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How many of France’s discarded stars would get in England’s starting XI?

If you want to feel less positive about England's 2018 World Cup chances just look at the players France left at home

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

While we’ve spent last week debating whether Jonjo Shelvey should be in England’s World Cup squad, our French freres et soeurs have hardly battered an eyelid at some of Didier Deschamp’s exclusions.

The reaction in England was part jealousy and part bemusement at leaving so many top, top, top, top players behind.

But how many of those players would fit into Gareth Southgate’s current plans?


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Someone should be checking whether these lot have any English ancestry

Southgate will be using a 5-2-2-1 formation in Russia, or 3-2-2-2-1 if you want to make it sound more exciting.

What we are sorely lacking is a midfielder to get on the ball and dictate play. The solution? PSG’s Adrien Rabiot, whose languid playmaking abilities have seen him stand out amongst PSG’s galacticos.

Kyle Walker’s last-minute transformation into a centre-back shows how light we are in the centre of defence.

Aymeric Laporte might still be finding his feet under Pep Guardiola at Man City but we’ve already seen enough to suggest he’d walk into England’s current side.

The same can be said of Sevilla’s uncapped Clement Lenglet who’ll be on the move in the summer having made the art of defending look easy in Andalusia.

He was a typical Sevilla signing, arriving to little fanfare from Nancy for €5million but he’ll fetch closer to €40mil when he jumps ship.

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Good, but not quite good enough

Not all of France’s offcuts are good enough to command a place in England’s starting XI.

Take Karim Benzema, a majestic striker when he’s on his game but one who would only be worthy of a place on the bench thanks to the presence of Harry Kane.

His place in the squad would come at the expense of Danny Welbeck, although it’s worth noting that Dat Guy Welbz has an international strike rate to rival some of the best forwards around.

The attacking trio of Dimitri Payet, Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial would also make Southgate’s 23-man squad, meaning Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ashley Young miss out.

However they wouldn’t start for England as both Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli are currently untouchable in the two no.10 roles behind Kane.

With Benzema, Payet, Coman and Martial on the bench Plan B becomes a lot more enticing.

Still at home watching with the rest of us

Alexandre Lacazette has had a much better campaign than Arsenal Fan TV would have you believe, but there’s still no way he’s getting into our (imaginary) quartet of Benzema, Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford.

Likewise, Tiemoue Bakayoko’s form improved at Chelsea towards the end of the season but he’s not displacing Jordan Henderson, Rabiot, or Eric Dier in the centre of midfield.

Honorary mentions to Maxime Gonalons, Houssem Aouar, Wissam Ben Yedder, Kevin Gameiro, Bafetimbi Gomis, Maxime Lopez, Mathieu Debuchy, Tanguy Ndombele, Kurt Zouma, Mamadou Sakho, Moussa Sissoko, Olivier Ntcham and Lucas Digne, who would all have been in the discussion.

But, we’re sorry to break this to you lads, you’ll be watching at home with the rest of us.

(Before you shout at us about Payet being injured, in this theoretical world there’s no such thing as injury)


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Can Messi finally achieve glory internationally?

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From Russia with a whole lot of love.

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