France’s preparations for the European Nations League determined by Mbappe and Benzema, a happy reunion and Deschamps’ sadness

Up until that point, everything was going fine. Didier Deschamps welcomed 23 very happy French players to camp on Saturday ahead of four UEFA Nations League matches over the next two weeks. There was Kylian Mbappe, who recently shocked the football world by extending his stay at Paris Saint-Germain. There was Antoine Griezmann, very relieved to be reunited with his countrymen again and to breathe fresh air after weeks of difficulty at Atletico Madrid at the end of the 2021-22 season.

– What you need to know about the UEFA Nations League

There was Boubacar Camara, the young midfielder who has just completed his move from Marseille to Aston Villa and is celebrating his first ever call-up for his country. RB Leipzig playmaker multi-movement Christopher Nkunko, William Saliba (who is returning to Arsenal after a successful loan at Marseille) and Lens defender Jonathan Klaus have been spotted, who is delighted to be back for a second international break in a row. The sun was shining, there were smiles all around and a very positive atmosphere ahead of their matches against Denmark, Croatia (twice) and Austria in the Nations League group.

The arrival of Karim Benzema, on Monday evening, after winning the Champions League title with Real Madrid and the fifth European title in the past eight years, brought Clairefontaine more happiness. He was reunited with Mbappe, and we all waited.”retrouvailes“Between the two deadliest strikers in the world. Will there be any tension after Mbappe chose to refuse Real Madrid and stay in Paris? He appeared on social media after news of Mbappe’s decision.

Mbappe had a resplendent presence around Clairefontaine this week: a leader on and off the field, excellent in training, vocal, committed. It’s as if the new deal he got with PSG has lifted a huge weight off his shoulders.

But then, devastating news. France coach Didier Deschamps gave a speech on Tuesday his father died, so he returned to his home, southwest France, to be with his family. His players observed an extremely emotional minute of silence before training on Tuesday – as his assistant Jay Stefan conducted the sessions – and Deschamps’ phone was inundated with messages of grief, support and love from his team and crew.

As they’ve shown countless times since Deschamps became manager in 2012, this team is more than just a team. They stick together when the going gets tough and take pride in their cool spirit, which came out again this week.

It’s a week that Deschamps will never forget, of course, and it’s also a week where a lot has happened to his players. Although Deschamps has removed Paul Pogba from this call-up so he can rest and prepare for the new season, we have got confirmation that his time at Manchester United is over; After six years of ups and downs, the French midfielder will never play with them again. Usually, Pogba gets a huge emotional boost when he joins the national team, but he has to decide his future with Juventus (where he played from 2012 to 2016) His most likely destination. (He is expected to announce his new club in the Amazon Docs series, called “The Pogmentary,” which It should debut on June 17.)

It will be interesting to see France perform without his leadership and talent in this quartet of big matches. Aurélien Tchouameni will replace him in midfield, which he too will never forget this week. After all, this is the week he is expected to join Real Madrid.

The agreement, which ESPN revealed last week, is now fully effective despite some issues with transfer taxes. The former Monaco player spoke about it with Benzema, who told him everything he wanted and needed to know about the Spanish giants – including how to become European champion!

The riyal will pay a heavy price to close the deal, but Chuamini is worth every penny. Within 12 months, the La Liga champions have bought the players who must dominate France’s midfield (Eduardo Camavinga and Chuamini) for the next 10 years! Until that deal is finalized, though, France will take full advantage of Chuamini’s talent, whether he starts alongside N’Golo Kante or Adrien Rabiot in midfield on Friday, or even if he is the first-choice off the bench.

The strength in depth is as good as it ever was with France, but this team could also see historic changes taking place this week off the pitch. Noel Le Graet, President of the French Football Federation (FFF), held a meeting with Mbappe, Hugo Lloris, Griezmann, Kante and Raphael Varane to discuss players’ image rights in the line of international duty.

So far, the French national team players have had to do what the federation wanted them to do in terms of marketing and sponsorship, with the French Football Federation retaining their image rights from their first call-up to their last. in March , Mbappe refused to allow his image to be used By some French sponsors, saying no to a gambling partner and a fast food partner. The players, who are following the lead of the Paris Saint-Germain star, want more control, and Le Graet is expected to acquiesce in their requests. A second meeting is scheduled for the next few days, but this is a positive step forward.

Friday’s match against Denmark at the Stade de France cannot come too early. Players will start defending the Nations League they want to keep, and they will play with Deschamps and his family. (Deschamps will not be present, with his deputy, Stefan, taking charge on the bench.) They will also play with the World Cup in Qatar in their minds. The defense of that title starts now too, as November is coming sooner than we think. It’s time to focus.