French dilemma: How to book passage on the plane to Russia
The heat is on now. Who will we see lining up for France this summer? Between the following five French Premier League stars, it’s a very real possibility only two could be on the plane to Russia. This season so far has been a rollercoaster for the quintet. Highs. Lows. Everything between. So, who’s likely to go to the World Cup?
Among the five, Giroud has made the best move to help himself. Staying at the Emirates meant remaining a bench warmer. With Didier Deschamps selecting on form, that would be a death knell to Giroud's hopes. With Alvaro Morata both injured and in sporadic form, moving to Stamford Bridge might just deliver one final World Cup for the 31-year-old.
The supposed replacement for Nemanja Matic, Bakayoko’s not had the best start for Chelsea. He's been mostly a bit-part player in Antonio Conte's midfield rotation. The former Monaco man has struggled to adapt to the Premier League to be perfectly honest. He’s certainly not been the driving force Conte wanted. Nor is he showing himself to be a suitable replacement for the Serbian in any manner. Once he returns from his ban (or if it’s rescinded), the 23-year old will need to rapidly rediscover the form that made him so wanted in the summer.
Before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's purchase, the former Lyon striker had a task on his hands to retain his place in the French squad. Sven Mlisintat and Co closing the deal for the Gabonese just made it more difficult. The summer signing has only finished seven of the 25 games he’s started in all competitions. The way it’s looking, he might be forced to play second fiddle to Auba, settling for Europa League and FA Cup games. At 26, with the crop of French stars currently ascending, this may be his only real chance at making the World Cup. He’ll be 30 when Qatar rolls around.
Arguably the most frustrating of all players on this list, Martial is strong, quick, and supremely talented. Lke many before him, though, the Manchester United star is an enigmatic talent who blows hot and cold. More and more, it appears he may not even be under the right manager to develop him. With Kylian Mbappe, Kingsley Coman, a transformed Nabil Fekir, and the returning Ousmane Dembele, his place is far from assured.
He’s one of the first names on Jose Mourinho's team sheet. Injury is the only way United’s record purchase will be deprived his second World Cup appearance. Where Mourinho and Deschamp elect to play him, however, will determine the dabbing fool's influence on Les Bleus' fortunes.
He hasn't the temperament or discipline to play a deep-lying role with defensive responsibilities. Mourinho either hasn't or refuses to notice. He persists in playing his number six as a holding mid. The player showed the manager once more against Spurs that he prefers to be forward, prepared for a transition. One, Mourinho has other options at attacking mid. Two, he is more likely to transition his star to the bench (again) than acquiesce in a power struggle. With similar thoughts and options, Deschamps will be watching with interest.