Yes! It has finally happened. Aymeric Laporte has finally received his maiden call-up to the French national team. And so the long wait to play for France has finally come to an end. He is set to feature in the country’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra in the forthcoming international break after being handed his first invitation to join national team setup by manager Didier Deschamps.
Rated by Pep Guardiola as “best left-sided central defender in Europe,” the 25-year-old has been persistently overlooked for international duty. Although his manager at club level is probably biased, many would have agreed with his assessment if Manchester City had won last season’s Champions League.
At a time when Virgil van Dijk has just been crowned European Best Player for his work as a center-back, a section of Liverpool fans have not taken Guardiola’s comments lightly. But it does appear winning the Champions League has become a major determinant of who takes home the award as with the Ballon d’Or.
Many feel the Liverpool man edges Laporte in terms of his leadership, physicality and overall contribution to the team’s performance. Suffice to say that each functions very well in the system adopted by their manager. A Van Dijk vs Laporte comparison is not the reason for this write up. It’s a time to celebrate with the Frenchman on the attainment of a milestone.
For a player who was beginning to get the tag of being the most expensive uncapped player of all-time, this marks a change in the narrative. After being overlooked by Les Bleus boss for so long, a call-up had become overdue. And that’s not for the sake of it, or because of the £57million City paid for him. If national team invitation is based on performances at club level, Laporte has deserved it for the past two years.
It was his outstanding displays in Spain with Athletic Club that caught Guardiola’s attention leading to a long pursuit. Having secured his signature he was thrust into the thick of action as the Sky Blues fought for the first trophy of the Guardiola era. He made a seamless transition to English football helping the team win two trophies at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.
The 25-year-old became one of Guardiola’s most trusted men and was ever present on the City defence as the side dominated England last term. The likes of Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi were all rotated around him at center back. Yet, in all of that time, the national team manager didn’t consider him worthy of a call-up.
The situation defied logic.
When questioned in an interview, the player said it was due to “personal reasons” of the national team manager. That brought up suggestions of a rift between the duo that was not of public knowledge. But the likelihood of such has been laid to rest as Deschamps has finally done the expected.
Although Laporte faces serious competition in the position with Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Barcelona duo Samuel Umtiti and Clement Langlet all vying for a place in the position, there is still room for competition. Umtiti was not called up this time around. However, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma has received invitations in recent times and even played. So there’s no reason Laporte should be overlooked as he is clearly a better player.
Now that the invitation has finally come, we can only wish our prized asset the best as he represents his country.
*Editors Note: We wish Aymeric Laporte the very best in his recuperation after his injury sustained during the Brighton match yesterday. (31/08/19)