Deschamps' selections won't be swayed by 'buzz' as in-form wing-back is ignored
France boss Didier Deschamps insists he will continue to select players on merit and not in response to "buzz" ahead of his team's final two World Cup qualifiers.
The world champions sit top of Group D and will qualify for Qatar 2022 if they win either of their upcoming matches against Kazakhstan and Finland.
At a press conference ahead of the two games, Deschamps was asked why he has not yet selected Lens right-back Jonathan Clauss, despite the player making a "buzz" in Ligue 1 this season.
"A buzz? But who is making the buzz?" Deschamps asked with a smile. "I watch the matches, so a lot of players, including this Lens player, of course. Buzz or no buzz, that's not what will lead me to select a player or not.
"Of course, [Clauss] is one of the players we follow. With the characteristics that are his, after it is also a question of competition in the position. I know you're waiting for something new at every selection, but I'm not here for that."
It was put to Deschamps that perhaps the 29-year-old's age or lack of experience in the Champions League or Europa League had put the coach off selecting him.
"I have always incorporated new ones, and to draw a parallel to the age of the player, Jordan Veretout is more or less the same age," he said.
"He arrived late, he plays in Rome, in European competition of course, but that does not prevent [Clauss from being picked. [It's the same for] those of 18 years, I select [them] when I think it is the [right] moment. The 'buzz' is closed."
Does Clauss deserve a place with Les Bleus?
Deschamps has named a 23-man squad for the upcoming games, including Bayern Munich's Benjamin Pavard and Lyon's Leo Dubois, both of whom can play in Clauss’s usual position of right back.
The manager has decided to stick with what he knows for now, given the importance of getting over the line in World Cup qualifying, but is Clauss’s form at Lens more than just "buzz"?
It is difficult to compare him to Pavard as the Bayern defender only returned to action in September after an ankle injury and has only played nine games, less than half of which were in the Bundesliga.
If Clauss is going to force his way into the France squad, a likelier route may be to do so at the expense of his fellow Ligue 1 competitor, Dubois.
The obvious reason for the public clamour for Clauss is his two goals and six assists from 13 league games this season – three of those (one goal, two assists) came in his team's 4-0 thrashing of Troyes on Friday, whereas Dubois is yet to register his first goal involvement in 11 appearances.
However, it must be noted that Clauss primarily plays as a right wing-back, and sometimes even as a right midfielder for Lens, while Dubois predominantly plays as an orthodox full-back.
That goes someway to explaining how Clauss has created 28 chances, compared to just six from Dubois.
The Lyon man has the upper hand in terms of passing and defensive play, with superior percentages in passing accuracy (85.4 to 77.3), dribble success (58.3 to 47.1), duel success (60.6 to 56) and tackle success (60.7 to 50), though some of these may be down to Dubois operating in less-congested areas of the pitch.
Clauss comes out on top when it comes to interceptions though, making 27 so far, more than twice as many as Dubois (12).
Either way, Deschamps has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, and it cannot be a massive surprise to see him stick with the players he knows well at the end of a qualifying campaign that has not always been comfortable.
But if Clauss can maintain his high standards, he might just get the opportunity many feel he deserves next year when Deschamps turns his attention towards World Cup preparation friendlies.