MANCHESTER United forward Anthony Martial and Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette have both been left out of France’s World Cup squad.
The Premier League pair were not in the 23-man group announced by coach Didier Deschamps to face Australia in their first match on June 16. Instead they were included on an 11-strong standby list for the tournament in Russia.
Marseille’s former West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet has also been omitted.
He went off injured in Marseille’s Europa League final defeat to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
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“He was a serious candidate for a place in the 23 but for this kind of injury it’s usually three weeks of recovery,” Deschamps said.
“And there is a risk of hurting yourself again with this kind of injury and I must give my final list to FIFA on June 4.”
The biggest surprise came with the inclusion of Sevilla’s holding midfielder Steven Nzonzi, who was preferred to Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot. The 29-year-old Nzonzi has just two caps.
“Steven has technical skills and an imposing height, he plays in the same fashion as N’golo Kante,” Deschamps said.
“And Adrien’s performances with France are not at the same level as those he delivered with PSG this season.”
Salah’s boots on display at British Museum
Mohamed Salah fever has swept Britain since his arrival with Liverpool’s goal machine earning two players awards and now a pair of his boots are to sit alongside Egyptian artefacts at the British Museum.
The 25-year-old Egyptian – who set a new Premier League scoring record last season with 32 – will have his boots on display in arguably the finest ancient Egytian collection outside of the country itself.
The donation – by adidas – is to celebrate Salah’s winning the Premier League Golden Boot.
“This acquisition brings the British Museum’s world-famous Egyptian collection right up to date,” purred Neal Spencer, the British Museum’s Keeper of Ancient Egypt and Sudan.
Salah is not finished yet, though, as he heads to the Champions League final on Sunday week in Kiev against holders Real Madrid and thence to Russia leading Egypt’s line in their first World Cup appearance in 28 years.
“This acquisition builds on our recent project to acquire objects to tell the story of day-to-day life in 20th and 21st century Egypt,” said Spencer.
“From sport, to entertainment, worldwide trade to design, this collection is now accessible to all – like those from other periods of Egypt’s rich history.”
Rogic signs new Celtic deal
Socceroos playmaker Tom Rogic has signed a new five-year deal with Celtic that ties him to the Scottish Premiership champions until 2023.
The 25-year-old played a key role as the Hoops secured a seventh successive title this season.
Rogic, who is set to represent Australia at the World Cup, had been linked with a summer move away from Celtic Park.
“I feel great to have signed a new contract,” Rogic said.
“I’m very proud and honoured to be able to commit my future to the club.
“I enjoy playing regular football here. I’m working under a top class manager and to play my club football here is something that’s very special to me so I couldn’t be happier to have signed a new contract.
“The support here is very special and sometimes it’s hard to describe. To feel so loved and wanted by the fans is all a player can really ask for.”
Rogic will link up with the Socceroos in Turkey after Celtic’s Scottish Cup final clash against Motherwell on Saturday.
Portugal clean house
Nearly half of Portugal’s triumphant Euro 2016 winning squad will miss the World Cup after Portugal coach Fernando Santos made what he said were some difficult choices in naming his final 23 for Russia.
Centre forward Eder, who scored the winning goal in the Euro 2016 final against France, was among 10 players from that squad who were omitted from Santos’ list.
Other unlucky players included midfielders Andre Gomes and Renato Sanches, forward Nani and defender Eliseu.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s all-time leading scorer and most capped player, headed the list for the European champions, who face Spain, Morocco and Iran in a tricky first-round group.
Other stalwarts included goalkeeper Rui Patricio, central defenders Pepe (35) and Bruno Alves (36), midfielders William Carvalho and Joao Moutinho and flamboyant forward Ricardo Quaresma.
“As a professional, I have to make decisions and I know that I’m not going to please everyone,” Santos said.
“But, on the personal side, it hurts me to leave out players who took part in the European championship, and others who took part in the qualifiers and helped the team get this far.”
Senegal, Morocco name squads
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane will lead Senegal’s hopes at their second World Cup appearance in Russia next month.
Mane will be expected to provide the majority of the team’s attacking threat along with Monaco striker Keita Balde, with West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and Everton’s Idrissa Gueye also included.
The 26-year-old Mane has scored 19 goals in all competitions this season for Liverpool, helping Jurgen Klopp’s side finish fourth in the Premier League and reach next week’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, fiery Juventus defender Medhi Benatia took centre stage as Morocco coach Herve Renard named his 23-man squad.
Benatia, fresh from helping Juventus to the Italian league-cup double, is one of 19 players in the squad who ply their trade in Europe.
He seems set to be not too far from the headlines in Russia after a dramatic campaign in Italy which saw club coach Massimiliano Allegri telling him to “shut up” during a match.