Lebouef puzzled by Saliba’s France struggles

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Frank Lebouef is baffled by William Saliba’s prolonged absence from the France team, claiming the Arsenal defender is “absolutely tremendous”.

Saliba has started just two of Les Bleus’ last 18 matches and was an unused substitute in the home defeat to Germany on Saturday.

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In contrast, his form for Arsenal has been sensational with his partnership with Gabriel key to the Gunners’ Premier League title challenge.

Former France World Cup winner Lebouef told ESPN: “That’s a real question for me. I don’t understand why Saliba isn’t playing all the time.

“He showed to the world that he is the best defender in the world right now, well, the best French defender right now playing for a big club.

“I don’t know why he’s not playing. He’s absolutely tremendous. He deserves the chance to show it at that level.”

Prior to tonight’s home game against Chile, coach Didier Deschamps was asked why the 23-year-old was not featuring on a more regular basis, and the former Chelsea midfielder offered a surprisingly downbeat assessment of Saliba’s ability.

He said: “He is having a good season, but he also does things that I don’t like so much.

“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.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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