Misfits: France XI of outsiders that could crash Euro 2016 squad
Holly Thackeray | February 15, 2016
Les Bleus outsiders that could sneak into Euro squad
Euro 2016 hosts France have far from sewn-up their squad selections, especially as injuries, form and suspension could throw a spanner in the works for quirky coach Didier Deschamps.
Not to fear, however, as Les Bleus (11/4 with Coral to win Euro 2016) boast enviable quality on the pitch, with a raft of players that hail from across the channel impressing this campaign.
Be they uncapped prodigies with potential, older peers barely given a glimpse of game time, or outsiders that have emerged as if from nowhere – France have an abundance of selection underdogs.
So, Coral present our XI of eligible outsiders France could bring in from the cold this summer. What a team! Agree or disagree with our picks? Let us know…
Goalkeeper: Alphonse Areola (Villarreal)
Admittedly, France are well stocked in the stopper department, but PSG academy product Areola certainly looks like one for the future, who may eventually press Hugo Lloris for a place between the sticks.
See some of his saves below:
There’s a spot for a third keeper in the finals behind Lloris and trusty Steve Mandanda, and Areola could grasp it with both gloves.
Only 22, he has kept 11 La Liga clean sheets on loan to Villarreal, keeping the Yellow Submarine steady as they chase Champions League football. Shutting out the likes of Atletico and Real Madrid is no easy task.
Right back: Corentin Tolisso (Lyon)
An apparent Arsenal target, talented Tolisso’s versatility at full back or midfield positions would make the uncapped 21-year-old an excellent squad option for Deschamps.
All the furore is about Mathieu Debuchy’s chances of making the final cut but, if wanting to look to the future, Tolisso is tipped for big things. Four goals and five assists in Ligue 1 from various positions, make the youngster a handy asset.
Centre back: Jeremy Mathieu (Barcelona)
Another here able to operate in numerous roles, though perhaps Mathieu’s adaptable nature explains his measly four caps.
The underrated 32-year-old is now settled as an understated centre half at Barcelona, where he became a treble-winner last campaign. As the most decorated Frenchman in 2015, if he is ever to make the grade for Deschamps, the time is now.
Centre back: Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao)
Rumour has it that this Basque defender could well become Mathieu’s clubmate, or left-footed centre half competitor, at the Nou Camp in summer.
Before then, many have been baffled as to why intelligent Bilbao fixture Laporte remains uncapped. An ill-timed injury to fellow young-gun Kurt Zouma could perhaps open the door for a Euro stint, as composed Laporte, the jewel in Athletic’s crown, becomes ever-more coveted.
Left back: Layvin Kurzawa (PSG)
The fight is firmly on to become veteran Patrice Evra’s successor down the left defensive flank for France.
Of Polish ancestry, Kurzawa has already seen off competitor Lucas Digne at PSG and will be seeking to similarly oust his rival from Deschamps’ thinking, having now begun to establish himself in Paris following a shaky start.
Check out Kurzawa’s superb strike in a slick PSG team goal:
Defensive midfield: Giannelli Imbula (Stoke City)
As the Potters’ record signing, there was much pressure on former Porto shield Imbula to perform, and he has so far proven his worth manning Stoke’s engine room.
With a goal to end his new club’s dry patch last time out, Imbula can be a player who dominates the middle of the park, but there is stiff competition on the Les Bleus roster for the Belgium-born but former France Under-21 star.
As it stands, Deschamps is blessed with a mix of powerful and defensive-minded midfielders, though should an injury arise, Imbula will want to ensure he is in the reckoning.
Central midfield: N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
One of the revelations of this Premier League season, Kante has covered every blade of grass at the King Power Stadium, and rivals Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez for best Foxes bargain.
Inspirational as he pounds around the pitch taking no prisoners, the energetic 24-year-old has caused a clamour for an international call-up. This driving force is still somewhat of an unknown quantity but, on current form, would not look amiss partnering Paul Pogba at the expense of older peers.
Right wing: Paul-Georges Ntep (Rennes)
Lightning-fast Ntep was another Frenchman with flair all-the-rage a few summers ago, but has kept his head down in Ligue 1 enough to grab two caps.
Born in Cameroon, a return of nine goals and seven assists last season was a promising haul from the wily wideman, who has seen this season disrupted a little by injury. Still, he could prove a more reliable bench option and wildcard than controversial Hatem Ben Arfa.
Attacking midfield: Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
Having crossed swords with Deschamps before, Payet’s sensational playmaking and ability to pop up with a crucial goal may not be enough to earn a return to the France fold.
Pride should be put aside here though, as the former leading Ligue 1 assist-maker has seamlessly transferred his creative talents to West Ham United. Simply too good to be ignored.
View Payet at his best:
Left wing: Nabil Fekir (Lyon)
An long injury lay-off could have put paid to dazzling forward Fekir’s France hopes, though the Lyon star had truly begun to blossom before his season was cut short by a cruciate problem.
A game-changer, and due to return to fitness before the finals, Deschamps could still opt to include flamboyant Fekir as the secret ace in his attacking pack.
Striker: Kevin Gameiro (Sevilla)
Should Karim Benzema remain suspended, a gap could open up for this Sevilla goal-getter, though a pecking order featuring the likes of Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann would still prove tough to shift.
However, Gameiro’s haul of 13 La Liga strikes for the Bathtubs this season is actually one better than Griezmann’s tally of 12, yet this Frenchman of Portuguese ancestry remains out of fashion.