Laporte saga nears conclusion as defender earns France call-up

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France have called up defender Aymeric Laporte for their World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Netherlands in a move that could end the debate over whether he will represent Les Bleus or Spain.

The 22-year-old centre-back has represented France at Under-17, U-18, U-19 and U-21 levels but is yet to win a senior cap.

Laporte had been tipped to make France's Euro 2016 squad but saw his hopes scuppered when he broke his leg in March.

The Athletic Bilbao stopper is eligible for Spain through his Basque heritage a number of their players recently welcomed speculation that coach Julen Lopetegui wanted him to play for La Roja, with Laporte frustrated at having to wait for his debut on the senior international stage.

But the lengthy saga will end if Laporte accepts the call-up and makes an appearance in France's two qualifiers next month, with head coach Didier Deschamps having turned to him in the absence of injured defenders Samuel Umtiti and Adil Rami.

"He is someone that we have been following and his time has come," Deschamps said. 

"I chose from the players that were available. It can happen that there are players injured or unavailable, but at no time would I choose a player for reasons other than what is best for the French team. 

"I didn't take Laporte to stop him from playing for another national team. I have never worked like that. If I think he should play, he'll play. And it will be for the good of the team."

The other uncapped player named is Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, while Lyon's Nabil Fekir is also included having not played international football for over a year after a serious knee injury.

There was still no place for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, while injured Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud was not risked. 

 

FRANCE SQUAD IN FULL:

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (PSG), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Crystal Palace)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Barcelona), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Layvin Kurzawa (PSG), Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao), Jeremy Mathieu (Barcelona), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Nabil Fekir (Lyon)

Forwards: Kevin Gameiro (Atletico Madrid), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United).