France boss Didier Deschamps digs out Arsenal defender William Saliba | Football


France boss Didier Deschamps digs out Arsenal defender William Saliba | Football

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The centre-back has started just two of France’s last 18 games (Picture: Getty)

Didier Deschamps has defended his decision to use William Saliba so sparingly for the France national team and says the Arsenal star does things ‘he does not like’.

The 23-year-old has been a cornerstone of the Gunners’ fine form over the past two seasons, forming a solid and uncompromising partnership alongside Gabriel Magalhaes.

He was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for his performances last season, while Arsenal have shipped just 24 goals in the current campaign – the best defensive record in the division.

Yet his excellent form at club level has not been rewarded with a place in the France back-line, with Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate and Benjamin Pavard all ahead of him in the centre-back pecking order.

He was an unused substitute in his nation’s 2-0 defeat to Germany on Saturday and he has now started in just two of France’s last 18 games.

Eight of his 12 caps came in 2022 off the back of a loan season at Marseille and his impressive form for Arsenal has not translated into more opportunities with the national team.

Saliba is expected to feature against Chile on Tuesday in a rotated line-up and Deschamps has now defended the lack of minutes afforded to the Arsenal defender, saying there are aspects of his game that need to be improved and to respect his position within the centre-back hierarchy.

Saliba is yet to force his way into the France starting XI (Picture: Getty)

‘He is having a good season, but he also does things that I don’t like so much,’ explained Deschamps at his pre-match press conference on Monday.

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‘For France, he has limited game time, but when he plays, that hasn’t necessarily gone well.

‘The hierarchy doesn’t favour him at the moment, but he is here. Dayot Upamecano has had game time and perhaps William has had less.

‘With certain players, I make sure to persevere, because it can be confidence or little blockages that can shift.

‘Some don’t have any concerns, some need game time. William has had less game time, so that doesn’t allow him to be very calm.’

Despite his lack of minutes for France, Saliba is still expected to be part of les Bleus’ squad for this summer’s Euros, though he looks likely to have a watching brief with Deschamps still favouring a number of other centre-backs more experienced at international and European level.

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