France’s squad depth is scary even without Kante or Pogba

France go into the World Cup with some potential notable absentees but looking at their squad depth, there is no doubt they remain in with a great shout of retaining their crown in Qatar.

The most notable confirmed absentee is arguably their most important player of the last decade in N’Golo Kanté, whose been ruled out with a hamstring problem, the latest in a lengthy line of injury issues for the defensive midfielder.

His midfielder partner for the last six years, Paul Pogba, could join him on the shelf having not played this season for Juventus after knee surgery. Reports have suggested he’s suffered a setback in his recovery too, and time is running out.

France find themselves with several injury concerns

There are also issues at the back with AC Milan stopper Mike Maignan ruled out and the man tasked with replacing him as No. 2, Steve Mandanda, coming off injured for Rennes last week.

Raphael Varane should just make it back in time from his hamstring issue and will likely be brought regardless given France should be fine getting through a game or two without him, and he’s one of their key players and leaders.

Even taking this into account, their depth is staggering and a testament to their ability as a footballing nation to churn out talent – their Clairefontaine academy is world-renowned and Paris produces more players than anywhere else in the world. Simply put, c’est magnifique!

France’s squad depth ahead of World Cup

The guys over at Transfermarkt have done what they do best and displayed their depth for the World Cup on the below graphic, with their current transfer values to go with it, of course. Try picking your 26-man squad from that.

France squad
France squad

Breaking it down into areas of strengths and weaknesses, what instantly jumps out is the superstars up top – Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe, two of the absolute best players in the world, and Golden Boot contenders.

Benzema mbappe
Benzema mbappe

They are joined by the likes of Antoine Griezmann, who is past his prime but a French legend, Ousmane Dembele, who’s enjoying a renaissance (excuse the French pun) at Barcelona, and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman. Oh yes, and Olivier Giroud, who continues to defy the doubters.

Their depth up top is such that Allan Saint-Maximin has yet to be capped when he’d walk into most national teams.

At centre back, the French are also absolutely stockpiled, with or without Varane. If fit, he will start next to one of Lucas Hernandez, William Saliba, Wesley Fofana, Jules Koundé, Presnel Kimpembe or Ibrahim Konaté (catches breath).

Goalkeeper, right back and Rabiot are questions that Deschamps must find answers

While they are areas of strength, goalkeeper is not with the injuries and Hugo Lloris dubious form over the last number of years. Right back is questionable too – Benjamin Pavard does not provide the attacking threat that Theo Hernandez does on the left leaving them slightly unbalanced, and his back ups are poor in comparison to Ferland Mendy and Lucas Digne.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid

Any midfield in the world would suffer without Kante and Pogba, but France do have their successors ready to go in the shape of Real Madrid duo Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga. The only questions are regarding their inexperience (especially at tournaments) and who will partner them.

One would hope that it’s RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku, who has scored 13 goals already this season, and not Adrien Rabiot, whose failed transfer to Manchester United was a cause of much relief for their fans.

But knowing Deschamps and his oft-risk-averse style, Mama Rabiot’s baby boy will be in the team and Nkunku will be lucky to get any minutes.

It is likely to be Deschamps’ last dance with Zizou waiting in the wings

Deschamps is arguably France’s biggest weakness, which might sound odd for the man who led them to glory in 2018, but his time should have been up after losing to Switzerland at the Euros next summer.

It is heavily assumed that he will be replaced after the World Cup by his old midfield partner Zinedine Zidane, but it could be a case of a month too late.

With a squad like this, it would be a crime for France to fall any time before the semi-finals at the very least.

You can find all of the latest football news and rumours right here.

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