it’s because I think he’s better than the other people because of what he’s doing at Chelsea.

“He had a few injuries in a row but now he’s been very fit for a while, he’s very calm, so he’s here.

“‘If you’re asking why I picked those four central defenders, I have to choose. We have three games in nine days so obviously everybody will play, including Kurt.”

France have an enviable wealth of options in every position across the pitch but are particularly well stocked at centre-back, with the highly-rated Dayot Upamecano also failing to make the 26-man squad.

When discussing the RB Leipzig defender, Deschamps made it clear that door isn’t shut for anyone to earn their spot in the national side ahead of next summer’s European Championship – including Laporte.

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Manchester City players are now on international duty after taking on Liverpool in the biggest match of the season so far.

The visitors went ahead early through Mo Salah’s penalty, but Gabriel Jesus’ sublime turn and finish brought City level. Kevin De Bruyne’s missed penalty could have given City the three points, but the match ended in a high-quality 1-1 draw.

City have a two-week break with many of their stars heading off to play for their countries – we’ll be keeping tabs on how they all perform, and on preparations for their next Premier League match at Tottenham.

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“He was with us before. He’s going through a more difficult moment,” he continued. “He knows he can do better. He was quite emotional during his first call-up in September, and in October as well.

“He’s a young player and he has the potential. He’s playing many games. Of course, if it’s not him, it’s another, it’s about the competition. Kurt Zouma in that case, who’s doing very well, he’s a starter at Chelsea and he knows the French team as well.

“The door is not closed. I make that choice today because it’s logical to me. Will it be the same in March and June? It’s the same thing for all of the players who were not called but can hope to be in the national team.”

Manchester Evening News