World Cup: Kante and Pogba are NOT going with France – but who else makes the INSANE XI missing out?

It shows the strength of world champions France that even without injured stars Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, their midfield still looks brilliant.

Real Madrid pair Aurélien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga could line up in an ultra-mobile and technically superb midfield pivot, with promising Youssouf Fofana and talented ball players like Adrien Rabiot and Jordan Veretout as well.

And there are plenty more who have a good argument that they should have earned a place in the 25-man squad, with a Champions League-winning Real Madrid defender, several Premier League stars and a star striker who doesn’t make the cut either.

In fact, France’s resources are so strong that even a squad made up of players who missed out on their World Cup squad – coach Didier Deschamps announced on Wednesday – could still have a great trophy run in Qatar.

And so with that in mind, sports mail compiled a list of stars from those who didn’t make the cut, whether due to injury or otherwise, and features an incredibly strong XI of those who missed out.

Paul Pogba won the 2018 World Cup with France but will miss this time through injury

Paul Pogba won the 2018 World Cup with France but will miss this time through injury


Guardians: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes).

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern), Raphael Varane (Man United).

Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurélien Tchouameni (Real), Jordan Veretout (Marseille).

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real), Kingsley Coman (Bayern), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig).

GOALKEEPER – Mike Maignan

AC Milan’s Mike Maignan would have likely made the squad, either as a replacement for likely captain Hugo Lloris or as third-choice behind West Ham’s Alphonse Areola.

The French stopper born in Guaina, formerly of Lille, played a decisive role in the Shield in 2021-22, keeping a record 17 clean sheets, but suffered a calf injury in September and failed to recover in time.

In his place, veteran Steve Mandanda has become No.1 at Rennes, with Benoit Costil, 35, underdog and the tournament probably coming too soon for youngsters Illan Meslier and Alban Lafont.

RIGHT BACK – Jonathan Clauss

Deschamps apparently opted for a four-man defense system rather than a five-man defense using wingers, a style of play he flirted with over the summer, with mixed results.

The move spelled the death knell for Marseille flier – and apparently Chelsea target – Jonathan Clauss’ hopes of success, with more defensive right-backs like Benjamin Pavard and versatile cover favorite Jules Kounde.

Leo Dubois’ switch from Ligue 1 to Galatasaray in Turkey could have destroyed his chances, with Milan’s Pierre Kalulu and Lyon’s Malo Gusto in contention for the next major after impressing at age levels.


My God, does France have some depth in the center of the back.

Ibrahima Konate, William Saliba and Dayot Upamecano are three of the most promising defenders in the world, with Raphael Varane – included in the 26-man list despite a knock – and Presnel Kimpembe, proven European performers.

Leicester’s £70million summer signing Fofana is out injured until the end of December so is ruled out, but chances are he wouldn’t have made it anyway given how strong he is. his country to this position.

Wesley Fofana ruled out injured for World Cup but unlikely to make squad

Wesley Fofana ruled out injured for World Cup but unlikely to make squad


West Ham’s Kurt Zouma has likely paid the price for his side’s poor domestic form, with David Moyes’ men currently sitting 15th in the Premier League.

In fact, his international career may be almost over, given the considerable talents of Monegasque duo Benoit Badiashile and Axel Disasi, Seville-born Tanguy Nianzou and Lyon prodigy Castello Lukeba who rose through the ranks.

On-loan Tottenham player Clement Lenglet has also been left out despite recently joining manager Antonio Conte’s first team.

LEFT BACK – Ferland Mendy

One of France’s most surprising calls is to leave out Ferland Mendy. He has won just nine caps and therefore hasn’t proven himself at international level but, having replaced icon Marcelo at Real Madrid, played an important role in Los Blancos’ dominance last season.

Only Theo Hernandez is an expert in the position, and the manager probably thinks that, like on the other side of defence, more natural centre-backs like Theo’s brother Lucas Hernandez and Kimpembe can provide cover.

46-cap defender Lucas Digne has struggled for form and fitness at Aston Villa, while Rennes’ Adrien Truffert and Nice’s Melvin Bard could be the next ranking taxis in the future.


The irreplaceable, irrepressible N’Golo Kante. Once criminally underrated, but now widely regarded as one of the best in the world at his position.

The 31-year-old is potentially coming to the end of his career in the short to medium term – especially given several recent injuries – but don’t worry, he would have started and played a key role in France’s plans for Qatar. .

His combination in midfield with Pogba was crucial to their 2018 World Cup success and his loss through injury will be a big miss. Niçois Alexis Beka Beka could be his long-term replacement for the Blues.

Chelsea star midfielder N'Golo Kante is another player who will come out injured at the World Cup

Chelsea star midfielder N’Golo Kante is another player who will come out injured at the World Cup


You can say a lot about Paul Pogba, and a lot have, but you always have to acknowledge that he was instrumental in France’s triumph four years ago.

He has struggled for consistency at club level at times, particularly at Manchester United, but often activates it when playing internationally. The Juventus star’s injury weakens Deschamps’ hand, there’s no doubt.

Other midfielders not included are Khephren and Marcus Thuram, sons of French icon Lilian, although their time may come.

CENTRAL MIDDLE – Boubacar Kamara

Rounding out our midfielder is Aston Villa’s Boubacar Kamara, the 22-year-old who was wanted by clubs across Europe this summer after his contract at Marseille expired.

Villa won the race to sign him in the summer and he started well in burgundy and blue but missed the last six league games with injury and obviously didn’t do enough to prove his fitness.

Maxence Caqueret, Sofiane Diop, Enzo Le Fee and Kouadio Kone are also good prospects for the future.

LEFT WING – Amine Gouiri

With Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann all options on the left wing, Deschamps has plenty of options.

That means in-form Rennes striker Gouiri, who has six goals and one assist in 12 Ligue 1 games this season, is out.

Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe, on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt from Paris Saint-Germain, also seems like a good future option.

RIGHT WING – Moussa Diaby

There aren’t really any really die-hard right wingers in the squad, with Coman or maybe Christopher Nkunku being used on the right side in Qatar.

Moussa Diaby hits them for Bayer Leverkusen but there’s no room for his blistering pace or exciting dribbling for Deschamps, with more defensive numbers preferred.

Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise and Lyon’s silky youngster Rayan Cherki could be next in line at the 2026 edition.

FORWARD – Wissam Ben Yedder

It could be the last dance for veteran forwards Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud, but with Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and potentially even Nkunku capable of top cover, there’s no room for Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder.

The 32-year-old has 82 goals in 144 games for the Monaco side in all competitions but has been left out and will now regret what could be his last opportunity to feature at a World Cup.

The future looks bright, however, with Southampton’s Randal Kolo Muani, Hugo Ekitike, Arnaud Kalimuendo, Momo Cho and Sekou Mara all talented young forwards.

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