France manager Didier Deschamps has explained why he decided against selecting Anthony Martial for upcoming internationals against Bulgaria and Belarus despite the youngster’s recent superb form.
Martial hasn’t featured for the French national side in almost a year after suffering a dip in potency under Jose Mourinho last season, with Deschamps later calling on the winger to improve if he wants to play a part in the national side.
And he has done exactly that over the last few weeks, claiming five goals and four assists having only made four starts so far this season.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of his side’s World Cup qualifier with Bulgaria, Deschamps noted that Martial was returning to the level he wants to see.
“He’s a player who’s probably better when he starts than when he comes on, a bit like Lacazette,” he said.
“All 24 players want to start. Anthony is much better, he’s decisive. The last game [at CSKA] highlights what he can do.
“He’s getting back to a good level. He’s more used by Mourinho. He could have been in the squad. It’s a choice. He was there during the Euros, he went through a tough time, which he got over. I can only tell him to continue to make me think about him.”
Any manager of a national side – especially one of France’s magnitude – has to make conservative decisions from time to time. You cannot, after all, just hand places to players performing well at particular times – a knee jerk reaction form of selection – and expect consistency. You need a core that doesn’t change much.
That said, Martial’s brilliance is unavoidable, so much so that the boss has had to justify his decision to leave him out. And you sense that his return to Les Bleus will only be a matter of time.