Liverpool centre-back Ibrahima Konate has been left out of France’s squad for the UEFA Nations League games against Denmark, Croatia and Austria next month.
Manager Didier Deschamps has selected Manchester United’s Raphael Varane, Paris Saint-Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, Bayern Munich’s Lucas Hernandez and Arsenal’s William Saliba as his five centre-backs.
Saliba has not played a minute of first team football for the Gunners and he has spent the season out on loan at Marseille. However, when asked to explain Konate’s omission, Deschamps said that he is keeping tabs on the Reds defender, but competition for places, in addition to Saliba’s ability to play in a back three, led to him picking the Arsenal loanee instead:
“Yes, I’m following. He’s in a team which is competing in the Champions League final and for the title in England. But, since he’s been at Liverpool, he’s mostly played in a four-man defence and there is competition [in the France squad]. I brought [in] William last time and he always plays in a back three. It’s either one or the other. It’s very competitive and that’s very good. It allows for the veterans to not get too comfortable.”
Deschamps does tend to favour players in France. There was a situation a few years back when Adil Rami was being selected ahead of Aymeric Laporte, before the Manchester City defender switched allegiance and decided to represent Spain.
Whether Konate will receive the cold shoulder from Deschamps as many times as Laporte, we shall have to wait and see.