Aymeric Laporte has been left out of France's squad. Again.
Apparently there are reasons. Didier Deschamps prefers to have an even number of right and left footed centre-backs in his squads ('marginal gains' and that, but weird), and he doesn't quite fit in with some of the other personnel. There have been different reasons given for that – an apparent falling out with Antoine Griezmann being one of them – but one stands out. It took him ages to commit to France over Spain, and that was not well received.
La première liste de l'année 2019 ! On retrouvera nos Bleus lundi à Clairefontaine pour débuter les Qualifications de l'@EURO2020 #FiersdetreBleus— Equipe de France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) March 14, 2019
Moldavie France (22/03)
France Islande (25/03) pic.twitter.com/E05quOlWMz
In fact, he actively started the process of Spaniardising himself after he was overlooked for Euro 2016, and 51 youth level caps for France be damned. A month later, he was called up for France.
He backed down, saying he would stop the process of Spaniardification, and accepted the call-up for the country of his birth. He didn't play in either of the games in that international break though and, two and a half years later, remains uncapped at senior level.
Granted, France have unbelievable options in the position right now, with Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti the clear starting two, and
Except of course, by Deschamps' logic, it isn't. He wants to keep his left-right balance, the there are concerns about Laporte's impact on team chemistry. In a squad struggling for centre-back options, the coach would have to find a way to include him. In a squad with two of the best eight or nine centre-backs in the world, Deschamps doesn't have to make Laporte work.
That's why Luis Enrique should be on the phone to the Etihad Campus right now – Luis, if you're reading this, exit the browser and get on the blower – and asking Laporte if he wouldn't mind having another look at those Spanish citizenship papers he shredded a few years ago.
He'll be 25 at the end of the season. Aymeric Laporte will be 25 years old and not have a senior international cap and that is really, really, really stupid.
Questions on omissions of Clément Lenglet & Aymeric Laporte: Didier Deschamps will only ever pick two left-footers & two right-footers at centre back in any squad. It is an unwritten rule. Umtiti & Kimpembe currently fill those slots.— Get French Football News (@GFFN) March 14, 2019
Spain's current centre-back options are Sergio Ramos (33 at the end of the season), Nacho (29, and pretty average), Marc Bartra (hmmmm), Inigo Martinez, Diego Llorente and Mario Hermoso (blah, blah and blahhhhh).
Laporte wouldn't just make the squad for Spain, he'd be an instant starter alongside Ramos. He'd be the lynchpin of that back for the next seven or eight years. It's a no brainer, right?
(n.b. I have no idea how long the process would be for Laporte to Spaniardify himself, or if it's possible now he doesn't live there. I assume it is. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if it isn't)